Defining the Iraqi Question
I have some criticism on my piece Iraq victory: Middle East salvation posted here. Unfortunately, this criticism was based on a political platform, it works as a political propaganda but it is not for discussing scholarly ideas. I am still waiting for such discussion and critique. Hence, I kindly ask who have any criticism concerning my thoughts to send it to me, to make sure that I have your thoughtful criticism.
I have to make something clear that I have nothing to do with the partisan polarization in the United States. The democratic movement in the Middle East has many friends and supporters from both parties. We need and seek to get bipartisan support to our cause. When we express the appreciation to President Bush, that is due to the FACT that he is the first American president who acknowledged the freedom and democracy cause in the Middle East.
In searching for something deserves a response in my article's criticism, I have found something interesting; the criticizer – he did not put his name -- said, "I'd like to ask Nassim Yaziji what he was on when he wrote, 'The war is worth all the sacrifices that have been made, and victory is inevitable, and not so far away.'….'Victory' is a pretty grand moniker to attach to such a dubious outcome….Back then it wasn't about the ensuring that the 'dream of freedom in the Middle East became 'a reality,' it was rather, about preventing Saddam's robot planes from dropping anthrax on New York City'.
For the American audience it is rightful to ask me for more explanation of my controversial say "The war is worth all the sacrifices that have been made, and victory is inevitable, and not so far away".
I will tackle that methodically. Then, first, we need to settle a methodology to define our terms. Any talk will be just a part of an endless political debate and political propaganda to the public, and will be meaningless without defining the terms of "victory" and "war" and clarifying their implications and settings in our discourse.
The "war on Iraq" was a war to overthrow the Iraqi Baathist dictatorial regime. The matter of WMD stockpiles and the full compliance with the international resolutions is a weak case, and for me, they are not the point.
The WMD stockpiles are obviously a means to communicate the public before the war. It is unrealistic to justify a war to the public with a geopolitical discourse. Nobody could be totally certain about those stockpiles – until now – in a country is larger than 400,000 km² and was ruled by an extraordinary dictatorship where transparency means death. Where the uncertainty, vagueness and bad intentions are just prevailed as the Baath Iraq, such claim of the WMD stockpiles is also uncertain.
The point of all is that Saddam and his regime are the danger and mean the danger; the perception of this danger has fundamentally changed after September 11. What was acceptable before 9/11 is not so after 9/11. The case of America under attack made this acceptance and overlooking impossible. In 2003 before the war, I said that Saddam is the WMD himself. The real issue, in my view, that Saddam in power has territory, money and scientists besides his personal banditry and criminal nature. Furthermore, he imposes a totalitarian Baathist regime on Iraq, and he has had a period of 12 years after his defeat in the Gulf war ΙΙ to react systemically by promoting the Islamization of the state and the society in Iraq in spite of the state's official totalitarian Baath ideology. This conduct, which its results have been visible now, somewhat indicates a huge mistake by the U.S. of keeping indifference to that in that period.
All that were a real danger but the realization of it entailed the 9/11. Many politicians and scholars are still skeptical of the existence or the scope of this danger. I indicated in my previous articles that the totalitarianism in its all aspects, religious and ideological could constitute an integrated system, a system of convenience and operation. And my evidence of that has become clear now through the regional totalitarian regimes' behavior concerning Iraq and the multinational forces there. Hence, the terror could be integrated into the totalitarian systemic behavior as an available and legitimate effective and fearful tool when the totalitarian system needs it.
Furthermore, on the "war on Iraq," it is obvious that this war did not intend to ensure the full Iraqi compliance with the international resolutions because the official objective of this war was changing the Iraqi regime not forcing him to do something.
Hence, this war was to break the Iraqi dictatorship through overthrowing Saddam's Baathist regime, and to install a democratic system in Iraq. Strategically, this serves many goals including:
-Reshaping the geopolitics of the Middle East; the region that has key importance to the international security after 9/11 and to the world energy security. And to tackle directly the American security concerns about terror.
-Establishing the shining center of freedom and democracy in the Middle East in Iraq which will be the base of the change and reform in the Middle East as a free and democratic country, besides removing the potential danger of the Iraqi totalitarianism and then benefiting from Iraq as an paradigm and operation center to cope with the other totalitarian rouge states in the region.
-Strengthening the American presence and power in the Middle East to ensure the American interests there in the long run, and to forestall the future movement of the future rivals of far east powers in this important region.
