Monday, January 05, 2004

The news from occupied Iraq -- where the cluster bombs are still dropping, ethnic strife is rising, residents are blogging about everything from the dismal state of the power grid (private local generators are a growth industry) to the possibility of civil war, and our soldiers are running out of time to manage things themselves, can't, on the whole, be characterized as really great. But it's worth noting that all has not gone as the doomsayers might have predicted.

For instance, we have not yet seen the once widely anticipated "sellout of the Kurds", and according to an article in today's New York Times, we won't -- Dubya's crew has decided, they say, to maintain the Kurdish region's autonomous status, rather than try to bring it back under the domination of a possibly hostile Arab-based central government. Better yet, as Juan Cole notes, this is part of a general trend of Americans abandoning their large-scale transformative schemes in favor of getting out of the country as quickly as possible -- which those in favor of leaving Iraqi government to the Iraqis would have to see as good news, even if they're doing it for the wrong (American electoral) reasons.

Cole does have his worries, though, as here, where he worries that a division of the country based on ethnic bantustans may not be a good foundation for democracy pretty much anywhere. Nor, for that matter, necessarily even stability -- the article in the Times is, technically speaking, silent on the question of what happens if the Turkish army sends forces into the present Kurdish autonomous region after the US pulls out.

And then there's the question of whether Dubya's crew is planning to keep on meddling anyway -- Cole points to a report that Cheney is personally pursuing a revival of, of all things, Saddam's old secret police, with the explicit goal of "maintain[ing American] control over the direction of the country" after American troops pull out. Atta way to bring them democracy...


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