Monday, February 20, 2006

The Bush administration does not want sectarianism in Iraq.

The American ambassador to Iraq issued an unusually strong warning today about the need for Iraq's political factions to come together, hinting for the first time that the United States would not be willing to support institutions plagued by sectarian agendas.
Mr. Khalilzad, speaking at a news conference in Baghdad, underscored the hope of American officials that Iraqi political leaders, who are deep in negotiations over the formation of a new government, would choose new cabinet ministers who would place the interests of their country over those of their political party and sect.

More than two months have passed since Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections, but signs of serious disagreement over the shape of the government persist. The new parliament is required by law to meet for the first time on Saturday.

"The United States is investing billions of dollars" into Iraq's new police and army forces, Mr. Khalilzad said. "We are not going to invest the resources of the American people to build forces run by people who are sectarian."

And then this bit of chutzpah:

If Iraq cannot control the sectarian agendas within its government, Mr. Khalilzad said, it "faces the risk of warlordism that Afghanistan went through for a period."

Uh, excuse me? Which country was it that wanted regime change in Iraq badly enough to invade without knowing or understanding the first thing about the Iraqi people or Iraqi history? It's pretty cheeky for the country that unleashed the sectarian violence to be conducting the lecture against it.

That said, I actually think the Afghanistan model is precisely what the U.S. government wants. A unified, nationalistic state under a single strong leader is much more of a threat to Bush and Cheney's plans for hegemony in that part of the world than what they've got now. If they can't have Jeffersonian democracy, a decentralized state run by feuding warlords is the next best thing. Of course, it will blow up in everyone's faces eventually (look what came out of Afghanistan); but American foreign policy is run on a short-term philosophy; always has been. Stick your finger in this hole in the dike; when another one pops up somewhere else, we'll deal with it then.

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