It was just reported that a suicide car bomber blasted a crowd of police and national guard recruits as they gathered for physicals outside a medical clinic south of Baghdad, leaving at least 110 people dead and 133 injured! The recurring violence combines with the sharpening of ethnic faultlines to create a negative outlook for Iraq.
Of course, a lot of people would disagree with my negative view of the situation. In conversations with a conservative businessman shortly after the U.S. attack, I was told that my negative view of Iraq is wrong, for the simple reason that Iraq has so much wealth. The businessman basically claimed that all hell could break lose in Iraq and the foreign investors will stay simply because they know the money's there--in the form of black gold beneath the ground.
I would counter that nations require more than money, that there needs to be some ideological glue, no matter how tenuous, that binds people together. With Saddam, that glue was the Baath Party--aided by oppression of political enemies and a certain amount of plain terror. One can only wonder what will replace it. The American optimism that forsees a secular regime knitting together the various ethnicities strikes me as pollyanic optimism. Not that Bush and his cronies necessarily share this naivate. I suspect that they simply want to replace the old CIA-installed Saddam with another CIA-installed flunkey, every bit as awful as Saddam, who will adhere more closely to the American playbook. Whether the Shrub officials can micro-manage the country to be a bulwark of pro-Americanism in the Middle East waits to be seen. Meanwhile, the recent bombing makes the point, with red exclamation marks, that even the most meticulous planning in pristine rooms in Washington often fails to take into account the realities on the Iraqi street.
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