The “insurgents” in Iraq aren’t primarily nationalists, jihadis, family members of war victims or anything else remotely ideological or principled: they are Sunni/Baathist thugs with a pathological sense of entitlement who are pissed at having the keys to the vault taken away. Jim Hoagland:
- At one basic level, the guerrilla war waged by Baathist remnants of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship is about money and privilege. The Baathists and their enormous clientele — which stretches far outside Iraq — have one of history’s most extreme senses of entitlement.
….The warring Arab Sunnis of Iraq want the money. And they want to regain the privilege of dominating the country’s other population groups.
This dead-ender sense of entitlement — to run the country or to reduce it to ruins so that no one else can — was underestimated by the Bush administration’s intelligence, military and political leaders in the Iraq war and its immediate aftermath. Wishful thinking about Sunni generals, intelligence chiefs and scientists rallying to a post-Hussein regime was quickly punctured by an insurgency that has taken on a life of its own.
It is a misnomer to call the war against the U.S.-led coalition and its Iraqi allies a nationalist struggle. The country’s majority Arab Shiite population offers tacit political cooperation to the occupation force, and the Kurdish Sunni minority is allied with the coalition. That represents three-fourths of the nation’s population. This war is led and fought by a small, embittered minority of oppressors.
They long for a return to power and to riches that existed on a scale most humans find unimaginable. Oil money enabled Saddam Hussein to build a machine of repression and death as well as his palaces. He and other Arab leaders used the West’s own misplaced sense of entitlement — to cheap oil and energy to waste — to enrich themselves and their supporters in places such as Samarra and Tikrit.
The Baathists used oil revenue to buy government officials, television executives, academics, newspaper columnists and double agents in Jordan, Syria, Egypt and other Arab countries — and even in the West.
….The “culture” that spawned the Saddamist dead-enders is a gangster culture. The townspeople of Samarra and Tikrit have a vested interest in restoring it. They and Iraq’s Sunni Arabs in general must be convinced there is a better way to live and let live.
The real question about U.S. policy now is not whether the toppling of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do — it clearly was — but whether the Bush administration can focus on and accomplish achievable goals in a whirlwind of conflict. [Washinton Post]
We need to make it extremely clear to the Sunni/Baathists that their reign of terror is over, there is no hope of it returning, and they must either integrate themselves into the new order or be eliminated.