Iraq Opinion, October 1, 2005
When it comes to reading weblogs, the best in the business I think is the barkeep at the Whiskey Bar. His Catch 22 post yesterday must go on the archives here.
I've argued that next month's vote on the Iraq partition plan (a.k.a. the proposed constitution) will make things worse no matter how the vote comes out. But I haven't seen the point put this succinctly before:
Officials say that if the constitution is defeated, insurgents will most likely believe that they have won a significant victory and be encouraged to fight on. Conversely, it is said, the insurgency will grow stronger if the voters approve the constitution, because that will anger Sunnis who opposed it and empower Sunni insurgents who can claim that their views were ignored.
So heads the insurgents win, tails the United States loses. Doc Daneeka couldn't have put it better.
Nevertheless, the Cheney administration is taking the position that something is better than nothing (even when that something is a civil war) and is rooting for the constitution to pass:
Approval "is critically important," a senior administration official said, "to maintain political momentum. That is the critical thing for holding this whole thing together."
It appears the war in Iraq has been turned into a remake of Speed.
There's just one problem. The intelligence geniuses over at the Pentagon, the same ones who've been wrong at virtually every point in this lunatic adventure, are sure the constitution will pass:
"Nobody will be surprised to lose Anbar, and maybe one other province," one Pentagon official said. "We're not going to lose three."
We're not going to lose? Since when did this become the New Hampshire primary?
Ordinarily, I'd say the confidence of the E-ring idiots is a clear sign the constitution is doomed. But I think the ruling factions in Baghdad are going to demonstrate something we've already learned back here in the states -- that even a corrupt, incompetent regime can usually figure out how to rig a close election. After all, it's a hell of a lot easier than actually running a country.
And what vote rigging doesn't accomplish, maybe intimidation and harrassment will (via Juan Cole):
U.S. forces raided the homes of two officials from [two] prominent Sunni Arab organization[s] Thursday, arresting bodyguards and confiscating weapons, Sunni officials said . . . The two organizations [The Conference for Iraq's People and the Iraqi Islamic Party] are urging Sunnis to vote "no" on the constitution, which their leaders believe will divide Iraq into Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni areas, with the Sunni region having the least power and revenue.
Who would have guessed that two-and-a-half years into this war, U.S. troops would be playing the role of street muscle for a bunch of Iranian-backed fundamentalist parties trying to rig an election. Even Joseph Heller couldn't top that.
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