Signs of independence
There have been obvious signs over the last few days that the Iraqi government intends to do more of its own heavy lifting from now on. Assets appear to have begun being shuffled already.
I’m doubtful that my unit or I will be affected, but it’s fairly clear that the Iraqi government is quite interested in Iraqis taking care of their own problems. This is as it should be. While the United States and its allies have clear ideas about what Iraq should become, Iraqis are ultimately going to be the ones who decide what Iraq will evolve or devolve into.
Iraq isn’t really Iraq yet. Rather, it’s Shia, Sunni and Kurd, as it has been for a long swath of history. Under Saddam, Iraq was only held together by brutal force, one sociopath’s will and his ability to inflict raw fear. Whether Iraq will coalesce or splinter remains to be seen. Many Iraqis are staking their lives on the eventual outcome here. It seems clear to me from the elections held in December that most Iraqis want to solve debates a new way, through discussion and political processes rather than the use of force.
I have heard the first messages from the new Prime Minister about disbanding militias. What’s really critical is quelling the insurgency because the militias, in part, are a response to the lack of security for Iraq’s citizens. Integrating the militias into the military and police forces may be a partial solution, but only if the police and military are led by nationalists who can do two things – a) survive and b) control their units.
The United States, Britain and other members of the coalition will increasingly have to stand by on the sidelines as the Iraqis discover their national identity and try to forge a nation that respects life and affords citizens an existence of dignity and choices. It is going to take generations.
In the meantime, Iraqis will increasingly be going it alone.
â€œCertainly at the end of this year there would be a sizeable gross reduction of troops,â€ he said. â€œIn the next couple of years we would hope that most of the coalition forces will go back home safely.â€