What Happens Next?
In a must-read commentary, Rahul Mahajan deals with "fears that a precipitous withdrawal [from Iraq] would inflame worldwide jihadi sentiment." While he implies that such concerns are limited to elites it has been my experience that they are widely echoed even among those deeply dubious about the conduct and/or cost of the Anglo-American occupation. As such they are concerns which those of us who oppose the occupation cannot dismiss lightly.
Mahajan asserts that
Mahajan asserts that
the Gordian knot of Iraq, insofar as political violence is concerned, is composed of three distinct strands: the American occupation and the resistance to that; the burgeoning sectarian conflict between Sunni Arab, Shi'a Arab, and Kurd; and the actions of a small number of fanatical extremist Sunnis who target all Shi'a as infidels and collaborators.He backs up his case by pointing to an article from Sunday's Washington Post (also picked up over at the Tomb):
Ordinarily, that third group, representing only a handful of fanatics, would not loom particularly large in the Iraqi polity. It is the peculiar dynamics of war, foreign-imposed anarchy, and easy availability of high explosives that gives this group an effect out of all proportion to its constituency; it has killed 2700 Iraqis in the last three months and disrupted life immeasurably.
What few outside the antiwar movement seem to realize, and what elite dissidents must be told, is that the U.S. presence is the very factor that takes these three strands and tangles them into the seemingly indecipherable knot that is Iraq today.
...In Ramadi, a town much like Fallujah, 3,000 Shiites live among about 200,000 Sunnis. Recently, Zarqawi followers posted warnings that all Shi'a had to leave within 48 hours or suffer the consequences. Members of the Dulaym, the largest clan in the province and a key source of resistance to the U.S. military, established protective cordons around Shiite homes and the Jaish-i-Mohammed, a resistance group, engaged in pitched battles with Zarqawi followers, killing at least five.Lots to think about. Read it in full.
They also put out statements saying Zarqawi had strayed "from the line of true resistance against occupation."
This kind of divergence must be encouraged. But it is and will remain very rare under occupation. Indeed, this same Jaish-i-Mohammed was present back in June for negotiations with the U.S. military. When the various groups present were asked to sever ties with Zarqawi, their response was, "we will never abandon any Muslim who has come to our country to help us defend it." This is the logic that will continue to animate most of the resistance, even as it deplores the killing of Iraqis by small groups.