Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fresh Hate in Iraq Creates Conflict, Not Ancient Grudges

Too many out there pontificate on the nature of 1,000 year ancient grudges, and asserrt a sort of hoplessness in stopping bloodshed in Iraq. They conclude that this sort of sectarian conflict is wired into the Arab DNA, so the US is powerless.

But just as all politics are local, so are greivances. Fueds exist because of their intenesly personal nature, because of what has happened in this generation, this year, this month. The people of Iraq lived under a cuel totalitarian dictatorship, wich also exploited racial (Kurd v. Arab) and religious (Sunni v. Shia) differences, so that the state, the bureacracy, favored Sunni Arabs.

Think of all the petty tyrannies that the burecrats of Iraq could inflict on the powerless, the many bribes demanded, the seizures of property, the abuses of the police, the torture inflicted by Saddam's internal intelligence agencies. And this is all before the American invasion. Once we toppled Saddam and disbanded the army and police, there were scores to settle. There were dead brothers, raped sisters, tortured parents to avenge. They did not thirst for payback because of some 1,400 year old schism regarding religious dogma, but for what happened to them personnally, what happened to their friends, family, and loved ones.

Fued begets fued. Now, approaching four years of war and fueds, there are few who do not have a dead or injured relative. There are those who hate the Sunni, the Shia, the police, the military, a tribal chief, a new burecrat, the American Army, or foreign terrorists. And Iraq is awash in guns and old Iraqi army munitions. There is more than enough fresh blood to keep these fueds going.

We stood by as the beast of revenge was set loose in Iraq. It had been chained by Saddam to some extent (in those days it was only the beast of Saddam that plagued the land), but we let it escape. Now it has grown strong. And hungry. And it must be fed. At this point, America's goal should be to ensure it feeds on Americans as little as possible.

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