Anthony Shadid, who has covered the war in Iraq from end to end, has this depressing piece about the political stalemate–and the incompetence of Iraq’s political class–in the NY Times today. This paragraph is particularly revealing:
Iraq’s neighbors, in particular Turkey and Iran, often unhelpful, have taken to playing politics here like a parlor game. To break the deadlock, American officials were pushing for a power-sharing agreement that would keep Mr. Maliki as prime minister, and Mr. Allawi [who won a plurality of the popular vote] in charge of security. But, Iraqi officials say, the Iranians are opposed to Mr. Allawi, while the Turks have lingering reservations about Mr. Maliki. Syria, Jordan, plus Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states of the Persian Gulf are sure to want a say.
“We should blame ourselves as politicians because we allowed such countries to have so much influence in Iraq,” said Mithal al-Alusi, a former lawmaker.
Another Iraqi politician, Adel Abdul Mahdi says that a revival of the insurgency isn’t as much of a threat as somethng “unexpected” like a military coup. That makes sense. Iraq remains something less than a country–three Ottoman Empire provinces, badly knitted together by the Brits, a constant scene of internecine fighting except for those period when it was held in thrall by the brutality of a dictatorial leader like Saddam Hussein. We will have spent $3 trillion and countless shattered lives in an effort to give the Iraqis a shot at democracy. It’s still a long shot that they’ll take advantage of that.