Senator John McCain, who apparently finds it even more difficult to grasp the complexity of the violence in Iraq than I do, today suggested that the war will be won “in four years”, predicting that by January 2013, “Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension”.
I don’t want to nitpick, but
- Iraq was pretty much free of “sectarian tension” before the U.S. invaded.
- Hard as it may be to understand, there are other, more powerful forces at work in Iraq than just the ones along the Shia-Sunni divide. There is the intra-Shia power struggle cum class war; there is the inevitable Arab vs. Kurd conflict over Kirkuk, which is not sectarian but ethnic; and, judging by the two attacks on IIP leadership yesterday in Baghdad, there is a lot of unfinished business among the Sunnis as well.
- Defining success as achieving a functioning democracy is all swell, but defining ‘functioning democracy’ is an altogether different matter, and one I’m sure will involve constantly moving goalposts if McCain is elected.