Put your old map of the Middle East in the pile of historical documents. For a hundred years, the national boundaries of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon followed the contours of the lines diplomats drew to show the demise of the Turkish Empire. Their inked lines paid little or no mind to the impact those lines would have on language groups, cultural and religious realities, and tribal territories.iraq

Iraq is not now and never has been a nation with the common things that make a nation, a nation. Instead, it worked around religious animosities, language differences, and conflicting tribal affiliations. The work around was only possible due to the harsh policies of a Sunni aristocracy that had no hesitation about using brutal tactics to subjugate Shia and Kurdish minorities. The Kurds have wanted and fought for their own nation for decades. At times they have sought Western support only to be betrayed time after time. The Shia are pulled eastward to the strong Persian and Shia  state of Iran, the same state that the Sunni leadership in Iraq fought a brutal war with in the 1980s. During that war, poison gas was used against the Iranians. Saddam Hussein was an equal dispenser of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He also used poison gas on the Shia and the Kurds. Only ruthless cruelty and fear kept Iraq a nation.

Vice President Joe Biden, who almost got nothing right in his entire political career unless he copied it from someone else, stumbled on the right solution at the wrong time when he proposed dividing Iraq into Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish areas, provinces, or whatever. It was not to happen. His solution was too far outside the box for most of us.

President Obama made all the wrong moves and gave the wrong signals when he took power and pulled all our forces out of Iraq. But let’s be fair. The only way for Iraq to exist as a nation was to put a ruthless Sunni dictator back in power. That wasn’t going to happen. In its wisdom, the Bush Administration destroyed the Sunni-led Iraqi Army and ruling political party, clearing the way for weak Shia leaders to win or manipulate a democratic voting process that prepared the path for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to run a Shia regime that looked eastward to Iran for support and guidance, turning Iraq into an Iranian province.

Our president, who has a strong Sunni bias, knew he could not provide real military support to assist a Shia faction to battle a Sunni force. So all the hand-wringing over the number and kind of troops  sent now to Iraq and what the president should do is wasted. Iraq is history. Now we need to seek common goals among the Sunnis and Kurds.

Either way, this is a perfect issue for President Obama to follow his mantra, “the issue is never the issue.”  He never tries to solve issues anyway, he only uses them to destroy the opposition.  In Iraq, doing nothing is close to being the perfect solution. The Republicans will find some way to use the Iraq issue against themselves.

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Filed under Barry Kelly, Intelligence & Politics, Kurds, Sunni

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