Friday, March 24, 2006

In Allah We Trust

No doubt Afghani Abdul Rachman must feel very comforted by the outcry and concern of western governments and fellow Christians who are petitioning to save him from being sentenced to death as a result of his insulting and humiliating Allah by having converted to Christianity sixteen years ago.

On the other hand, he might be feeling a tad miffed at the fact that these same governments (and many American Christians) encouraged, ratified and praised the Afghan constitution that may well seal his fate wherein it is stated in Article Three:

In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.”

Damn! Never saw that coming! Dang it!

Oh well, never mind. The Afghan constitution was just a practice run anyway.
The Iraq constitution is way better! Just look at the Iraqi’s Article 3:

Iraq is a multiethnic, multi-religious and multi-sect country. It is part of the Islamic world and its Arab people are part of the Arab nation.”

See? Nothing to worry about there! If that doesn’t sound democratic then I…hang on a sec…ummmm

Article (2): 1st – “Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation:
(a) No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam

Double dang it! Shoot! Darn!

Maybe the third time’s a charm? What about the Palestinian constitution?

Article 7: “The principles of Islamic Shari’a are a major source for legislation. Civil and religious matters of the followers of monotheistic religions shall be organized in accordance with their religious teachings and denominations within the framework of law, while preserving the unity and independence of the Palestinian people.”

What the…!?
Is everyone cribbing off each other?
Don’t these people understand that religion and democracy don’t mix?
Have they learned nothing from George Bush?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

IRAQ: Ship Out, or Shape Up?

The Iraqi government can’t govern, the Iraqi security forces can’t secure, and public services can’t serve the public.
The occupation forces occupy only enclaves from which they raid and to which they retreat.
The citizens are left to fend for themselves, trapped in a no-man's land between the local militias and the U.S. military.

Majorities in the U.S. and Iraq (including the U.S. troops) are keen for an American exit for a variety of reasons but are these wishes sensible, reasonable or just emotional?
With Iraq nearly or already in a state of civil war would a U.S. departure help stabilize or improve the situation or would it accelerate a descent into further chaos?

If the US were to leave “immediately” then there will indeed be a full blown civil war as each interested group will seek to gain control and establish their own order and primacy. These groups will probably seek, and will certainly be offered, support from foreign neighbors who will also likely attempt to influence the situation regardless. The US would be politically emasculated (as if it weren’t already).

If the US “stays the course” the sectarian violence will continue. The US will have the options of supporting one group and destroying another, or trying to destroy all militants. The latter option might actually force the rivals into a coalition against the US forces, so the former choice might be “preferable”.

If successful the supported victors will have to be magnanimous to the beaten rival to mitigate inevitable resentment and concomitant problems. It’s anyone’s guess whether that would actually happen. There is also the possibility that the general Iraqi population, sick of war, sick of the occupation, sick of the government and sick of the sectarianism might create a popular uprising; but with no particular authority to rebel against or negotiate with, such an effort would be long and bloody too.

There are two options that have yet to be discussed publicly:

One is to abandon the rest of the country to civil war and redeploy and consolidate US forces to the South where a concerted effort to rebuild infrastructure, order and good governance might provide a working example desirable enough to be adopted or demanded by the rest of the country in time.

The other option is to get serious. Deploy far more forces to provide sufficient security and control to allow political and physical infrastructure to develop and take root. Such an effort might even elicit support from other countries after a while.

Both of these latter options would require a complete change of attitude, management and leadership in the U.S. Such a change cannot realistically occur before 2008. In the meantime the violence and resentment will continue. Should such a change occur it would take time to organize and years to implement.

These are the options as I see them.

The last option is of course what should have happened in the first place had the U.S. administration been sincere in its declared aims and reasons. It is now the most difficult of the options to undertake. I’m inclined to think it would be the “best”. But whether it is really possible, I’ve no idea.

There are particulars to each of these options that I've chosen to ignore for the sake of brevity but which could significantly alter the possible outcome of any course of action (such as how and in what manner would the US forces leave, or what would happen to all the prisoners in US custody?).

But in broad terms that's the view from my armchair. What's yours?