Tuesday, March 07, 2006
IRAQ'S ELUSIVE CIVIL WAR
he New York Post's Ralph Peters is in Iraq, trying to find the civil war which has already been declared by the NY Times and numerous other media outlets in the civil war cheering section. Since Baghdad was the setting for most of the communal violence which broke out after the al-Aksariya shrine bombing in Samarra, one would expect that the Iraqi capital would be the best place to start looking for this civil war. Peters has chosen a perfectly apt Moore-ish title for his column yesterday: "DUDE, WHERE'S MY CIVIL WAR?":
All day - and it was a long day - we drove through Shia and Sunni neighborhoods. Everywhere, the reception was warm. No violence. None.The Zarq-man has been crystal clear about his intentions, but it seems that the vast majority of Iraqis simply aren't biting. Sectarian revenge attacks after the mosque atrocity have abated more quickly than most observers expected, and those elements thought to be responsible -- like Moqtada al Sadr -- distanced themselves rather quickly from the trouble-making "unknown groups," likely to avoid becoming the focus of the public's rebuke. It could have spiralled out of control, with the two sects of Iraqi Muslims deciding to go for broke -- but it didn't. Everyone, including radicals, seem to have looked into the abyss, and decided it didn't look so inviting. Instead, the Iraqi Armed Forces restored order, the political negotiations resumed the day after so many in the western media's civil war cheering section had declared them finished, and Iraqi society at large continues to confound both their enemies at home, as well as their enemies in the west who just know that those people are simply incapable of democratic life.
And no hostility toward our troops. Iraqis went out of their way to tell us we were welcome.
Instead of a civil war, something very different happened because of the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. The fanatic attempt to stir up Sunni-vs.-Shia strife, and the subsequent spate of violent attacks, caused popular support for the U.S. presence to spike upward.
Think Abu Musab al-Zarqawi intended that?
Of course all out civil war is possible in Iraq -- Iran wants it, al Qaeda wants it, and doomsayers at the NY Times and elsewhere seem to want it badly. All of these have done everything in their power to either push the country over the brink, or relentlessly pound on each and every "signal" that this is the inevitable outcome. The anxious anticipation of full fledged civil war in Iraq by western "analysts" (and "journalists" who never leave the comfort of their hotels - see the Peters article for more on that), has been really quite sickening, but hardly surprising. The people who really matter, Iraqi society at large, has shown incredible fortitude in resisting these horrendous provocations, and could surely do with a bit of credit for that.
It may be due to the fact that Iraqis know far better than outside experts are even capable of imagining, just exactly what it was that they have been striving to put behind them. They know the face of evil the way Cambodians who survived Pol Pot knew it. It was a face which orders a young mother to watch, as her infant is fed to hungry dogs. It was a face which sent children into real torture chambers with medieval impliments of inhumanity, from which most would not ever emerge. It was a face that looked down upon the broad killing fields, and smiled. How can anyone doubt the human will to avoid going through a nightmare like that again? The people's resistance to a descent into such horror again -- despite the inhuman atrocities designed to push them there -- is only improbable for those who have never seen the pit up close.
It's like one of Rumsfeld's famous categories of knowledge -- things we know that we don't know. I know that I will never know the depth of fear that was routine for Iraqi people under the dictator. I've read Iraqis trying to describe it, and John Burns of the NY Times was very skilled in helping his readers get close to understanding it, but unless you've lived under that kind of terror you'll never really understand it. The closest I've ever been to it, was visiting the Tuol Sleng prison outside Phnom Penh -- Pol Pot's Abu Ghraib. Michael Totten visited a similar memorial recently in Iraqi Kurdistan, and I encourage all readers to take a look. Look at the children in the old photos, and ask yourself if you really understand what it is that Iraqis are trying to put firmly into the past.
Iraqis are not only resisting fanatical minority elements within their country, and the mercenary jihadists who have taken up residence, but evidently they must also resist the efforts of a diabolical neighbouring government determined to push them into the abyss. Never mind civil war for a moment -- if this isn't an act of Iranian aggression, then what is?
"I think the evidence is strong that the Iranian government is making these IEDs, and the Iranian government is sending them across the border and they are killing U.S. troops once they get there," says Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism chief and an ABC News consultant. "I think it's very hard to escape the conclusion that, in all probability, the Iranian government is knowingly killing U.S. troops."Not just US troops there, Dick. Iranian weapons have been killing Iraqis too, y'know, let's not forget them shall we? Iran-supplied munitions are nothing new, there was evidence for this many months ago. Just that it was hardly mentioned in the mass media. So now ABC News has a scoop? It's more evidence of Iran's involvement in pushing Iraq into anarchy, but it's not exactly news. Iran is a belligerent power engaged in an undeclared war against Iraq and her coalition allies, and it's time to start treating the Ahmadinejad regime as such.