[Paleopsych] Between Iraq and a hard place -- the first shoe drops

Werbos, Dr. Paul J. paul.werbos at verizon.net
Sat Nov 27 15:47:50 UTC 2004

People have asked on this list: are we making progress in Iraq -- or are we
steadily pouring salt into a wound in such concentration that the whole
body will be starting to spasm soon?

Last discussion ended with an argument I could paraphrase:
"It is better for the world that we should be making progress, therefore
a judicious and responsible person will of course believe that we are,
with no questions asked." I am surprised that the deep psychologists on the 
did not comment further on the epistemology assumed here.

But... I have seen So MANY well-meant government programs go awry,
that my views are a bit different. Sometimes the best guarantee of failure 
is the
BELIEF that there are no problems to solve. How can you solve them if you 
do not
even allow yourself to see them?

In Iraq...

The official line has been that we will move as fast as possible towards 
The, when there is a legitimate elected government of Iraq, all will fall 
in place, and we will be
able to get out. As soon as possible, of course. This has been sincerely 
meant, for the most part.

And today -- the shoe falls. (Or A shoe falls.) A coalition of those
folks most sympathetic to us in Iraq has agreed that we can't hold 
elections for
quite a while...

So we MUST think twice about what is going on.


There is a simple first-cut explanation. (Sadly, as the clock ticks here, I 
doubt I
will have time for a refined version...).

The Sunnis know they will lose. So of course, they are fighting to the death,
on many fronts at once, to prevent the new almost-Iranian regime they
forsee. The informed world all knows that the US commitment to
absolute majority rule in a unitary state really means a Shiite Iraq...
and they laugh at us for serving that goal, while doing our best not
to capitalize on the limited benefits it offers us (e.g. potential
support form Iran, if only we didn't do our best to insult and offend all
Iranians at all possible opportunities, rational and irrational both).
Iran has even offered to help us achieve our goal, and they men it sincerely...

So... as the Sunnis fight to the death...
to try to win an all-or-nothing gamble, to restore Saddma's style of unitary
rule... versus the new Shiite style they expect...

I remember the noises some of us once made about
the alternative of a more federal kind of system, less unitary,
for Iraq. As was done in Germany after World War II -- but
there is more logic for it in Iraq! I recall all the politically correct 
reaction to that idea from the left and the right both ... the
ideological commitment to absolute unitary states... yet I wonder:
would the Sunnis be so bad, and so afraid of elections,
if they had a certain amount of assurance that they could live in their own way
in their own region? And it does not surprise me that the Kurds
joined with the Sunnis in yesterday's pronouncement.
Yes, there are tricky issues in managing internal regions...
and some might cite Afghanistan as an example  of what happens
when local warlords are given to much power... but...
one thing is for sure: we do need to pay some attention to their most 

Nation-building without sensitivity doesn't work. Yes, we
need to be firm -- but we also need to avoid being blind
(or downright autistic in our collective behavior).



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