Monday, October 01, 2007

What to do about Iraq now? I wonder

A friend has asked me to comment on a statement by Seymour Hersh who has said “We've basically Balkanized” Iraq, “building walls and walling off Sunnis from Shiites.” (Interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE).

My response: I am deeply troubled over what the Bush administration has done, but as you say, we are now at a point where enough has been said about the blunders of the past. And of course none of us has clever solutions. The one thing I do think is that the American supposition that ethnic distinctions should be the basis of political recognition in the new government has made the extant distinctions in Iraq more politically viable and the differences more inflammatory than necessary. Consider what it would do to this country if representatives of the American public were chosen by the religious communities: Catholic, Protestant (several kinds?), Muslims, Jews, etc. The way the American government encouraged identities to be represented in Iraq has made the religious divisions among them, which were already serious problems for administration, even more politically electric. Dangerous business, I think. It would be nice if they could back away from that, for it will continue to provide a rich moral vocabulary for representing vested interests, even ignoble interests.

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