December 12, 2005

The Rest of the Story

PowerLine highlights a massive turnaround in the Sunnis' attitudes toward voting in this election. While they in large part boycotted the last election, now Sunni clerics are urging their congregations to vote.

Quoting from an AP story, "In a move unthinkable in the bloody run-up to the last election, guerrillas in the western insurgent heartland of Anbar province say they are even prepared to protect voting stations from fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq."

PowerLine points out that nearly everyone right now is distancing themselves from Zarqawi as his actions seem designed to keep America in Iraq longer, and Iraqis by and large want America out.

Given that our departure, even if Zarqawi is neutralized by our forces or Iraqi forces, will quite possibly result in a commencement of internecine war and score-settling, this Sunni development isn't wholly good. These people aren't voting just to please America. They're voting for political power to further their own agenda. PowerLine dismisses the notion that a Sunni cleric calling Zarqawi an "American, Israeli and Iranian agent" is being serious, calling it instead a "ritual reference." Rituals have meaning, John Hindrocket. While I'm not positing that the claim has veracity, Sunnis may feel strongly that Zarqawi has a connection to America, and it certainly shows that anti-American feeling is unabated.

Finally, I hate to be this partisan, but I think it's an important point given the partisan spin this type of development will likely get—even if this is hugely successful and leads to peace, it is impossible to believe this kind of thing was all part of Bush's master plan. Bush has demonstrably misunderstood the dynamics of the conflict so far, and it seems that any breakthroughs will be in spite of, rather than because of, the US's efforts.

I hate to be downcast because this sounds like an overall positive development, but I really don't think we're even close to a stable Iraq, unless a "stable Iraq" simply means an Iraq we can get oil out of. Even then...

Edit: Juan Cole offers some perspective. Also this.

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