Iraq: The Natural Order of Things


September 23, 2005: American casualty rates for September are less than what they were the last few months. Attacks on infrastructure (including oil facilities) and civilians are down as well. Combat operations along the Syrian border, and throughout the Sunni Towns of central Iraq have made it much more difficult for terrorist groups to operate. There is still much support for terrorists among the Sunni Arab population, and many Sunni Arabs believe that, if the Coalition troops can be forced to leave, the Sunni Arab tribes can somehow subdue the Kurds and Shia Arabs, and regain control of the country. But the best opportunity for this was lost when the Sunni Arab dominated army and civil service was disbanded after the 2003 invasion. The army and civil service are now thoroughly Kurdish and Shia Arab, and this annoys the Sunni Arabs a great deal. But the Sunni Arabs have been in charge for so long (centuries, even under three centuries of Turkish domination), that they see it as their right to rule. Many other Sunni Arabs in the region, and many Europeans as well, agree.

The United States is faced with a situation similar to the Balkans in the early 1990s. Then, Yugoslavia was breaking apart, with the Serb minority (about 40 percent of the population) trying to stop the Croats, Slovenes, Albanians and Bosnians from seceding. At first, the rest of Europe wished the seceding groups well, and did nothing. When the subsequent fighting, and large scale slaughter, drove over half a million refugees into Western Europe, the Europeans called for military intervention. All those refugees were very unpopular in Europe. But intervention would only happen if the U.S. joined in. Most Americans were perplexed. This was a European problem, why couldn't the Europeans take care of it? But the Europeans needed American help to keep the Russians (who wanted to keep Yugoslavia together) in line, and wanted American armed forces to take the lead (because European armies were not really up to the task of doing it themselves.) So American went in, with the understanding they would be there for only one year. American troops are still there. The independent states of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia were established. Then, in 1999, Serbia was chasing a million Albanians out of Kosovo, and Europe wanted to use military force against the Serbs to prevent this atrocity. But only if the Americans took the lead. This time, even the UN would not lend moral support. But the Europeans were insistent (they didn't want hundreds of thousands of Albanian refugees descending on them). America went in, with airpower, and, more importantly, enough clout to get the Russians to withdraw their support from the Serbs. The Serbs folded, and Kosovo is also still occupied by American and European troops.

But many Europeans see Iraq as different. Foreign troops should be pulled out of Iraq immediately, leaving the Iraqis to fight it out among themselves. There will be no refugee crises. Sunni Arab refugees will flee to Jordan, Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Kurdish refugees will head for Turkey, Shia Arab refugees will run for Iran. Europeans will avert their eyes and change the subject. If there is interruption to oil shipments from the Gulf, American will be blamed for removing an Iraqi government that knew how to keep order in a troubled part of the world.

Most Europeans looked the other way and changed the subject while the nazis and communists slaughtered tens of millions. So what's a few million more Arabs? It's a European tradition. Old habits are hard to break. Better to tolerate tyrants than to try and change the natural order of things.


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