Monday, April 05, 2004

No Answers

Is it possible to develop reasonable solutions to the issues facing Iraq, when it is becoming more and more apparent that no one is even asking the right questions? Ever since the incidents in Fallujah last week, and throughout the rioting over the weekend, the response of the CPA has been one of bellicosity, rather than drilling down to the causes of the problem. Rather than proposing an immediate gathering at the table to redress grievances of the Shia factions, the Proconsul is responding with gunships and bullets.

This doesn't bode well for a June 30 turnover of sovereignty. It's clear that the situation is deteriorating, and will further do so in the absence of a very public facilitation of talks by the CPA rather than domination by force. It's clear that the state of affairs should have been long past this point by now. It's April, for chrissakes.

There's some great online discussion of these immediately topical issues going on in two locations that I frequent, and I freely admit I don't have the depth of experience to do these breaking events justice. Check these links out if you wish to stay on top of things:

Whiskey Bar
Juan Cole

Quite frankly, the following entry this morning from Juan Cole scares the crap out of me:
Muqtada's words before he went into retreat in his mosque: "Make your enemy afraid, for it is impossible to remain quiet about their moral offenses; otherwise we have arrived at consequences that will not be praiseworthy. I am with you, and shall not forsake you to face hardships alone. I fear for you, for no benefit will come from demonstrations. Your enemy loves terrorism, and despises peoples, and all Arabs, and muzzles opinions. I beg you not to resort to demonstrations, for they have become nothing but burned paper. It is necessary to resort to other measures, which you take in your own provinces. As for me, I am with you, and I hope I will be able to join you and then we shall ascend into exalted heavens. I will go into an inviolable retreat in Kufa. Help me by whatever you are pleased to do in your provinces. "

The bit about going into a retreat (i` and hoping to join his followers later so that they could ascend to the heavens shows an apocalyptic imagination at work. The US is facing another Waco, and what we know is that military sorts of force are the worst way to deal with apocalyptic groups like the Branch Davidians and the Sadrists. That approach only confirms their conviction that the forces of this world are attempting to prevent them from attaining paradise.
My gut feel is that we're quickly approaching a crossroads. I have little reason to harbor faith that the folks driving the bus will choose the right fork. I'm hoping against hope that I'm wrong.