Assessing actions and solutions for Iraq: Why Zakaria failed to see the reality and hoped for the problematic?

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[COMMENTARY]






Fareed Zakaria’s Newsweek article “Don’t Forget America’s Other War” tells so much about how Obama’s withdrawal of American military forces in the war-torn, almost failed-state Iraq becomes a necessary precondition to foretell the future of the country. Yes, he does portray that America has been a global knight in shining armour and that civil strife in countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan among others is an obligation that must be undertaken  - may it be in brute force. Zakaria puts an implicit positive view towards the war itself,  that military deployments, police trainings, aids, etc. had actually helped to at least neutralize insurgency and to harness local defenders to care for themselves once America leaves. No one can really blame Saddam Hussein nor Mubarak nor the Iraqi officials for not employing effective measures against hardcore insurgents in the country without the help of the Americans during Bush’s and Obama’s administration. Insurgency in the country is just hard to eliminate – it’s too big a task for a government which lacks political will, proper training and experience of the military and police, pressures and control over corrupt government leeches. Fear of the insurgents themselves makes civilians less participative and active in siding against the known enemy. What is the main problem, anyway? It is important for foreign policy makers, Obama and the local Iraqi officials to identify the major root of the problem. Fareed Zakaria argues that the reason why internal civil enmity still persists is that there have been problems emerging from political differences between Iraq’s divided constituencies: the Sunnis and the Shiites. It is reasonable indeed to say that divisiveness in Iraq is rooted from an age-long religious tension in the country. This problem is even worsened by fundamentalists and extremists from both sides of the pole, employing the use of force and violence to antagonize each other. The Sunnis and Shiites however are not alone. Kurds who still insist on claiming parts of Iraq add up to the tensions. The basic assumption is that these three are seeking for control of Iraq. Politics is strong and lust for power is a competition. But no one should wait for them to go in the streets of Iraq and kill each other, Obama nor any other heads of state don’t want to see bloodshed, causing several civilian deaths. Zakaria suggests that the best way to solve the problem is that “Iraq needs a stable power-sharing deal.” Conciliation may be a good idea but can the Iraqi officials or the international community do about a long-standing dispute which arises from religious differences, progressing into a much harder political enmity? Two things Zakaria is looking forward to: compromise and negotiation.
Talk about compromise first. How much would it take for the three groups to compromise to achieve a power-sharing deal? Although I’m a little bit pessimistic about this issue, it does still make sense though. But are we not learning enough from Mugabe-Tsvangirai power tandem? Has it put any end to Zimbabwe’s major problems? Yes it might have shut close opposition for a while but Morgan Tsvangirai giving in to Mugabe’s unfair condition (Tsvangirai legitimately won the election, but Mugabe won’t just step down) didn’t make a better Zimbabwe in terms of governance among others. Nor did we realize anything from Israel’s reluctance to a two-state policy to end all wars. Zakaria is not seeing that compromise is not always practical for self-interested power seekers. Nor his negotiating solution could be sustainable. If no one wants compromise, negotiating isn’t possible. The two-state policy solution is the best panacea ending tensions in the Middle East especially between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Aren’t you wondering that if Netanyahu agrees to it, aggression from Hamas and Hezbollah would lessen, making a probable indefinite truce between them? It is absolutely practical for most but Netanyahu and his people aren’t seeing that way. Mubarak on the other hand may be the pragmatist, but no one assures that negotiating for a power-sharing solution will end up positively. Zakaria however puts the burden to the people to compromise and negotiate their “differences” peacefully. Yes it does sound reasonable that willingness is from the public, not from the government, but isn’t it the same to what Iranians did? Public opposition against the results that threw Ahmadinejad to another term was perhaps the strongest public display of political will against a bad government since the People Power in the Philippines but such approach doesn’t always work as expected. The major issue is that as long as the government is strong even without  public support, opposition will have it’s way cut short. After all, Iran’s reactionary opposition from the people is at its early pace, it’s not that strong enough to challenge the government. One would just expect that it depends on the quality of popular opposition. Correlating it to Iraq, pessimism arises when the issue is that the people should lead to compromise and negotiate. The country is war-torn for Pete’s sake! Nobody expects that political will is strong when the entire state is a battlefield, that collateral damages weaken morale and that bullets and shrapnel everywhere instill fear to the people.

 “Its politics is becoming more pluralistic and democratic; its press is free’ its provinces have autonomy; its focus has shifted to business and wealth creation, not religion and jihad” writes Fareed Zakaria. But the question is, how much does the surge of pluralism and democracy in a war-torn country makes it a long-run optimism when even the government is corrupt and incompetent? How much does pluralism and democracy make their way towards peace when the enemy is still at large and is unwilling to compromise and that local authorities cannot take care of their own people? Still, how much would it take for the rich to make a change when their money is used for injustice and violence? The better way to win the war is to win it no matter what, because it’s the only option at hand. If America leaves with Iraq still infested with the worst kind of insurgents, Zakaria’s hopes will not be met. Compromise and negotiations will only be possible for people who are willing to do so. Iraq is not the place for that.

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