Towards A Good Samaritan World

Monday, November 20, 2006


Is the impassioned Iraqi democrat advocating a coup here?

Where do Iraqis stand from all the debate about Iraq's future, and how do they look at the expectations and recommendations being made these days?

Iraqis are of course the most concerned and affected by the ongoing crisis but the continuous pressure and trauma made their vision so confused that they are drowned by the daily dangers and problems that compressed their dreams and thought and made seeing tomorrow's sunshine their top priority.

The government stinks—that’s the overwhelming impression that is undermining the public's support for the government and its institutions.

People are tired of criticizing and there's frustration about the government's ability to take serious measures to contain the conflict or improve performance.

Frankly speaking, the ordinary citizen lost faith in his government—worse than that would be the prospect of living with it for another four years and that sounds like a very bad idea if incompetence remains at the current level, or gets worse.

Each episode of escalation brings to the surface the argument that the government must resign or be made to resign but that is not an easy option because even if it was technically possible to force a resignation there would be no better choices ready at our disposal.

At the same time, dismissing the current legislature and calling for early elections would mean more chaos on the streets and more bitter exchange of violence among rival parties…and the ordinary people would be caught in the crossfire of this conflict.

The idea of a 'palace coup de tat' may look tempting and it's one of the popular ideas among many of the people these days as a cure for the deadly instability. But I'm not sure the advocates of this option realize the possible consequences lying beneath the sugarcoating but I understand their attitude because previous coups were mostly smooth and "stability" was regained in relatively no time.

But the case is different now, Iraq is no longer a centralized state and changing the head of the state from within-or from outside-won't be enough to make the entire country accept the change or pledge allegiance to the new administration.
Changing the head will not bring back the limbs together and it might give rise to even more complicated situations.

I agree that a coup would be welcomed by the large segments of people who are tired of the present situation but what about a few months or a year after that? What would be the reaction when months pass by and stability is not restored (and I doubt it can)?

I think the coup administration would then be put in a very similar position to this government's…embarrassed, incapable and losing public support.

Which makes it sound as if the only reason Iraq the Model is not advocating a coup is that he thinks it wouldn't work-- "work" in the sense of restore security. But

Now, our real problem in Iraq is that we do not have leaderships with patriotic agendas and like we said many times in previous postings; these leaderships that work according to partisan and regional-foreign agendas are the main cause of trouble because they are in power and they would not easily abandon the agendas of their masters and regional supporters and they will remain an obstacle in the face of building the state.

The bitter fact is; it was us who brought them to power and gave them legitimacy through elections. But…regret is useless now.

But how were Iraqis supposed to know? It's hard enough for Americans, even with their vast resources of punditry and political analysis and their long party traditions and scores of politicians with long records to judge them by, to get what they want. Iraqis-- how would they have a chance? This is the flaw with spreading democracy: democracy needs deep roots in tradition to be the comparatively beneficent (the least-worst) form of government that it is in rich countries.

I believe that America would like to see Iraq emerge as a model for the region and is working hard to find a way to solve the current crisis. But that cannot be done without having a cooperative Iraqi partner on the ground who shares similar views for Iraq and the middle east. And that's the point; that partner does not exist, at least not in the government.

And I don't think Iraq's neighbors would instruct their representatives (their servants in Iraq) to give America a hand, even though they pretend to be heading in that direction because their vision for Iraq and the region are fundamentally in conflict with that of America. They want to see America defeated in Iraq and that's of course at the expense of Iraq.

So you're saying...

So, to start looking for solutions, America must first start looking for an Iraqi partner, a partner that is devoted to building a model state in Iraq and that favors building a strategic alliance with America instead of grave alliances with rogue regional powers that want to throw Iraq back to the ages of despotism or settle old accounts with America through a proxy war.

Perhaps figures like Allawi and his bloc stand as a good candidate for a partner but they're a candidate not big enough to form a "salvation front" and work with America and save Iraq.

There are other smaller liberal powers but these are shattered and confused and many of them chose to side with religious parties in order to have a chance to win a seat but I also think they might be willing to form new alliances under different frames, and here the Kurds arise as a potential valuable addition to the front—should they choose to stop looking at the situation from a narrow ethnic corner and realized the bigger image of the region.

