May 4, 2007


The Gift: A master narrative for Iraq (Martin Peretz, 05.04.07, New Republic)

There may be very little inevitability in history. But one thing is for sure. The Shia, who constitute maybe 65 percent of Iraq--long brutalized and repressed, and several hundred thousand of whom were murdered in Saddam Hussein's tenure--will not let the cup of power pass from their lips. Not strangely at all, there is no just theory of government that would prescribe that they should.

This is the nub of the controversy. As soon as Saddam's bronze head fell and the Baath Party with it, there emerged among the newly freed a demand for de-Baathification, a purge of the totalitarian agents, grand and petty, who ruled the country, enslaved it, and profited from it. The insistence rose from a sense of due cause, a fear of the return of the monsters, and real hatred. Hatred might not salve. But sometimes it cleanses. And, in the case of Iraq, there was plenty of reason to hate. De-Baathification was nowhere as harsh as de-Nazification, a U.S.-initiated process in our zone of occupied Germany that, only a few months ago, a self-righteous critic of the Iraq war suggested should be undertaken in the United States. The discussion of the war is now so irrational that the same person may believe that de-Baathification is wrong in Iraq but de-Nazification is apt for our own country.

There are, of course, Shia fanatics and murderers, and they, too, kill American soldiers. But the war against a political settlement and the war against our troops is largely a Sunni phenomenon. It is suicidal. They cannot win. No way. But they might be able to drive us out.

The diverging views of events in the Middle East do indeed just boil down to your view of Shi'a self-determination. Most folks on the Left happen to hate the Shi'a just as much as, and for the same reasons that, they hate Jews and America. And the reality is that they should hate all three.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 4, 2007 12:32 PM

Sunni bribery of Western politicians is still the most probable likely hypothesis.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 4, 2007 1:29 PM