Sunday, August 5

Dawa party: Oh no! We're becoming our enemy!

"Americans know so little about the Middle East that few of us are even aware of one of the building blocks of Arab Muslim cultures -- cousin marriage. Not surprisingly, we are almost utterly innocent of any understanding of how much the high degree of inbreeding in Iraq could interfere with our nation building ambitions."
-- From Cousin Marriage Conundrum by Steven Sailer, January 2003

Sailer's 2003 piece is making the rounds again; I came across mention of his warning in the Culture section of Friday's Washington Times, which in turn quotes a current New Republic piece (Strangled by Roots) that makes reference to Sailer's essay.

Everyone should be aware of Sailer's writings, which deal with many important issues, such as race, that are virtually taboo in the mainstream media. And Sailer has developed a political theory that deserves attention. He calls his theory citizenism, which is based on the argument that national identity should take priority over race.

In short, Sailer's 2003 warning has some merit. Very definitely, Iraq's tribal/clan based social structure, which is based greatly on first- and second-cousin marriages, does present a challenge to US efforts of nation building and by implication the establishing of a modern democracy.

However comma the single overriding cause of Baghdad's failure to manage a nation-state has nothing to do with tribalism and clan-based society. The cause is childishly straightforward:

The members of Maliki's ruling Dawa party have no experience whatsoever in running a government -- any kind of government, not just a democracy. They don't know what the hell they're doing.
Maliki's critics say a key reason for Iraq's political woes is his reliance on Dawa party stalwarts selected more for loyalty than political experience.

"The problem is none of them have any sense of governance and how a government should function and run," said a senior Iraqi official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he works closely with Maliki. "They are mixing running a political party and running the government. They don't see the whole government as their government, only the people who they task, the people who they deputize."

Some Dawa party figures concede they are inexperienced. "None of us have run a government before," said Haider al-Abadi, an influential Dawa legislator. "We cannot deliver miracles
Well we're not asking for miracles, are we? We're just asking for a functioning government.

However, the Dawa party does have vast experience at conducting cell-based insurgency operations. Dawa was formed to resist Saddam Hussein's government. For decades Dawa waged an underground battle against Saddam. What that means for today is that while they are idiots at running a government, Dawa legislators are experts at being suspicious and thinking like secret police.

The upshot is that the Dawa party leadership are heading down the road of topping even Saddam Hussein's level of paranoia. Your attention always focuses on your area of expertise so quite naturally, Dawa leaders see plots against them wherever they look. Pundita is not pulling your leg:
At times consumed by conspiracy theories, Maliki and his Dawa party elite operate much as they did when they plotted to overthrow Saddam Hussein -- covertly and concerned more about their community's survival than with building consensus among Iraq's warring groups, say Iraqi politicians and analysts and Western diplomats.(1)
For how this situation is playing out see the following article. And for a rundown of how Iraq newspapers are viewing the political crisis right now, see the Iraq Slogger's Sunday entry.

1) Maliki's Impact Blunted By Own Party's Fears: Hussein-Era Secrecy Persists, Analysts Say, by Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post Foreign Service, August 3, 2007.

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