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May 11, 2007

Mort Kondracke: Stabillize Iraq By Allowing Full-Blown Ethnic Cleansing of Sunnis by Shi'as

Mort's actually been suggesting this, more softly and vaguely, for some time. But this is I think his clearest and coldest statement about this drastic, nasty Plan B for Iraq.

Without prejudging whether President Bush's "surge" policy will work, the administration and its critics ought to be seriously thinking about a Plan B, the "80 percent solution" - also known as "winning dirty."

...

The 80 percent alternative involves accepting rule by Shiites and Kurds, allowing them to violently suppress Sunni resistance and making sure that Shiites friendly to the United States emerge victorious.

No one has publicly advocated this Plan B, and I know of only one Member of Congress who backs it - and he wants to stay anonymous. But he argues persuasively that it's the best alternative available if Bush's surge fails. Winning will be dirty because it will allow the Shiite-dominated Iraqi military and some Shiite militias to decimate the Sunni insurgency. There likely will be ethnic cleansing, atrocities against civilians and massive refugee flows.
On the other hand, as Bush's critics point out, bloody civil war is the reality in Iraq right now. U.S. troops are standing in the middle of it and so far cannot stop either Shiites from killing Sunnis or Sunnis from killing Shiites.

Winning dirty would involve taking sides in the civil war - backing the Shiite-dominated elected government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and ensuring that he and his allies prevail over both the Sunni insurgency and his Shiite adversary Muqtada al-Sadr, who's now Iran's candidate to rule Iraq.

Shiites make up 60 percent of the Iraqi population, so Shiite domination of the government is inevitable and a democratic outcome. The United States also has good relations with Iraq's Kurdish minority, 20 percent of the population, and would want to cement it by semipermanently stationing U.S. troops in Northern Iraq to ward off the possibility of a Turkish invasion.

I disagree that the US would need to formally "take sides" in such a civil war. Simply refusing to intervene would be as much "support" as the Shi'as need to do their dirty business.

Allah is, suprisingly (to me at least), taking a more idealistic view on this.

Itd be unconscionable for the United States to acquiesce in ethnic cleansing in a country whose security weve taken responsibility for; if you believe some on the left (and right), its unconscionable for us to acquiesce in ethnic cleansing even in countries whose security were not responsible for, like Sudan. When we leave, we have to leave with a good faith belief that the two sides can co-exist, which is why political reconciliation within parliament is so important and why were stuck there until it happens. If you take Kondracke seriously, the best solution might actually be to have the Air Force carpet-bomb Anbar: itd solve the problem instantly, wed get credit for helping the Shiites win, and itd send a none-too-subtle message to Sadr that hed best not antagonize us in the future.

I don't know where I come down on this. I do know that should the Shi'as attempt this sort of widespread, systematic pogrom, we 1) really can ill-afford to take on the majority of the country in a fight (who, precisely, do we install to govern afterwards?) and 2) I'm not terribly keen on American soldiers dying to protect Sunnis, either.

I'm not keen on the Shi'as' plans for a bloodbath, either. I guess I just don't care enough anymore about the Sunnis who have been murdering us and blowing up innocent civilians or the Shi'as who have been murdering us and blowing up innocent civilians. If it does come to that, I don't see what our role is, except to hang back, let the psychopaths murder each other and destroy the country, and perhaps be willing to extend some aid once they've healed the country through systematic murder.


By the way, this isn't a new position for me. I know I've gone very wobbly on the war, but I've never thought the US should become involved in a true, full-on civil war in Iraq. Whose side would we fight on, exactly? The majority Shi'as who will wind up doing most of the bloodletting due to numerical advantage, or the Sunnis who have killed so many in the past three dreadful years to bring things to such a state?

I'm also not the world's biggest opponent of ethnic cleansing. Ehtnic cleansing always involves force, coercion, and murder -- but primarily it separates populations which have demonstrated they cannot live together in peace anyway.

I'm not a supporter ethnic cleansing, God knows. But ethnic cleansing usually arises from a state of unending, murderous de facto sectarian civil war. In other words, the murder and mayhem are already present.

And if ultimately driving the Sunnis out of Baghdad results, long-term, in less murder, mayhem, and carnage, I'm not really going to lose sleep over displaced persons or the shattered dream of different ethnicities living together in harmony.

Especially not the latter -- because it's frequently an unachievable dream that winds up murdering people. If they can't live together, let them live apart; at least they shall live. Or at least more of them will.

I would prefer if the Sunnis aren't ethnically cleansed and violently suppressed. But that is a mere preference at this point, and hardly a critical national-security objective I'm willing to secure by fighting the bulk of the Iraqi population and loosing further US troops.


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posted by Ace at 03:41 PM

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