Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The MSM needn't get breathless about a coming Iraqi civil war

A few days ago, the NYT breathlessly announced that civil war was imminent in Iraq. Showing more sense than can be seen in a year in the Grey Lady's editorial room, the Sunnis backed down. The NYT's evident excitement about an incipient Civil War clearly has its roots in the NYT's determined effort to destroy Bush's effectiveness as a President, and to see him replaced in 2008 by a Clinton or Gore. Others who also recognize the possibility of a civil war don't see it as the political disaster the NYT dreams of. For example, John Mendez thinks a civil war would only be disastrous for the Sunnis since they, a minority, no longer have Saddam's military machine to back them up:

What these killers don’t seem to understand is that it is the threat of civil war not the actual initiation of hostilities that is the true bargaining chip. The Sunnis have yet to fully appreciate the monumental shift that has occurred in the Iraqi power structure. Like Saddam before them, the Sunni leadership fails to grasp that they no longer have a monopoly on power. The feared Republican Guard is non-existent and Hussein’s chemicals will not rain down on the villages of the defenseless. Acts of violence will now be met with reciprocal attacks. The Sunnis are outnumbered, likely outgunned, and surrounded by a population that has, for the moment, forgiven but not forgotten yesteryear’s bloodbaths. The Sunnis may find that the today’s hated US “occupier” is tomorrow’s merciful defender. The Shiite and Kurds who make up the overwhelming majority of the population will make concessions in order to avoid bloodshed and to rebuild a nation where they now, for the first time in decades, have a political voice. However, once the general fighting of a true civil war begins, the Sunnis lose the ability to demand any concessions whatsoever and will find that the Shiites and Kurds will indisputably be much more heavy-handed than a US Marine.
Daniel Pipes is equally unperturbed by the threat of civil war:
Iraq’s plight is neither a coalition responsibility nor a particular danger to the West. When Washington and its allies toppled the hideous regime of Saddam Hussein, which endangered the outside world by beginning two wars of expansion, by building a WMD arsenal, and by aspiring to control the trade in oil and gas, they bestowed an historic benefit on Iraqis, a population that had been wantonly oppressed by the Stalinist dictator. *** The eruption of civil war in Iraq would have many implications for the West. It would likely: · Invite Syrian and Iranian participation, hastening the possibility of a U.S. confrontation with those two states, with which tensions are already high. · Terminate the dream of Iraq serving as a model for other Middle Eastern countries, thus delaying the push toward elections. This will have the effect of keeping Islamists from being legitimated by the popular vote, as Hamas was just a month ago. · Reduce coalition casualties in Iraq. As noted by the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Rather than killing American soldiers, the insurgents and foreign fighters are more focused on creating civil strife that could destabilize Iraq’s political process and possibly lead to outright ethnic and religious war.” · Reduce Western casualties outside Iraq. Vali Nasr, a professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School notes: “Just when it looked as if Muslims across the region were putting aside their differences to unite in protest against the Danish cartoons, the attack showed that Islamic sectarianism remains the greatest challenge to peace.” Put differently, when Sunni terrorists target Shi’ites and vice-versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt. Civil war in Iraq, in short, would be a humanitarian tragedy but not a strategic one.
In other words, while civil war may be a messy tragedy at the local level -- and I sincerely hope it doesn't happen for the sake of the ordinary Iraqis caught in the endless vice of sectarian warfare -- it's not the Armageddon that the NYT desires.