Dismissing Maliki's government, whether under a constitutional cover or not, will not be a fruitful act unless before that a fresh patriotic front capable of filling the vacuum is established. This front has to be largely from within the parliament in addition to liberal powers that weren't lucky enough to reach the parliament.

This new political mass will be a very helpful asset to the patriotic Iraqi project and to America's interests, whether on the long term (the next elections) or on the short term in case Maliki's government resigned.

How can that front be assembled?

The only means is explicit, direct support from the United States to this future partner.

Everything is allowed in war and since Iran or other countries support this or that harmful party then America has the right, and the moral obligation, to support a party of its choice.

America is in Iraq now and in order to create a cover of legitimacy to any political or military solution, a strong Iraqi partner must first exist. [my emphasis]

So "America should look for an Iraqi partner"-- not being a partner with those that the Iraqis elected. The partner should be "liberal powers" from "within the parliament." Having lined up this "patriotic front," we should "dismiss Maliki's government, whether under constitutional cover or not." We should then offer "explicit, direct support... to this future partner." This is justified because "everything is allowed in war." It sounds like an American-sponsored coup to me.

The so-called foreign-policy "realists" will mock, but realistically, we can't do that because overthrowing an elected government and sponsoring a coup by "liberal powers" is against our democratic principles. Principles are what we fight for, and are also indispensable geopolitical assets. And they're essential to the legitimacy of American foreign policy in the eyes of Americans themselves.

But we might be able to pressure the Maliki government by asking it to hold referendums. Referendum results on particular questions could sideline the Maliki government to some extent while fitting with our democratic principles. The first referendum we should hold is on whether US troops should stay or not. If there's a supermajority vote "no," we'll leave. If there's a majority vote "no" with local "yes" majorities, we'll stay in pockets to prevent ethnic cleansing, and if that means de facto partitioning of the country, so be it. If there's a majority "yes" vote ("yes, we want American troops to stay") we'll smash Sadr and his Mahdi Army and take the consequences. We'll give just enough signals beforehand that that's what we're going to do so that we can claim a mandate for it.

That's the best solution I can think of to this conundrum. But who knows?

Now-estranged, formerly pro-American blogger Zeyad wrote in 2003:

I truly hope that living under 50 years of tyranny hasn't turned us all into potential tyrants. I worry constantly when I see some of the newly appointed Iraqi officials and controversial politico-religious figures just too eager to rule and assume power in the country. They are desperately trying to push it and speed up things for themselves. I see Saddam's face under the masks they're wearing. They are tyrants in disguise. I would rather have President Bremer (Allah preserve him) ruling us than any of them.

Bremer has often been dismissed as an incompetent. But seeing as his brief rule was probably the best times that Iraq has had in a generation-- better than what came before, better than what came after-- I wonder if a bit of revisionism is called for. Bremer, the good colonialist. Who tragically handed power to the hollow men in the name of democracy.


  • One thing that turned out to be a mistake was refraining from truly seizing control of and running Iraq. Bremer was definitely a part of this, though I could harly blame him since I can't imagine that I wouldn't make the exact same mistake. After all, gripping power too tightly seemed - at the time - as an invitation to see us as usurpers of Iraqi sovereignty.

    This is a separate issue from failing to enforce order at the beginning - Bremer wasn't even around at the start, and anyway immediate post-op security ops are different from administrative control and that sort of thing.

    Of course, even within that context, it's hard to blame Bremer too much, since his civil backup was the criminally inadequate OSP, packed with loyalists rather than specialists. I don't know what the hell I could have gotten done in that situation even with 20/20 hindsight.

    By Blogger Nato, at 5:18 PM  

  • The possible stop-loss and deployment (again) of loved ones aside, I do harbor major wishes that we could somehow ride to Iraq's aid by throwing in more troops, casting aside poorly-chosen leaders and blah blah blah bold measures. Unfortunately, I think ITM is dreaming, even if it wasn't politically and militarily impossible. That he can even continue to maintain such thought is either a reason for hope or a sign of insanity. Or of fear of Iran. I can't decide.

    I definitely wonder in what part of Baghdad he lives.

    By Blogger Nato, at 6:52 PM  

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