Friday, December 01, 2006
if another country invaded the hood tonight it'd be warfare through Harlem and Washington Heights:
Via Yglesias, it's the return of the 80 Percent Solution -- that is, supporting the Shiites and the Kurds against the Sunnis. Hope you guys like Moqtada Sadr! Every time this proposal comes up I can't exactly believe it'll take, but it's certainly durable. I endorse Matt's analysis in every detail, but for good measure, here's a slice from a piece of mine in 2005 when it looked like Bush was going for his 80 percent. Yo DJ, bring that back:

The aspirations of many Shia also surely include revenge on the Sunnis for decades of domination. That suits some in the Pentagon just fine. Proponents of the so-called "Salvador option" contend that U.S. forces should be augmented by Shia and Kurdish commando squads that will attack entire Sunni villages in the name of counterinsurgency (see Jonathan D. Tepperman, "Flash Back," April 11). The prospects for the administration portraying all sorts of illiberalism and sectarian bloodshed as consistent with an inexorably advancing democracy was chillingly foreshadowed by Rumsfeld, who told soldiers at Fort Irwin on Monday, "Democracy is not perfect."

Whether Bush will ultimately embrace Hakim's proposal is uncertain. According to Gerecht, unease with the Shia exists across the administration, but, he says, "I'm sure there's receptivity" to the idea of recognizing that "we do have a real partner in Najaf." But Bush might well remember that his supposed rationale for invading Iraq is to advance the war on terrorism, which is, in no small part, about convincing millions of Sunnis worldwide that the United States is not opposed to their religion. Directly supporting the Shia against the Sunnis in Iraq is about as counterproductive to the broader war as invading Iraq itself has proved. "I'm not sure the U.S. government could or should--it certainly shouldn't--pit the Sunnis and the Shia against each other," says Richard Clarke, the former Clinton and Bush counterterrorism adviser. "Not that it's in our interest." Unfortunately, in Iraq, acting against U.S. interests is about the only thing Bush has done successfully.

All I want for Christmas is for people to stop settling on one sect of Islam as the ultimate enemy and then convincing themselves that the opposing sect holds the answer.
--Spencer Ackerman