TITLE

Minority Rule

AUTHOR(S)
Peretz, Martin
PUB. DATE
April 2003
SOURCE
New Republic;4/21/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 15/16, p18
SOURCE TYPE
Periodical
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
The war in Iraq has come and--barely three weeks later--already seems about to be gone. Of course, this is not the end of the Iraqi venture. Indeed, if history teaches us anything about modern Mesopotamia, it is that this venture will only get harder. Iraq frustrates those who attempt to remake it. The combat for what was not yet called Iraq was one of those vast and legendary death-happenings of World War I, and it included, besides, a march of 13,000 British prisoners of war from Kut all the way to Turkey, an augury of what was to befall American troops at Bataan, which is to say, an augury of endless death en route. One of the blessings of the 2003 war is that military and civilian casualties seem to have been kept to contextually very low numbers; this is because the U.S. Armed Forces and their British compatriots have disciplined themselves, like the Israelis, to an exacting code of purity of arms. This, however, tells us nothing about the future of Iraq. Humane rules in warfare do not translate into practical state-building, even less into effective nation-building. Alas, Iraq is one of those cartographical creations bound by straight lines--always a bad omen--and incorporating muddled populations. Among these are Sunni Arabs, who constituted less than 20 percent of the population when the borders were laid down. Saddam Hussein did not declare himself president until 1979. But the interregnum was not even a pause between the cruel routines of Iraqi politics. First Nasserism, then Baathism defined the country's politics and social relations, perpetuating what by then were very old habits of barbarism and tyranny. The interethnic and inter-sectarian conflicts that have defined our grasp of the internal elements of this war were then, too, the essence of Iraqi policy. And the minority Sunnis held the upper hand. Sunni dominance in Iraq has been for decades the axiomatic formula for foreign interlocutors, first Great Britain and the U.S.
ACCESSION #
9535830

 

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