Most under-reported story of the year

Bush is blessed. For the past two weeks, all we’ve been reading about in the blogs and newspapers (if anyone reads newspapers aymore) has been the NSA snooping on US citizens, and rather hysterical outcries from the right claiming that those who question this (and anything our great war-time president decrees) are traitors.

This has provided a marvelous smokescreen, allowing the biggest news story in months to slip quietly by, unnoticed and unremarked-upon. That story is the end of the myth of a peaceful unified Iraq, which became the justification for our dirty little war once the weapons of mass destruction canard fell apart.

The myth of a unified Iraqi identity may have finally been laid to rest this month.

More clearly than any other measurement since the U.S.-led 2003 invasion, preliminary results from the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections show Iraq as three lands with three distinct identities, divided by faith, goals, region, history and symbols….

[T]he preliminary election results, which have trickled out through a series of haphazard leaks and news conferences and remain disputed by all parties, show a nation starkly fragmented into ethnic and religious cantons with different aims and visions.

Nine out of 10 Iraqis in the Shiite Muslim provinces of the south voted for religious Shiite parties, according to the early results from the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. Nine out of 10 Iraqis in Sunni Muslim Arab areas of central and western Iraq voted for Sunni parties. Nine out of 10 Iraqis in the Kurdish provinces of the north voted for Kurdish candidates. Nationwide, only about 9% voted for tickets that purported to represent all Iraqis.

The results were like a bracing splash of ice water for U.S. officials, who had predicted that a secular, centrist Iraqi government would emerge after the invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein. Many longtime observers of Iraq had hoped this month’s vote would foster national unity by bringing to power moderate politicians who might help draw down a minority Sunni Arab-led insurgency against a government now controlled by the country’s majority Shiites, and stanch Kurds’ secessionist tendencies.

Instead, more than 240 of the 275 legislators, who will decide the composition of the future government, will probably be Shiite Islamists, Sunni Arab sectarians or autonomy-minded Kurds. The Shiites, who make up about 60% of the nation’s population, will hold by far the largest share….

Regardless of the cause, the very idea of Iraq may be slowly fading, politicians and common Iraqis acknowledge, often sadly. Even the Iraqi flag seems to appear only in the posters of politicians bankrolled by U.S.-funded aid organizations. Government buildings such as the ministries of education and health are often festooned with posters of bearded and turbaned Shiite clerics instead of the red, white and black flag of Iraq.

This article (which requires registration) offers an excellent snapshot of the “three Iraqs,” and, if you read between the lines, is actually a eulogy for all the hopes and dreams of the naifs who rather stupidly fell for the liberty/beacon-of-democracy bullshit.

I suspect Bush hopes the NSA scandal widens and blossoms; it’s thus far acted as a protective wall, insulating him from the real news of the day. And besides, the NSA scandal bolsters Bush’s image among the fools who see it as proof he’s “tough on terrorists” and muy, muy macho. Our capacity for self-delusion is infinite. As H.L. Mencken put it, “No one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

Wake up, America. The Iraq catastrophe hasn’t even started yet. Get out the popcorn and sit back.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

Get out the popcorn, huh?

In otherwords, you’re just hoping for failure. That would explain why you bypass any and every positive piece of news coming out of the region to report on the least bit of negative activity.

I see you haven’t responded since I answered your questions on the last thread.

December 29, 2005 @ 9:58 pm | Comment

Shiite’s victory will definitely bring trouble upon Bush. Remembering Iran, which also is a Shiite country too. posing a hostile sentiment to USA is not a surprise.

December 29, 2005 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

Gordon, don;t put words in my mouth. “Get out the popcorn” means get ready for the big show. I think we are going to see a real melodrama unfolod, probably resulting in civil war. That’s te last thing I want to happen, but i think it’s probably inevitable.

What questions haven’t I answered? What are you talking about?

Just because I’ve been right about every prediction I’ve made about Iraq is no reason to be bitter. :-)

December 29, 2005 @ 11:36 pm | Comment

While I certainly don’t want to see Iraq any worse off than it is, and while I want life to improve for the Iraqi people, I’d hate to see the Bush Administration’s actions spun as any kind of “success.” It would not only be used to validate what they did, which I think was unjustified and possibly criminal, it might encourage them to try it again with some other target.

December 30, 2005 @ 12:41 am | Comment

The sad part is that so many of us predicted this exact outcome, including George Classic in 1991 in his justification for why they didn’t depose Hussein after that war. George Classic was evil but he wasn’t stupid. George Lite is, I’m convinced, a sociopath. “Inherent power!” What a sicko!

Michael

December 30, 2005 @ 5:08 am | Comment

Michael, I think George Lite (love that!) is a sociopath also. And someone who gets off wayyy too much on dominating others…

December 30, 2005 @ 4:24 pm | Comment

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