The evil dictator whose crimes against humanity caused us to invade the historical fiction that is called “Iraq” has now been put down like the dog he was. There’s a lot of blather about “milestones” and “closure” and “justice being done.” All true, to a certain extent.
Then, Iraq being a nation of tribal and sectarian hatreds, there will also be the usual screams of “death to…” Fill in the blank. The Sunnis will vow revenge against the Shiites; Some Shiites will perhaps feel emboldened to continue to attempt ethnic cleansing, for which you may read “genocide,” against the Sunnis.
All factions will continue to distrust, to the point of hatred, the Americans who had to do the job of removing Saddam. And apologists for the tribal cultures of Iraq will warn us to be sensitive to the Arabs sense of “honor,” as if there were any to be found in the killing of those whose confession differs.
The essential question, which is as yet unanswered, is, can Iraq be salvaged as an actual, functioning nation-state? My sense is, based on evidence available, is, “no.”
The various sectarian and tribal groups that make up the colonial conceit that became “Iraq” are simply too much at odds. They don’t agree on matters of faith; they certainly aren’t going to agree to let someone else’s tribe lord it over their own.
In the Middle East, this is what it comes down to: the only model for successful governance appears to be the iron fist and the hobnailed boot. Will Saddam’s passing change this?
Doubtful. We are all, Americans, Sunni Iraqis, Shiia Iraqis, Kurds, members of the same fallen species: humankind. Muslims and atheists don’t get a pass from this fundamentally correct Calvinist point.