Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another "Senior's Moment" for John McCain?

Okay, the guy who wants to be America's Commander in Chief first and president second can't tell a Sunni from a Shiite but, does it really matter? America winds up fighting each of them by turns. Saddam's Iraq was a Sunni outfit, remember? It was the mortal enemy of Shiite Iran, ring a bell?

But there is further reason to question John McCain's faculties in his speech announcing his latest turnaround - the withdrawal of most American forces from Iraq by 2013. Here's what Senator McSame had to say about that:

"By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom," the Arizona senator said.

He described his hopes for the scenario in the country by the end of his first term in office: "The Iraq war has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering form the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension."

Now of course, Iraq was created "centuries" ago - by the Brits and French - in the wake of WWI. The basis for the sectarian tensions is largely external and primarily Western.

It was the Allies who promised the Kurds their own homeland when the Ottomans were crushed and then reneged with the Treaty of Sevres.

It was the Allies who divvied up the Middle East between the French and British, drawing neatly surveyed straight lines without regard for the inevitable consequences of coralling conflicted ethnic and religious groups within the same territorial structures.

It was the Brits who chose the minority Sunnis to run the place, considering them the most effective, most reliable for British purposes.

If McCain doesn't understand these realities, he'll never be able to comprehend the powerful secessionist forces maneuvering in today's Iraq. Maliki is backed by the Badr organization which supports the division of Iraq into an oil-rich Shia south, an oil-rich Kurdish-north and a comparatively impoverished Sunni centre.

It is America's chosen foe, Muqtada al Sadr, who represents the nationalist force within the Shiite population. However the guy who most wants to hold Iraq together also insists on complete withdrawal of American forces. This leaves Washington in a horrible double-bind that politicians like John McCain ignore at America's peril.

If Washington wants America's agenda to prevail in Iraq, as McCain suggests, it can only perpetuate the Shia-Sunni divide which, ultimately, will extend to an Arab-Kurd divide. That instability will ensure that American troops will be there en masse far beyond 2013.

At some point John McCain will have to realize that you can't get out of Iraq until you disarm the sectarian landmine left by the French and British in 1920 and you can't do that with grade-school perceptions of reality.

1 comment:

LeDaro said...

Guess who benefited the most from US toppling of Saddam. Iran. They could not get rid of their sworn enemy and Bush did it for them. Now Iraq is Iran's playground directly and through Sadr.