Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saddam hanging settles what?

Early yesterday (December 30th), I stumbled into my car just before five in the morning, and was jolted out of lethargy by a BBC radio piece reporting that Saddam had been hanged. Convenient stores in the area were out of the KC Star (the metro area's only major newspaper) by noon. While the conversations about his death were imbued with patriotism and more widespread than I imagined they would be (both assuring in a way), the execution raised even more questions in my mind, settling nothing.

Not inquiries about the prospects of Iraq's success through an Occidental prism--rampant consanguineous marriage with over half of Iraqi men married to a second cousin or closer and relatedly tribalism, an estimated IQ of 87 (and likely declining as those fleeing the 'nation' are disproportionately from the professional classes), a PPP of $1,800 (even as it produces more oil than 150+ countries it is roughly as wealthy as Rwanda), and Islam preclude anything approaching a Jeffersonian democracy, or even a non-authoritarian/non-brutally repressive functioning society of any sort.

The questions that arise instead involve what we're trying to do their now. Unbelievably, many Sunnis see the abrupt hanging of Saddam as brought on by a sort of Iran-US alliance!

While Iran's President vocally blathers on about how the Holocaust is a myth and how the Iranians need nuclear power, neocon publications paint paltry Persia as the Third Reich reincarnated (nevermind that Germany circa 1941 would crush Iran circa 2006), and our President praises the execution of Iran's greatest antagonist. Our tenuous alliance with Saudi Arabia is strained as the kingdom logically fears growing Iranian influence in the Persian Gulf. While partisan militias (and I'm oversimplifying) cleanse neighborhoods of one another, on the eventual road to relative calm as fanctions that cannot live peacefully together separate from one another, we consider throwing another 20,000 troops into the miasma that is Iraq to train Shia fighters who increasingly use the Iraqi Security Forces and Army as an extension of Mahdi Army and other similar splinter groups targeting Sunnis with ever-growing ferocity. I'm flummoxed and depressed at what appears to be the biggest military blunder in the history of the Republic.

The Sunni response has been noticeably tame. Western media sources have been scouring for evidence that Sunnis are responding to Saddam's hanging with accentuated terrorist activity, but so far it just hasn't been happening:
At least 80 Iraqis died in bombings and other attacks Saturday as they prepared to celebrate Islam’s biggest holiday, their first without Saddam Hussein.

The bombings came hours after Saddam was hanged in Baghdad for ordering the killings of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail in 1982. Despite concerns about a spike in unrest, Saturday’s violence was not unusually high for Iraq, nor did it appear to be in retaliation for the execution.
Since Saddam's death it doesn't appear that Sunnis have even been able to slaughter 200 Shiites.

Has the tide turned irreversibly in favor of the Shia majority? Iraq has, at best, 27 million people, 4-5 million of whom are Arab Sunnis. Of these, perhaps, liberally, one million are males over eighteen and under forty-five. Many of these one million are in Western provinces away from large Shia populations. For how long can a relatively small minority sustain a guerrilla fighting force large enough to keep the Iranian-backed Shia majority from dominating the capital, the oil, and most of the country?

No wonder Saudi Arabia is alarmed.

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