Thursday | July 31, 2003
The field is wide open
by RonK, Seattle
No, not the field of successors to Gray Davis on the CA recall ballot.
And not the field of successors to Dubya in the Democratic primaries. [Not the Republican primary field either ... at least not yet.]
We're talking about the field of successors to Saddam Hussein.
In the alternative sequel, Iraq fractures along regional, ethnic, tribal and charismatic lines, like Afghanistan or the former Yugoslavia.
What about democracy? Iraq could be on the road to democracy, BUT ...
Iraq doesn't get real democracy until the Shi'a majority "gets religion" and embraces pluralism ... until some genius finesses the problem of regional anxiety over Kurdish federal autonomy versus Kurdish fear of nonfederal subjugation ... until gangsters demand law and order, warlords demand central authority, and theocrats demand separation of church and state.Iraq could be on the road to democracy. Stranger things have happened. By the same token, Iraq could be on the road to civil war, "protective" invasion by neighboring states, oil-fired intervention by major powers, confrontation among global powers, and choosing up sides for WW III. I rate the two extremes about equally likely.
The odds-on favorite is strongman rule. Mr. Strongman might be another butcher. With better luck, he's a brain surgeon ... but he's still Mr. Strongman.
Immediately post-invasion, the groundrules really didn't change that much. Saddam and his kin were still players, and everybody else had to play a waiting game.
Saddam and the boys no longer cast long shadows over Iraq's political landscape. The succession contest now shifts into a more active mode.
The next stage isn't a Clash of the Titans. It's more like training camp, ramping up to pre-season exhibition games. The serious contender has a lot of work to do.
Capitalize on grievances, stir up dissatisfaction, point the finger of blame. Raise and regiment an organization. Muster the angry young men into your ranks, before the next guy does. Give them something to do, and reward them for doing it.In this reputational game of live-fire exercises, US troops, vehicles and facilities are high-value trophies. "Get 'em while they last" ... and don't get caught.
From our perspective, the playing field heats up and the going gets bloodier with Saddam permanently out of the picture.Posted July 31, 2003 10:30 AM