2006 February 18 Saturday
Bush Administration Supports Ethnic Power Sharing In Iraq

Think the US is in Iraq to support the principle of one person, one vote? Not exactly. The US is backing a Kurdish proposal for a system of ethnic group power sharing in Iraq.

To enforce consensus, the Salahuddin document calls for a National Security Council that would include leaders of all the main political factions and, according to the document, "outline policies that reflect national unity and reach decisions based on the principle of accord." The document also echoes the Bush administration's insistence that the leaders of the two key security ministries -- defense and interior -- "must be neutral or accepted by all the parties participating in the government."

"There can be no political stability until all the Iraqi constituencies are included," Kurdish leader Barham Salih explained in a telephone interview from Baghdad on Wednesday. "That's why we as the Kurdish alliance are working on a government that includes these four political blocs."

What matters is that the United States is embracing these principles -- at the risk of alienating its Shiite allies. Zalmay Khalilzad, America's ambassador in Baghdad, explained in a telephone interview this week: "We support the basic ideas behind the Salahuddin principles. The security ministries have to be in the hands of people who have broad support, who are nonsectarian, without ties to militias. We cannot invest huge amounts of money in forces that do not get broad support from Iraqis. They will make their choices. We will make our choices, based on their choices."

Without the power sharing the more grasping members of minority groups can't be guaranteed to receive anything from the oil money spoils system. To put it more crudely: Iraq might have a better chance of internal peace if Kurds and Sunnis have lot of corruption opportunities.

Lofty notions of democracy are hard to square with what is happening in Iraq. The country is split along ethnic, religious, and linguistic lines. The country is in civil war. The war shows little or no signs of slackening. Plus, one of the factions is at war with the United States while another faction threatens to follow.

Iraq costs $5.9 billion per month. What a waste.

The war request submitted Thursday would lift military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan to $115 billion this year and nearly $400 billion since the fighting began in March 2003.


The war in Iraq now costs about $5.9 billion a month, while Afghanistan operations cost about $900 million per month, said the Pentagon comptroller, Tina Jonas.

That cost understates the cost of the war in several ways including wear and tear on equipment, higher overall personnel costs in order to recruit reluctant would-be soldiers, and future losses from long term medical care and less work out of the chronically injured.

The Bush Administration's budget request indicates it sees no slackening in the pace of the war.

"I'm still stunned that there's no downward motion at all in the monthly costs. And clearly in 2006, the administration plans on no end in sight to that," said Michael E. O'Hanlon, senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution.

Why is Iraq a mess? Well, for a start if you are a newer ParaPundit reader and are not familiar with the term "Consanguineous Marriage" then Iraq would make a lot more sense if you read my post "John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq" and from there clicked back to and read other related posts on that page. Also, the general poor state of Middle Eastern economies can be mostly explained by a single table of politically incorrect taboo information.

Another curious cost of the Iraq war is that the drug war is getting cut back in order to supply troops for the Iraq war.

Marijuana eradication efforts have been hampered by cutbacks in Air National Guard budgets and personnel have been assigned to tasks related to the Iraq war, Wagg said. National Guard helicopters are the most productive way to spot marijuana patches in the county's remote fields and draws, he said.

"We used to get three or four days of flying time. Now, it's one to 1 1/2 days," he said. "They do a great job for us."

Some drug decriminalization advocates might see this as great. But most of Bush's supporters are not for decriminalization and see illicit drugs as a bane on American society. Fortunately for them their brains will reward them for defending their man against inconvenient facts.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 February 18 01:56 PM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Conflict

gcochran said at February 18, 2006 8:49 PM:

'Consanguineous Marriage' - for example, W's parents were brothers.

Stephen said at February 19, 2006 5:11 AM:

Randall, you might be interested in this collection of research papers on first cousin marriage (esp. with reference to the middle east). The link shows cites from a paper I was reading, though a pubmed search of consanguineous and marriage gives some geographically wider matches.

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