James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

When A Militia is Not a Militia

How many times have you heard "Whether or not we were right to go into Iraq, we can't get out now, because then the country will dissolve into civil war!"

Well, the civil war is coming already, if not already here. As William Lind writes:

The new militias are largely Shi'ite (the Kurds have an old and very capable militia, the peshmerga), they are aligned loosely in support of Iraq's new Shi'ite-dominated government (but not controlled by that government), and their main purpose is to fight the insurgents, who are Sunnis. It is fairly clear where this script is heading.

Like the American destruction of Fallujah, and the recent Iraqi elections, the rise and spread of Sh'ite militias devoted to fighting Sunni insurgents put ever greater pressure on Iraq's Sunnis to cast their lot with the insurgency. Shi'ite militias in particular leave them little choice; who else but the insurgents will protect them from Shi'ite militiamen? The situation in Germany during the Thirty Years' War may be an analogy: though many tried, few German princes could avoid casting their lots either with the Protestants or with the Catholics. Neutrality meant you became the victim of both.

So what is the U.S. to do, beyond not calling Iraqi militias "militias"? There is nothing we can do. The Wall Street Journal quotes Lt. Col. James Bullion, who works for General Petraeus, as saying, "There is no way we can stop the Iraqis from doing something they want to do. This is their country and their army now. We can't put that genie back in the bottle."

Better still is General Petraeus' own comment: "I want to get the hell out of here." Amen.

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