December 25, 2005

20 FREAKIN' %?:

In Iraq, A Push For Unity On Vote: Factions Negotiate Following Protests (Jonathan Finer, December 25, 2005, Washington Post)

Each of the country's three largest communities -- Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and ethnic Kurds -- voted overwhelmingly on Dec. 15 for lists of parliamentary candidates that represented its own group. According to preliminary, unofficial ballot counts, the largest share of votes was won by the alliance of Shiite Muslim religious parties that leads Iraq's outgoing government. Minority Sunni Arabs, meanwhile, appeared to have won fewer votes than they had anticipated.

That voting pattern, and the subsequent unrest and charges of fraud by Sunnis, exacerbated long-standing fears and distrust that had emerged since the fall of Saddam Hussein almost three years ago, Iraqi officials and Western diplomats said. In recent weeks, Shiite and Sunni leaders have called for the formation of sectarian armies to police their respective regions, a step some observers say could be a precursor to open clashes between the groups. The Kurds, who dominate most of northern Iraq, already have their own fighting force, as do several Shiite parties.

"Every group here is afraid of every other group: The Sunnis are afraid, the Shiites are afraid, and the Kurds are afraid," said a Western diplomat in Baghdad who agreed to be interviewed on the condition he not be named. "And the response to that has been to sort of draw together as a kind of self-preservation tactic. When it came down to it, people voted on the basis of identity, and now it is time to walk everybody back and choose a government that represents the country. This is a critical time."

The Sunni were always destined to have a psychic break when forced to confront how small a minority they really are. Now it's important to give them a bit more power than they've won, in order to buy their participation in a system they'll never control.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 25, 2005 8:55 AM

oj. I can't believe you think it's okay to pander to the Sunni. Appeasement never works. It only delays the denouement and makes it all that much harder for them to accept the reality that they're a rather small minority.

Posted by: erp at December 25, 2005 10:50 AM

Appeasement sometimes works, which is why it's often tried.

The problems come when you offer a carrot, without being willing (or able) to pick up the stick.

In this case, it would be far better to let the Sunnis run a third of the government, rather than have a civil war - at least for now.

As has been often pointed out in this forum, the original founders of the United States appeased the slave-holding colonies, and that worked, if somewhat roughly, for 80 years.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 25, 2005 1:30 PM

Michael, if slavery had been dealt with by the founding fathers, the civil war would have been avoided and tens of thousands of our best wouldn't have died.

Posted by: erp at December 25, 2005 1:43 PM

Why bother? Just turn the whole thing over to Iran. That's where it's going anyway.

Posted by: Josh at December 25, 2005 1:47 PM


It requires a peculiar Leftish contempt for people to believe that Arabs will allow Persian domination. I'd have thought WWI would havve cured it.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2005 4:06 PM

It requires a peculiar Rightish self-delusion to believe grand world-historical theories will unfold as envisioned in American think tanks. I would have thought the 18-19th centuries would have cured the impulse to take up the white man's burden.

Posted by: Josh at December 25, 2005 5:24 PM


Absolutely. That why any theory that doesn't account for ethnic rivalries is delusional. The unified Iraq crowd of neocons is just as absurd as anyone on the Left.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2005 6:57 PM

Ah, the casual racism of the left is showing again. Josh, Arabs and Persians are white men (and women) too.

Posted by: erp at December 25, 2005 8:16 PM

If the American Civil War had been avoided, a number of Americans in the high six figures would have avoided death, but if the Founding Fathers had addressed slavery directly, the United States wouldn't have been composed of 13 colonies, may not have ended up stretching from coast to coast, and North America might have ended up looking like Europe, divided into many countries.

It was either accept slavery or accept Balkanization, take your pick.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 25, 2005 9:10 PM

Michael's right. The difference though, is that 1/3 of the 13 Colonies hadn't spent the last 50 years bludgeoning the other 2/3's.

Whether it is the right decision to try unity now or go for partition is one of those things that will only be judged by history in hindsight. It's a crapshoot.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at December 27, 2005 11:34 AM