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Is the problem deeper than Islam?

Reader comment on item: Civil War in Iraq?
in response to reader comment: What is a "strategic tragedy"?

Submitted by Pat (United States), Mar 1, 2006 at 12:24

If the ultimate result (whether brought about through civil war, or by any other means) of removing Sadaam Hussein is a state that harbors -- or even supports -- Islamic terrorists, would this not be a strategic tragedy?

My answer to this question is that these conditions existed under Saddam Hussein and so his removal has changed nothing on that score.

Remember Abu Nidal? He was living in Iraq before the invasion. Saddam may have had him executed, but he lived for many years in Iraq.

Remember the money Saddam paid to the families of suicide bombers in Palestine? That was a great incentive for martyrdom.
Remember the airplane used by terrorists to practice hijackings?
Saddam financed and supported terrorists. He was no benevolent despot.

He may have kept them in check within Iraq, but that did not stop him from supporting their activities elsewhere.
Maybe al Qaeda was not in Iraq, but that didn't justify allowing Saddam to remain in place. Saddam did plenty of damage on his own.
As for the violence between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims, it has been going on since the dawn of Islam. Now it is being shown to the world. My question is: is this a problem of Islam or tribalism? The Kurds in northern Iraq are Sunni Islam, but I don't see them striking out against the coalition. We in the West tend to blame the tenets of Islam, but isn't the problem deeper than that? Everywhere there is Islamic violence, societies also tend to be tribal in nature. I would include the former Yugoslavia in that mix as well. Although not exactly tribal, it was created by outsiders. Its people didn't join together to form their own country. They were cobbled together by force.

We thought Germany and Japan were proof that a society could be rebuilt, but we forget that, however tyrannical their leaders may have been, these countries existed before the war and their people were united in their desire to rebuild.

Were Iraq and most other countries in the Middle East doomed from the start? Can warring tribes live peacefully in an artificially created nation-state without some degree of authoritarianism? It seems that only dominant empires and/or tyrannical rulers have kept this house of cards from tumbling down before now.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

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