Sunday, November 05, 2006

Horror and Disbelief

I continue to be absolutely amazed at the news media's shock, absolute shock, at the fact that the Iraqis don't seem to be able to put differences aside to shore up and preserve their Iraqi identity. I consider myself to be a very, very casual student of the very, very basic history of that region, and even I could have told you before this war started that there is no Iraqi identity. The idea of an Iraqi identity was imposed upon the various people who inhabited the current geographical boundaries of modern day Iraq by the British government after, I think World War I (it is entirely possible that I'm wrong and it was after World War II--but I think I remember correctly). Then the idea of an Iraqi identity was forcefully imposed on these people by Saddam Hussein and whatever dictator preceded him. Now it's being forced upon these same people by the U.S.

I would guess that from the point of view of a lot of people in that region, "Iraqi identity" = oppression.

So what are we supposed to do? Beats me. We can't stand by and watch them all kill each other. It seems as though one of the things that would stop some of the bloodshed would be to (or would have been to) partition the country into three parts, as peaceably as possible, giving families appropriate restitution if they, unfortunately, had to be relocated--to save their lives. What's happening now is how partitioning works if you leave it up to people who want to force it to happen quickly, don't care who they kill, and are seizing the opportunity of clan and ethnic violence to steal other people's property--rather than having the partitioning take place within some kind of organized, stable military operation that took account of property given up and replaced it systematically with property in another region. Is that idea perfect? Of course not. But it seems as though there's a false dichotomy being presented between the supposed good of trying to force people to stay unified against their apparent will, and the rank evil of those who are forcing petitioning by lawless and ruthless and unconscionable manners.

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