Iraq Gone Mad


Is it official yet? Can we finally call what’s going on in Iraq a civil war?

Sunnis and Shiites (and their various factions) have been blowing each other up for some time now, and many people have called this a civil war for quite a while.

Now, thanks to Ned Parker‘s report in this morning’s Los Angeles Times, we have proof:

Suspicious of Iraq’s CIA-funded national intelligence agency, members of the Iraqi government have erected a “shadow” secret service that critics say is driven by a Shiite Muslim agenda and has left the country with dueling spy agencies.

Parker notes that the CIA funds the government’s official spy agency, INIS. That’s run by Sunnis. Now there’s a Shiite agency that’s spying, no doubt, on the spies. What a Mad situation (apologies to Cold War chronicler Antonio Prohías).

Is this a surprise? No. As I pointed out in May 2005, “Iraq’s developing civil war couldn’t have surprised the Pentagon.” That’s because the War Department’s own James A. Russell pointed it out in June 2002 in the excellent journal Strategic Insights, published by the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Contemporary Conflict, based in Monterey, California. Russell’s piece, “Shibboleth Slaying in a Post-Saddam Iraq,” noted:

The makeup of Iraq makes it difficult to envision anything but a Sunni-led minority ruling through coercion and force. So if not Saddam, then who and what? Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds present contending histories and circumstances that limit their ability to cooperate in a more representative form of democratic government. Each of these groups has more of an interest in governing themselves than in cooperating with each other.

Russell’s no peacenik. Now the managing editor of Strategic Insights, he was astonishingly shunted out of the Pentagon in early 2001 by the dual-disloyalist Doug Feith. No doubt because Russell was, and is, simply a pragmatic military guy with a mind uncluttered by either neocon illusions or personal greed for oil.

Likewise, the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal — and its chief war architect, Feith’s boss Paul Wolfowitz, ignored people like General Anthony Zinni, as I pointed out in September 2004 while noting that Iraq was already “plummeting into full-fledged civil war.”

Zinni’s May 2004 speech at Center for Defense Information dinner was frank and to the point. It’s still worth reading what he thought about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq:

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing about the benefits of this strategic move. That the road to Jerusalem led through Baghdad, when just the opposite is true: The road to Baghdad led through Jerusalem. You solve the Middle East peace process, you’d be surprised what kinds of other things will work out.

But misguided notions about the protection of Israel, combined with the greed for oil, were just too strong in the Pentagon. And that’s why the opinions of smart people like Russell and Zinni were ignored.

Now that we have Spy vs. Spy in Iraq, the madness won’t stop, and we’ll be even more stuck in the middle.