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Wednesday, April 29, 2009


As the Clarion Content has warned time and again, there is nothing holding the state of Iraq together but force and the spoils of aid dependency. Throw that much money at a state and many actors are going to try to grab the reigns of power and hold the center together, merely to get their hands in the cookie jar. The problem with this state, as with so many others; Congo, Pakistan, Afghanistan to name a few, is that there is no one unified nation beneath its strictures.

Iraq is divided in multifarious ways. Among the most significant is the divide between Sunni, Shia and Kurd, but even within these groups there are divisions and there are other important groups besides. None of these groups have strong loyalty to the central Iraqi state. Saddam Hussein held them in check only through violent suppression, fear and patronage. As the last week has shown the tempests of division are still roiling beneath a veneer of calm. Nothing America or that outside world can do is going to change this condition. The passage of time and political stability are the only help. Even then groups may decide it is preferable to go their own independent ways.

It is obviously farcical to blame President Obama for the inevitable spike in violence when United States troops depart. The calm was never real anyway, it was merely a lull while all sides rearmed, consolidated and evaluated their relative tactical position. Of course, this reality will not stop the hawks from attacking Obama. Much like the hawks who believed (and continue to believe) America could have preserved an independent South Vietnam with a greater commitment and more force, these folks have an ideological position that will not be morphed by mere facts on the ground. Their ultimate doubt in the reality of their words can be seen (in most cases) by their unwillingness to enlist their own children in the war.

The sad bottom-line is that there is no methodology, no way for winning in Iraq any more than there was a method or a way to win in Vietnam. When no one in the country is on America's side save for the people who are dependent on America for aid, America will be viewed as, inevitably, an externally imposed occupying force. Perhaps the most disturbing thing to come out of the past week was to read Secretary of State Hillary Clinton making promises about United States troops that our government should not keep. She was out of line and writing checks that cannot be cashed, the gradual increase in violence that will continue as the date for United States withdrawal draws near, cannot and should not be justification for extending American troops stay in Iraq.

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