A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Monday, October 17, 2005 :::
Despite provisions in the rules that seemed to doom the proposed Iraqi constitution, it passed. As was easy to foresee, the vast majority of Sunnis voted against it, but that was not enough to have it fail in three provinces, which would have meant failure overall.

This does not mean, however, what the Administration and its supporters want it to mean, or at least not obviously. Let our able and distinguished Secretary of State make the case, as quoted in this morning’s Wall Street Journal.

"The Sunnis are now invested in this process," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on "Fox News Sunday." "There is no political base any longer for this insurgency."

This assumes that the insurgency is based on something like this: The Sunni elite encouraged their people to stay away from January’s elections. Average Sunni were then shocked to find found themselves locked out of the process, so they got mad, and their elite encouraged their anger as a way to justify the leaders’ miscalculation on the first election. Now that the leaders are “in” the process, they will find it worth their while to assure their followers that everything will be ok.

To which anyone who followed the world in the ugly 20th Century can only respond: Sinn Fein.

It is entirely possible for a movement to have leaders involved in the system even as they feed popular anger that the system itself is illegitimate.

There is this one difference: despite what your raving Irish aunt might have said, the IRA has rarely enjoyed much popular support. In Iraq, however, the Sunni are very much supported by…the Sunni.

The Sunni think the Shi’a are apostates and infidels, a stench in the nostrils of God, as George F. Will memorably and accurately translated their feelings. And, as Mr. Will also pointed out, the Shi’a reciprocate.

The reference to “your raving Irish aunt” brings up another point: without outside support, the IRA would have folded decades ago. In addition to wide popular support among themselves, as it were, the Iraqi Sunni are supported by technically secular Ba’ath Syria, and by technically very much not secular Saudi Arabia. Please remember how the secular Saddam suddenly got religion after the First Gulf War. “Whatever it takes” is a popular saying among leaders in that part of the world, as it is among leaders in every part of the world.

Sunni leaders have demanded an audit of the vote, saying that Shi’a showed up in their provinces and voted. Democratic Party activists said similar things here in the US following the elections of 2000 and 2004. (2004? Oh, but yes. In 2000, they said that it was immoral that the loss of one state (Florida) would deprive Al Gore of the presidency, though he had won the popular vote by 500,000. In 2004, they said that it was immoral that the loss of one state (Ohio) would deprive John Kerry of the Presidency, though he had lost the popular vote by 3,000,000. They therefore pressed wild claims about irregular voting in both states. What it comes down to is that Democrats think that it is immoral if any Republican wins any election.) So, yes, today’s protests are a normal part of democratic life, for good or ill.

But they also show that the Sunni are still the Sunni.

They believe what they believe.

They say what they believe.

They do not hide what they believe.

They preach what they believe day in and day out.

And the Shi’a have pushed for a weak federal system where oil revenues are reasonably controlled as they build ties with Iran, in fulfillment of age old beliefs that the Shi’a, followers of Ali, the true heir to the Prophet, should have a kingdom all their own.

And the President of the United States himself has said that Iraq has become a breeding ground for terrorists who could destabilize the region.

You may wish to search around the website of the Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, available here. (For some reason, one cannot link individual pages.) Boosters of the war have cast him as the “Martin Luther” who made way for the “Konrad Adenauer.”

Mr. Sistani does not see himself as a transitional figure at all, but as one who furthers the truth. He has, with great consistency, opposed the war, and opposed early US withdrawal. Until, in the Eastern provinces of Iraq, the kind of state he has long envisioned is finally established. Flip through what he has to say about unclean things and the nature of Islamic society, and you will understand why he has said what he has said about the US but never, ever met with any American official.

And why his close ally, the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, has

supported the war,

supported our continued presences,

and preached openly about the day when a pure, Shi’a Iraq will lead jihad against…well, you fill in the dots.

People believe what they believe, and say what they believe. Ignore them at your peril.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 6:14 PM



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