Posted by Eugene Tenenbaum on May 09, 2003 at 15:02:31:
By Eugene Tenenbaum, M.S. in Urban Planning
Bronx, May 09, 2003
Any federation with 60 % Shiite majority should always collapse, because there is nothing to prevent the Shiite majority from voting against it, and taking power. Iraqis tribal, feudal state of mind is hierarchical, antidemocratic, peremptory, ego, and not compromise oriented. Considering that if in lieu of a majority a coalition is created instead, so one excludes the other [sic!], an Iraqi federation including the 60 % Shiite majority does not make sense to begin with!
In the future, after the coalition arm forces leave the unbalanced “democratic” federation of whole Iraq, if the absolute Shiite majority slathers a 100,000 Sunnis, will the US government say - Oops! A solution may be two Iraqi countries: Northern Iraq Federation without a dominant majority, and Shiitic Southern Iraq, i.e. Arabian Croatia and Serbia directly without Yugoslavian fate.
Considering that beside Kurds just Shiites have roughly 50,000 reasons (victims of 1990 insurrection) to fight Sunnis, it is not reasonable to expect that they will be more peaceful than Northern Irish savages who have fought each other for last 300 years having quite fewer reasons in the last decades. The only suitable solution of the ethnic and religious mentality of revenge is an effective separation of the aggressive and armed parties (Kurds are armed like Taliban), and the powerless, so they would not kill each other, if they wanted.
Does anybody have a moral or ethical right to risk Sunni’s lives - old oppressor, but in majority innocent – or even to risk the lives? History clearly shows that Catholics and Protestants - Christian or Arabian - do not mix without bloodshed. Do we need another experiment to see it? Are the Northern Irish, Rwandan, Yugoslavian experiences, or the Holocaust not enough?
History (incl. Old Testament’s analogy - Hebrews wandering Sinai for 40 years) shows that the time necessary for a nation to rise from the Arabian reality – tribal, feudal, like in medieval Europe – to something only resembling a predisposition to democracy in practice can be measured in generations, without a need to send psychologists or sociologists to study and research the issue in Iraq, and just considering how much time, effort, wars and dead it took to establish democracies in Europe, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Mexico, etc.
Not only Iraqis are not democratically savvy, but - from my experience – not many grasp the advantages of Jeffersonian separation of church and state – the insurance that religion will not be used by state to discriminate against a part of nation, as it used to happen all the time. In particular, the vast majority of Poles including professors – my friends (I am the last Jewish refugee from Poland educated there), almost all refugees from the Soviet Union (met a few thousands in the refugee camp in Italy), and all Jewish refugees from Iran (met in the camp). Their children, already in the US, start to display some understanding. It appears that only their grandchildren will fully assimilate here.
If it takes American immigrants just two generations to comprehend and adopt democratic principles while “sitting in them up to their ears”, it is impossible in a foreseeable future of less than a few generations to have a working democratic civic structure in any form in tribal Iraq, where there is not any surrounding democratic environment they could learn the principals from! Therefore, the Iraqi’s reality is a tribal structure mixed with the religious fervor.
If somebody thinks otherwise while even wishing for, declaring doing, hoping for, or wanting the best for Iraqis, he must be not sincere, recklessly selfish, and not carrying for the lives of the innocent (e.g. Sunnis), who most likely will die in a lurking bloodsheds, and he is not ethical exposing others to a danger, and not moral not carrying for others like for himself, and not good, but evil, because of disregarding an imminent bloodshed. It is like with a mental patient or a child. You cannot expose him to hurt himself, and you cannot expect him to be a mature adult, and you cannot force him to go to work, if an orphan, but you can only expect that he can do something appropriate to his state.
Shiitic mentality can be seen in Iran, but Eastern Europe is another example of people’s behavior after a long time religious depravation. For DECADES, they become very strongly drawn to religion that fills up the long time spiritual void!
Animosities may last for centuries like in Northern Ireland, Kashmir, Poland, etc., though usually people do not kill each other, not because they do not want to, only because they cannot. If they are able to kill, everybody will flee. Despite that all Jews have fled Poland some decades ago, the anti-Semitism there lasts. Calling somebody “-You Jew!” is the widely used insult there. Not a separate “kike” insult, like in English, but the word “Jew” does both like the word “Negro”. Having enough reasons to be killing for a century, Iraqis are missing only an opportunity that could be provided by a wishful state structure.
Not hoping hypocritically for democratization of the minds of Iraqis, and in order to have a future political system somehow stable, it should be tribal, and without a dominant majority to avoid a massive bloodshed. Since the Shiites will not disappear, the only solution is to divide Iraq into two countries: Northern Iraq Federation without a dominant majority, and homogeneous Shiitic Southern Iraq without minorities.
The disadvantages of such a solution are practically none: two visas, like on a trip to the Czech and Slovak Republics, instead of one, like - to Czechoslovakia. The main advantage would be a smaller chance of the bloodshed, and therefore a smaller occupying force, and its cost to keep peace. Shiitic Southern Iraq could be left for a self-governing within months.
Northern Iraq Federation would require to hammer out a coalition that is ONLY realistic without the Shiite majority. Such Federation should not cause the Turks to complaint against a separate Kurdish country, because Kurds would still be a part of small Northern Iraq giving them more protection than in a bigger one. The worst-case scenario - very likely - is that such Federation turns into new Lebanon that would still be better than a massive bloodshed.
Dividing Iraq into two countries is the most flexible form of state. If by a future miracle they like to unite, they will do. If not, they will stay divided into two countries. In the worse case, the North could (hypothetically) divide into smaller countries representing the earlier members of Northern Federation.
The border between Northern and Southern Iraq could be just north of Karbala, and then perpendicularly to the Saudi border. In the other direction - from the north of Karbala to just north of Najaf, and then perpendicularly to the Iranian border, so both Kabala and Najaf would be in Southern Iraq, but next to the border with Northern Federation giving a close access to both holy cities from the border. The British in charge of Southern Iraq could be a good way to proceed there.
Iraq’s debt could be divided proportionally to the Northern and Southern oil production during a selected time period, and treaties on transportation, movement of occupying forces, etc. should be signed with North, South, and in-between.
One good political move does not imply the next good one, but the following overconfidence may blind from seeing further mistakes contributing to the demise of the politician. Hopefully, the Middle East peace roadmap does not comprise of: one miracle in end of May, one miracle in 2004, and the final miracle by the end of 2005. It is nice to have good wishes, but even nicer is to do something useful, even small. Small is beautiful including two Iraqi countries.
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