The military is grinding along in the north of Iraq, taking back Diyala province and hopefully holding onto what they take.
This is more evidence that our military strategy has military merit. And, as if brought out by the contrast, it is a stark illustration that political merit is a whole different issue.
The trend is clear: The less we isolate the Sunni from their role in contributing to, not trying to wrest control of, Iraq’s security, the more military success we have. The more military success we have, the less the Shiites who dominate the nominally-democratic Iraqi government want to reward us with cooperating with the Sunni. The less cooperation between the government and the Sunni, the more the Sunni are isolated politically.
Something in this dynamic has to change for political success to be achieved. Considering our military success isn’t in doubt – being that we’re perfectly capable of winning any battle – it’s only that political success we should really be concerned about. However, beyond another quarterly-annual workday-long meeting between our diplomats and Iran’s that resulted in little more than empty rhetoric, little proactive is being done politically.
In fact, the US seems content to whitewash their real actions defining relations with Iran in Iraq: Open conflict. As shown in earlier posts and in the recent raids on Iran-connected Shiite militia strongholds, the US is more aggressive at countering Iranian infiltration just as it seeks to localize, trap and eradicate al-Qaeda infiltration. Cutting off the tap of foreign involvement – particularly the Saudis, which has always been a concern of this blog but has only of late even been mentioned by the White House – is a necessary step to turn tactical military gains into strategic military successes. But have no doubt – this does not redeem or even salvage the political disaster that is Baghdad.
The sooner Americans accept two critical, simple but difficult deductions, the sooner we can adjust our political will to an attitude that will be realistic and productive:
1. The Baghdad government is /not/ a Democracy.
2. The Shiite and the Sunni are /not/ on our side. They are on their sides, respectively, and both realize that nations that /will not/ be going anywhere – unlike us – are right next door and not only ready but resolutely determined to see them victorious.
The first point might be difficult to prove, considering how vaunted the Iraqi government’s inception has been over the past years. Triumphant pictures of purple-dyed fingers and bold defiance of terrorist suppression of voters stirred American hearts. But consider what crucial differences in our democracy and theirs remain not only unsolved, but virtually unsolvable:
They have no Bill of Rights.
They have no state or local governments.
Think on that a moment. Would we still have a “democracy” without the ability of the local governments to represent themselves, manage funds and determine their own laws? The founding fathers argued that we would not. Numerous protections of those non-federal powers exist in our Constitution.
And so, for that matter, what would America be without its Bill of Rights? There is a “framework” for government in Baghdad, but there are no substantial Articles of government vetted by the Parliament, nor any Amendments. This is significant in the extreme. Remember that many of the rights we consider the very sinews of our freedom – freedom of speech, privacy protections, representation in court – come not from the Constitution’s original drafting, but from the Amendments in the Bill of Rights. There is extraordinary obstinance by the Shiite government to not draft such a Constitution.
The reason why this is, is one I’ve talked on often in past posts. Put plainly, it is because the Shi’a and the Sunni have little practical impetus to work with each other, and much to dominate one another. Without forcing a government on them that addresses these concerns – through federalism or through a Constitutional convention that, like ours, is forced to happen until it is complete despite summer months – this will not change.