Tuesday, April 06, 2004

What are the options for Iraq?

Looking beyond the eruptions among the Shiites perhaps we should consider what the hell happens to Iraq in the future.

1. Western Style Democracy

This may be a blog, but it doesn't mean that we're stupid enough to believe that this is even a starter.

2. Cantonisation

The basic problem is the three disparate main communities in Iraq, each vying to be led by hucksters with an eye on the oil revenues and vowing no peaceful coexistence. What better way than to divide the whole thing up?

This won't work for three reasons. Firstly there are different factions within each ethnic group, as Kurdistan (which has already tried this route) with its two and a half governments can attest. Then you have the problem of smaller but still coherant and well armed groups such as the Turkomen and the Assyrian Christians who will want their own little bolt holes. Last but not least you have the fact that there's an awful lot of disputed territory with oil under neath it.

3. Bring in a strongman

This is quite a good option, only will a strongman take hold? Iraq may seem like a country made for the whack of strong government - after all it's hardly made for civic democracy - but even given its past record it is by no means certain that a there is an obvious strong man candidate.

The present candidate, Chalibi, may have the requisite career of large scale fraud and obsequiousness to America but he seems so damn unpopular. Besides he seems a bit too secular for the Shiites and a bit too Shiite for everyone else.

A strong man is probably what Iraq is destined for in the long run as long as it is a unitary state, but it is probably impossible to impose one while so many little-big men think that they have the chance of becoming big chief.

4. Shiite Theocracy

This is politely known as majority rule or one man one vote. There are very good reasons for it, in that we can say that not only have we demonstrably brought in democracy but we are comfortable with it coming up with different answers to those we wish. It also means that we have a stable regime to hand every over to as we make the quick retreat.

Of course the Kurds, Sunnis and Assyrians will hate this but as their areas are patrolled by Americans we can't really worry about them. Our colonised peoples will be pleased as punch that they can knock ten bells out of the Sunnis at last.

5. Don't go there in the first place

Alas the best option is not open to us.


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