BULLWINKLE: Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.
BULLWINKLE: Nothin’ up my sleeve. (riiiiiiiip!) Presto!
ROCKY: Wrong hat.
BULLWINKLE: I take a size 7 1/2.
Bullwinkle tried that trick about 10 times but was never able to master it. He pulled everything but a rabbit out of that hat, proving if nothing else that he was bound and determined to make that rabbit appear despite being wrong so often in the past.
For some reason, Bullwinkle’s efforts in this regard reminded me of media coverage over the last 3 years of the Iraq Civil War.
What’s that you say? You mean to tell me that there hasn’t been an Iraq Civil War? You’d never know it by reading what the “experts” have been saying over the past several years, including our own State Department, the CIA, and all of those wise and prescient “analysts” so beloved by the media.
Here’s a random listing of articles from “experts” telling us that the Iraq Civil War was imminent or that it had already started.
“Iraq’s Civil War” Slate (5/2-03)
Beirut Redux The New Republic (5/15/03)
“CIA Officers Warn of Iraq Civil War, Contradicting Bush’s Optimism” Common Dreams, (1/22/04)
“Civil War in Iraq?” Anti-War.Com (7/22/04)
“Possibility of Iraq civil war looms large” China Daily (9/22/04)
“Iraq Edges Toward Civil War” United Press (12/28/04)
“Seymour Hersh: Iraq “Moving Towards Open Civil War” Democracy Now (5/11/05)
“Allawi: This is the Start of Civil War” Times Online (7/10/2005)
“Weekend of slaughter propels Iraq towards all-out civil war” Times Online (7/18-05)
“Undeclared Civil War in Iraq” CBS News (9/26/05)
Iraq: Game Over Tom Paine (12/22/05)
It would be hilarious if the subject matter weren’t so serious.
If there’s one thing that the press has yet to realize (and even bloggers who should know better) is that just about every word they’ve ever written can be retrieved with a click of a mouse button. So when we can easily see how many times they’ve cried “wolf!” in the past with regards to an Iraqi civil war, we can begin to examine events in that bloody, tragic country as they really are and not through the prism of bias and stupidity.
Iraq is in trouble. No one with half a brain denies that. The fact that Iraq has been in trouble since the statue of Saddam fell escaped many observers including most of the civilian Pollyannas in the Department of Defense and even some Rebeccas of Sunnybrook Farms in the White House. The forces at work spreading chaos, blood, and sectarian divisions have at times been underestimated and downplayed. This miscalculation has cost both Iraqi and American lives and contributed in no small way to the current state of affairs Iraq finds itself.
The war in Iraq is now not between America on one side and homegrown insurgents and their allies in al Qaeda on the other. The war is between Nihilism and Order. It is between hope and despair. It is between the past and the future. And most assuredly, it is between democracy and tyranny.
We might not particularly like the kind of democracy that Iraq is moving toward. It doesn’t look much like ours and it incorporates some elements of religion that most Americans would find unacceptable. Be that as it may, democracy is not an event, it is a process (HT: Reynolds). And the process, despite the bombings, the murders, the beheadings, the blowing up of mosques, and all the other furies of war that have been unleashed on that benighted country, is moving forward.
It may be moving two steps ahead and one back at a time. And in the end, time itself may work to destroy the fragile hopes and dreams of a people who have suffered through a conflict that features actors who have more at stake than what happens in one tiny corner of Mesopotamia. Make no mistake; both the United States and al Qaeda, as well as most of the other countries in the region, are fighting this war for goals that reach far beyond the sandy expanse of Iraq. This is a war for the future and what shape it will take. In that respect, every nation in the world is affected by what’s happening in Iraq.
It’s always easier to spread chaos than instill order in societies that wish to be free. For that reason, we’ll always be at a disadvantage against our enemies in Iraq. But maybe, just maybe, there is just enough hope in the future among just enough people in Iraq that in the end, it is they who will be able to will a new Iraq into existence. Consider:
- Every single politician of note from all sects and all regions of the country have called for an end to the violence.
- Every prominent religious leader (including the problematic cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) have appealed for calm.
- In the mixed neighborhoods where Shias and Sunnis live side by side, there has been cooperation in protecting each others lives and property. Many Sunni mosques are being guarded by Shias and vice versa.
- Both Sunnis and Shias have begun rebuilding the Shrine in Samarra. This began less than 12 hours after the bombing.
- The same Powerline reader who passed along the rebuilding news, points out that it appears the bombings have had the opposite effect; it has brought Shias and Sunnis together in a unity that was not there before the destruction of the Shrine.
In short, the forces at work to keep a civil war from happening are strong. Are they strong enough?
Only time and circumstance will reveal the answer to that question. But I’m sure of one thing; the people who have so confidently been predicting civil war in Iraq for 3 years haven’t been right yet. Why believe them now?