Friday, December 08, 2006

A Cogent View of Why Iraq Is So Divided

Laura Rozen cited some writing from Anthony Cordesman that is, I think, quite accurate:
the Iraqi government is weak as much because of US action as Iraq's inherent problems. The US destroyed the secular core of the country by disbanding the Ba'ath. The US created a constitutional process long before Iraq was ready, and created an intensely divisive document with more than 50 key areas of "clarification" including federation, control of oil resources and money, control of security, the role of religion, the nature of the legal system, etc. The US created an electoral system that almost forced Iraqis to vote to be Sunnis, Shi'ites, and Kurds and divided the nation on sectoral and ethnic lines.
I believe this is somewhat overlooked: the US actually inadvertently exacerbated the sectarian strife in Iraq by decisions it made regarding the political process in Iraq. Thus the Bush administration didn't simply bungle the post-war but it positively contributed to the problems that are rending Iraq today. How much evidence do our policymakers need that intervening in a foreign culture is an extremely difficult thing to do with any success; there are just too many unintended consequences and unforeseen outcomes.

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