If big problems are to be solved, they must be honestly assessed. That is, unless they’re geopolitical problems, in which case they can be glossed over. Just take a look at Iraq, where a civil war isn’t officially happening.
It certainly looks like a civil war, though. While Americans were busy celebrating Thanksgiving, the Associated Press reported the Iraqi insurgency bombed Sadr City in Baghdad, killing more than 200 people. On Sunday, mortar fire killed at least 10 and set a U.S. military base on fire, at least a dozen gunmen attacked an Iraqi police checkpoint, more gunmen raided the town of Kanaan (which is northeast of Baghdad), and a car bomb killed five more south of Baghdad. The insurgency doesn’t exactly publicize its casualties, so untold numbers on its side may have died from military action conducted by U.S. and Iraqi police forces.
In fact, Iraq is such a bloody mess that it’s affecting the whole region. King Abdullah of Jordan will host President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki this week for a summit designed to curb the violence in Iraq. He told the Associated Press, “We could possibly imagine going into 2007 and having three civil wars on our hands.”
It is an arguable assertion that the other two conflicts the monarch referred to – Palestine/Israel and Lebanon – are intertwined with the Iraq problem. It is also a plausible argument that the worse the Iraq situation becomes, the more unrest and violence the entire Middle East will experience.
This is not a demand for withdrawal from Iraq. Nor is it an indictment of President Bush for his initial invasion – such indictments have been made at length over the past few years, and they don’t help, frankly. Iraq is experiencing a civil war, however, and it’s not just the oft-scapegoated President Bush who denies it. Throughout much of the world, prevention of escalation into a full-blown civil war is the goal in Iraq – not the quelling of a civil war that has already begun. It’s simply foolish – without admitting the reality of a situation, the construction of a positive solution is impossible.
Honesty is what’s needed to fix the plethora of problems originating in the Middle East – not irresponsible optimism. Civil war in Iraq is a defeat for the United States – and thus a defeat for much of the world, including many nations in the Middle East – but it is the reality at hand. Until the actual problem is admitted, progress toward peace won’t be made. Until the world can admit the civil war it wanted to prevent happened anyway, there will be no real peace – only fantasies of it.