-Ending the late cold war era and the soviet legacy in the Middle East and weakening the flourishing authoritarianism there through denying the authoritarian regimes to get any political cover and through pressure them with ideas and policies.
-Deploying the change in the Middle East in promoting the foundations and bases of an international order can cope with world security challenges.
-Liberating Iraqi oil market from Saddam's regime and strengthening the U.S. reach to oil supplies.
This war is not concerning Iraq only but also the entire Middle East. And this war in sense and implications is not "Iraq war", it is "Middle East war."
After defining this war and its backdrop, I will define the "victory" term in this war.
Considering that the focal goal of this war is establishing the democratic state in Iraq. And the goal of the totalitarian and terrorist regimes and groups is to destroy this state. For some totalitarian neighboring regimes, the task is very clear that the new state in Iraq must fail whatever it takes. They know exactly that a next-door democracy is something unaffordable to the stability and sustainability of their rule. In addition, they need to convey a message, accompanied with a supporting show, to the world that they are the only option for stability in this region.
The jihadists, in their turn, want to expel the international presence in addition to its democracy from Iraq. And they need a sanctuary and operation base there.
Hence, the "victory" is the establishment of the Iraqi democratic state. This is to say, the establishment of the functioning state institutions under democratic guarantees and foundations, and through a comprehensive and inclusive political process.
Actually, this political process is almost done, particularly after forming the functioning representative government and the new Iraqi army and adopting a democratic constitution. This constitution must ensure basically the democratic political system and guarantees besides the human rights and democratic liberties, and those are adopted to large extent by the current constitution. The current disagreements on the some characteristics of the political system are an Iraqi issue subject to the Iraqis to tackle them through political compromise and by democratic means. It is normal for any constitution to develop through time and to have amendments.
The key political problem or deficit in the political process is the Sunni boycott of the political process and consequently the Sunni political marginalization. After the Sunnis made the wrong decisions and chose the wrong way to deal with the change in Iraq. Hence, the watershed in victory process in Iraq was the overwhelming success of the election of the full-term parliament to form the permanent government after the intensive participation of the Sunnis besides the all Iraqis.
Without this success and the inclusive and high turnout in these final key elections, the "victory" section in this article would totally change.
At this point, the final stake of the totalitarian and terrorist project on the exclusiveness and partiality of the Iraqi political system as a cover for the instability and violence in Iraq has failed. This will be a turning point in their destructive effort towards the chaotic and random violence against civilians.
Given the key achievements have been made besides the Iraqi economic potential and the wide international support, the main problem to claim "victory" is still the security issue.
The solely military thinking of this issue will be extremely misleading. The political considerations are essential and have determining quality in Iraq's security question. Currently, to arm the Iraqi National Guard and send them to destroy the insurgency in the Sunni west region, it may destroy the whole process and ultimately endanger the democratic project in Iraq, because that would be considered as a Shiite offensive on Sunnis.
The ability of Iraq to defend itself or the government to do so – as a condition to withdraw from Iraq -- is a term could not be perceived by the military sense only. It entails the political sense and considerations to deliver its meaning.
Hence, the inclusion of the Sunnis in the state's political institutions and political power is a key factor in the government's ability to defend Iraq. In addition, it gives the full legitimacy to the government's offensives inside Iraq and removes any political or public cover to the insurgency in the Sunni areas. This will fundamentally weaken it. Then the multinational forces could be redeployed toward more secure areas and to permanent bases keeping its supportive role to the Iraqi forces, along with a rolling reduction in the troops' number. Furthermore, the American and international responsibility to deal with the regional destructive role of some totalitarian regimes seriously is indispensable to ensure the victory in Iraq.
The violence is something familiar and somehow normal in the qualitative and historic changes in the political history. Building the first ever democracy in Iraq and the region in this comprehensive authoritarian environment is something could not be done in 20 months and smoothly. Nobody has expected that. Nevertheless, after establishing the state's new democratic political institutions, the security issue and its implications and requirements, including the political dues, is an Iraqi affair and is of the Iraqis' duties and responsibilities. Here the U.S. will just provide a supportive role inside Iraq and an essential role outside Iraq.
In the sense of this methodology I adopted in this article, I can say, "The war is worth all the sacrifices that have been made, and victory is inevitable, and not so far away". And after the latest elections in Iraq, and in case of no surprises happened, I can say also that the few next months would convey the good news to the American people who will receive their soldiers carrying honor and victory.