The Looming Disaster in Iraq

A. Scott Piraino

In the three days since Saddam Hussein’s capture car bombings have killed 35 Iraqis, and wounded over 60. In addition, riots and two explosions have rocked Baghdad, and Saddam loyalists have launched another coordinated series of attacks throughout Iraq. Although US forces have finally deposed a brutal dictator, the war in Iraq is not over.

The capture of Saddam Hussein will not end the insurgency, or stop the steady trickle of US casualties. In fact the capture of Saddam is not a boon for the war effort as the Bush administration claims. The bunker where Saddam was hiding had no telecommunications equipment, it is clear that he was not in command of any Iraqi forces.

Worse, now that we’ve got him, we have to give him a trial. And in accordance with the laws that we have established, the Iraqi’s themselves will decide Saddam Hussein’s fate. This will be a huge media event, subject to endless public scrutiny and watched by the entire world. For that reason,The Iraqi government must give Saddam a fair trail, or at least the appearance of one.

And that is a no win situation for the United States.

Saddam Hussein is clearly guilty of crimes against humanity, crimes against his own people. But the world knows that we supported Saddam throughout the 1980’s, when he was gassing the Kurds and torturing his own citizens. And what about the Weapons of Mass Destruction that Bush used as an excuse to invade? Where are the connections between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda, allegations made by the Bush administration to justify the war?

Even a toady defense lawyer appointed by the government must ask these questions. And that means we must provide some sort of answers, even if they are more lies manufactured by the Bush administration. If we lie, the Islamic world will resent the fact we are lying, and refuse to justify our invasion. If we tell the truth the Islamic world will resent us for being American Imperialists.

And what happens if and when Saddam is convicted? If he is put to death, the radical Islamic movements will make him a martyr. If he is left alive, he will always be a champion for Iraq’s Sunnis, and Saddam loyalists.

According to the Bush Administration’s timetable, Iraq will have their first democratic elections in seven months. That’s seven months to try, convict, and sentence Saddam Hussein, and usher in a newly elected government in Iraq. All this while fighting an elusive but deadly insurgency.

The US must also manage the most dangerous political rift in Iraq today, the split between the Shiite Muslims and the minority Sunnis. Remember that Iraq and Iran were once one country, Persia. The two nations were only separated after World War One, when the British Empire gave Iraq to Arabs who had helped fight the Turks.

Saddam, of course, was a Sunni Muslim and so were the ranking members of his regime. Although Sunnis are outnumbered in Iraq, they controlled the Baath Party and the armed forces during Saddam’s reign. The Sunni population is concentrated in the north and west, not coincidentally the area where US troops face the strongest resistance.

The Shiites, on the other hand, have been much friendlier to the US and allied forces, because they have the most to gain. At best they were second class citizens during Saddam’s reign, at worst they were brutally repressed. Most infamously when they revolted against the Baghdad regime after the first Gulf War, and were mercilessly slaughtered.

The Shiite Muslims are organizing in the south and west, and reopening ties with Iran. Shia is the official religion of Iran, and again, these two nations were until very recently one nation, Persia. Iran is quietly fostering ties with the Iraqi Shiites, even infiltrating agents and Islamic revolutionaries.

If the United States does manage to create a democracy in Iraq, the Sunni minority will be dealt out of power by the majority Shiites. The Sunnis have rallied in the name of Saddam, but they are really fighting to preserve their favored status as the ruling class in Iraq. If they fight the Shiites in the same way they are fighting us, Iraq will be embroiled in a civil war that could last for years.

In the middle of all this is the US Army. None of the citizens of Iraq like the US occupiers, but they loathed Saddam Hussein’s regime enough to welcome the Americans. Now that he is gone the people of Iraq will forget Saddam Hussein soon enough, and remember their hatred of the American Imperialists.

The soundest military solution to our problems in Iraq would be to escort Saddam Hussein to the gallows, then bring our troops home. But we cant do that. Iraq has collapsed because of Bush’s invasion, and if the United States withdraws Iraq will descend into civil war and anarchy.

We will not peacefully occupy Iraq for the simple reason that none of those parties want us there. The Bush administration has destabilized Iraq and dragged our country into a quagmire that we cannot escape. It is doubtful that the US invasion will ever benefit the people of Iraq, but there is no doubt that it will be a disaster for the United States.

Published in: on December 17, 2003 at 6:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

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