There is an undeclared civil war in Iraq. I am not talking just about the war over the drafting of the constitution, either. Kurds and Shi'a parties are busy writing while the Sunnis are reaching the breaking point. After reading this CSM report, I think that the outlook is grim that the US will be able to hold back full-scale civil war.
I think I am squarely in the get-out-of-Iraq camp. However, there is no rosy scenario that occurs should that happen. Civil war, maybe. Or maybe an independent Kurdistan along with a Shi'a led, Iran secured, Iraq constituting a militant Sunni presence. Uncle Sam babysitting. Juan Cole has a post today that lays out some proposals of segmented withdrawals. He concludes that "But I do think that, if taken together, they would allow us to get the ground troops out without risking a big civil war or a destabilization of the Middle East. Once Iraq can stand on its own feet, I am quite sure that the Grand Ayatollah in Najaf will just give a fatwa for complete US withdrawal, and the US will have to acquiesce, as it did in similar circumstances in the Philippines. The problem is, though, that should a civil war break out AFTER complete or partial withdrawal from Iraq, the US cannot be a silent partner. They will have to re-engage. Should I cool it or should I blow?/Should I stay or should I go now?/If I go there will be trouble/and if I stay there will be double?/So you gotta' let me know!/Should I stay or should I go. Indeed.
So, as this summer of Iraqi discontent draws to a close, I am increasingly uncertain of my own thoughts. My only impulse is to reach for the bookshelf. Allow me to recommend to you, gentle reader, Hanna Batatu's The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq - a pivotal work in Iraqi historiography. It is a massive work [1300 pages] and the class-based analysis has a peculiar datedness. But, make no mistake that this work is the most important work of social and political history of Iraq. I especially recommend Book 1 which undertakes an analysis of Iraqi classes under the monarchy and their interactions in politics and society. Here, we can learn more about the British Mandate or how simplistic it is to talk about Iraqi "Sunnis" or "Shi'a".
I had a similar post recently because I think the tide is turning both in the U.S. and in Iraq, and it's not going to look pretty when things are done. I haven't read the Juan Cole piece yet--perhaps that will make me feel better. I have the sense, though, that there is going to be a highly irresponsible conclusion to this entire highly irresponsible affair, and the people that are going to suffer the most will probably be the people in Iraq (as usual). That is, barring a regional war of some kind. Something about all this reminds me of the Balkan Wars preceding WWI, but I'm restricted to only what I know, so maybe it's a highly inept analogy--it strikes me as a little bit off.
Completely irrelevant but... Juan Cole's wife is Pakistani. He was on with Amy Goodman a couple of days ago.