15 December 2006
There are a number of important questions that must be addressed when analyzing and attempting to resolve the current war in Iraq. First, why now? Why is it that this same insurgency and civil war did not happen when Saddam Hussein was in power? Second, to whom does this war belong? And finally, what has prevented the parties from reaching a political settlement?
It is important first to note that while the Bush Administration has certainly made plenty of mistakes, even if the execution of this war and its aftermath had been flawless, it is very likely that a civil war would have erupted nonetheless at some point during the post-war reconstruction. The power balance disrupted by the invasion was simply too fragile and volatile not to explode into chaos. But why and how did the US invasion invite resistance to grievances that seemed no worse—and in many instances, better—than under Saddam’s iron fist?
Hussein seemed to reinforce his own reputation as a merciless and savage ruler every chance he had. He started an 8-year war in Iran in 1980 which cost nearly a million lives. He routinely slaughtered thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq for seeking greater political autonomy, and any Shiite he arbitrarily deemed as seditious was summarily executed unless s/he was believed to merit torturing first. He tortured and killed anyone (and their families) who disagreed with or doubted him. And yet despite all this, it is because the US soldiers now occupying Iraq represent an entirely democratic society that Iraqi Sunnis have opted violently to resist the far-less repressive US forces.