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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - John M. Kanaley

RealClearPolitics - Articles - John M. Kanaley

Last Build Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 22:49:41 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

About That Civil War

Tue, 21 Mar 2006 22:49:41 -0600

There are two primary reasons why the civil war has not occurred and why it is unlikely to become a reality. The first is that the terrorist strategy and tactics have failed. As General Camillus defended Rome against the Gauls during their invasion nearly 2500 years ago, he made the following observation, "Always they bring more smoke than fire-much terror but little strength." And so it describes the terrorist attacks in Iraq that continue without any popular mandate. Along with this lack of support is an absence of a clear strategy, aside from seeking complete power. The terrorists initially started their disjointed strategy by emulating a tactic dating back to Mohammad's conquest of Arabian tribes: attacking logistical convoys. Although they made headlines, the effects of these attacks were negligible, due to the massive inflow of supplies via air, water, and roadway. Since the aforementioned bombings in August, 2003 failed to generate a civil war, the terrorists' next tactic evolved to the kidnapping of non-combatants and videotaping beheadings. After the initial horror subsided, this only strengthened the resolve of Americans and Iraqis as the brutality of the enemy became evident. As coalition forces began training police and military units, the terrorists sought to destroy the inexperienced forces before they achieved a level of effectiveness. The consequence resulted in longer lines at recruiting stations and it instilled a sense of urgency amongst those receiving the training. Hence, the quality of recruitment and the professionalism of the military and police have risen significantly. Failing to devise a clear strategy, the terrorists resorted to what they must have assumed would be the key to starting a civil war--indiscriminate killing of civilians. Oddly enough, this tactic became a futile attempt to produce the desired outcome, since it had already been practiced by the former regime. The public, the military, and the police all have an interest in the new system and they are not about to be intimidated. Other than some mythical concept about producing an Islamic caliphate, the terrorists have not provided a legitimate option to acquire public support. Fortunately, the Iraqi people are well-versed in the history of totalitarian utopianism and have therefore not supported any vague ideology espoused by those who wish to oppress them. The second reason why the civil war has not broken out is because the political process has been generally successful. Despite some difficulties in producing not only a new government, but an entirely different state, the progress within this democratic system has been remarkable. Terrorist attempts to force a postponement of the initial elections in January, 2005 failed as approximately 60% of eligible voters risked encountering violence on their way to the polls. The turnout increased for the constitutional referendum later in the year, and the momentum continued as Sunnis joined the political process when the country elected a permanent government this past December. In spite of the continuing dialogue on the final composition of the new government, there are positive aspects below the surface of discontent. For the first time, the Iraqis are experiencing the benefits of negotiating for key positions in the government. Even during this uncertain time, the transitional government has strengthened the legality of democratic institutions by actually preventing a full-scale civil war. Although one side is fighting violently in its attempt for absolute control, the government has called for a peaceful public reaction, while instituting a firm response militarily. Consequently, the Shiites have shown incredible restraint, proving to the moderate Sunnis the benefits of reconciliation through alternative methods. Although there were Shiite reprisals for the recent bombing of the Golden Mosque, those primarily came from spontaneous attacks by individuals and small groups. The larger gatherings consisted predominantly of peaceful demonstrations. Absent [...]

Iraq Is Not Lost

Mon, 27 Feb 2006 00:08:13 -0600

The latest victim of negative news comes from a most unexpected source-the preeminent conservative thinker of the past half century: William F. Buckley. He once eloquently debated Ronald Reagan during the Carter years on the Panama Canal issue, against the wave of conservative thought at that time. However, he now has presented his perception of failure on the Iraq war in less convincing terms. The sources contributing to his position are quite questionable. He has apparently relied upon the New York Times to provide a ‘man on the street’ quote from an Iraqi businessman. He continued by mentioning the Iranian president’s usual “blame everything on the Zionists” reference. Buckley’s last source came from an inconclusive thought provided by an “anonymous” American soldier. To enhance his belief in his essay, “It Didn’t Work”, Mr. Buckley described how the businessman blames Iraq’s problems on America. It is puzzling to rely on this quote, since the man is described as being a member of a Sunni stronghold, so it is not difficult to surmise where his loyalties originate. This same interviewing technique would have produced the same result from Berlin in 1945. The anonymous soldier that Buckley referred to apparently has come to the realization that he is now aware of why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each other’s throats. (Apparently, the news organizations failed to report that Hussein must have finished a close second for the Nobel Peace Prize for his protection of the Shiites). Rather than playing the referee in Baghdad, evidence shows that the butcher was actually leading the Sunni charge against the Shiite throats in a one-way contest of torture and suppression. It is surprising that such a learned man as Buckley has fallen victim to the misinformation side of this conflict. He attempts to back up his interpretation of this war being a failure by posing some postulates. The first one is that the Iraqi people would put aside their divisions and establish a political environment that guarantees religious freedom. If he assumes that the Iraqis failed in this pursuit, he should review the second paragraph of Article 2 of the Iraqi Constitution which expressly delineates that particular freedom. Mr. Buckley’s second postulate assumes that Americans would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers to handle insurgents bent on violence. He followed this by saying that this did not happen. His conclusion is absolutely false. What war has he been watching? The training program is currently underway and has succeeded to the extent that the Iraqis are taking on missions and commanding terrain previously under the control of the coalition. Mr. Buckley went on to ask what we should do when we see that the postulates do not prevail. Unfortunately, he has come to false conclusions because he has negated the postulates without looking at the data, relying instead upon the massive amount of negative reporting, and apparently basing his ultimate conclusion on three unreliable sources in his essay. Eventually, his suggestion is to abandon the postulates. Why abandon success just because the enemy and the anti-war crowd say it has failed? Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to place the events in Iraq in context. From the signing of the American Declaration of Independence, it took nearly 40 years, a constitutional convention, and four presidents to finally achieve a sense of security in the United States. In the country’s infancy, it was never completely secure with the English, French, and Spanish waiting for the right opportunity to recover all they had lost at the expense of the American quest for freedom and sovereignty. As the third anniversary of the Iraqi invasion approaches, the success in that country is undeniable. One of world’s bloodiest tyrants has been deposed and the first elections were held less than 22 months later. Nine months afterward, a constitution had been formed and overwhelmingly approved by a public referendum. To ca[...]