We can only hope and pray that the summary executions of members of the Iraqi army shown above and here are not what they appear to be. Because what they appear to be is an incendiary attempt to reignite the most brutal and vicious of sectarian wars. On that front, the sudden attempt by Ayatollah Sistani to rein back in his call to arms last week in order to avoid the worst type of sectarian conflict does not bode well either. Our coverage on Saturday is here and here.
My only and continuing concern is that we do not continue to believe, as Tony Blair apparently does, that further Western intervention on any side – Iran’s? Assad’s? Saudi Arabia’s? it gets surreal when you play it all out – can do anything but hurt us. The lesson to be drawn from the last decade is not that we somehow managed to pull off the impossible in Iraq and then, for some unfathomable reason, it fell apart, but that Iraq itself is a deeply divided country, has long been riven by sectarian hatred, was constructed precisely to exploit those divisions, and, without thorough secularization, is impossible to govern in one piece without despotism.
This is what we discovered while occupying it, and lifting up the rock on ancient, deep and resurgent cycles of sectarian fear and revenge. And if we could not truly change that deep dynamic with over 100,000 troops in the country over a decade at the cost of trillions – and it was an impossible task – there’s no way it can be changed with some weapons or humvees. Just look at who has our weapons and humvees now anyway: ISIS.
You have two choices there: a dictator or a constantly simmering civil war. And they tend to go together over time.
On saner, calmer notes, we introduced the poetry of Kevin Simmonds this weekend (here and here); the great Alan Watts explained what God is; Los Angeles never looked so serene; and someone actually had the bright idea of getting the government to create a safe and cool designer drug.
See you in the morning.