Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Silver Lining

The brutal killing that has gone on the last three years with Sunni Arabs futilely trying to bomb their way back into power and the last year of Shia Arabs meting out retribution to the Sunni Arabs for centuries of abuse may pay off as illusions are shattered of what the "natural order" has ordained for Iraq (via Real Clear Politics):

More and more Sunni Arabs know that their old dominion is lost, and that they had better take the offer on the table--a share of the oil revenues, the promise that the constitution could be amended and reviewed, access to political power and spoils in return for reining in the violence and banishing the Arab jihadists. The Shia, too, may have to come to a time of reckoning. Their old tormentor was sent to the gallows, and a kinsman of theirs did the deed with the seal of the state. From the poor Shia slums of Baghdad, young avengers answered the Sunni campaign of terror with brutal terror of their own. The old notion--once dear to the Sunnis, and to the Shia a nagging source of fear and shame--that the Sunnis of Iraq were a martial race while the Shia were marked for lamentations and political quiescence has been broken for good.

Reality may be sinking in all around in Iraq.

As I've said before in regard to our fight in Iraq, "losing" doesn't mean the Sunni Arabs shoot their way back into power. The Shias will win in any struggle based on brutality. So we have a floor for even a minimal victory in this reality. But I remain fairly confident that we can achieve much more despite the common wisdom that says we cannot build a democracy in Iraq. With Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shia Arabs in a multitude of factions, coalition building may yet be the only sure road to power in Iraq.

As long as we help build the institutions of peaceful elections and transfers of power based on those elections, the democracy that arises in Iraq will be real enough to be revoltuionary in the static despotism of the region.