Friday, March 10, 2006

Schroedinger's Iraq

I'll bet you thought that the situation in Iraq is important, didn't you? And that therefore, it should be a subject of continued, in-depth reporting by our major newspapers so that we common folk could understand the issues at play there as we watch the evolution of this fledgling democracy.

Well, then, how come the most clearly written discussion of the politics in Iraq come from a Charles Krauthammer op-ed piece?
Lost amid the news of all the bloodletting in Iraq is an important political development: The Kurds have switched sides. In the first parliament after the first set of elections, they allied themselves with the Shiite slate to produce the current Shiite-dominated government led by Ibrahim al-Jafari.

Now the Kurds have joined with the opposition Sunni and secular parties to oppose the Shiite bloc. The result is two large competing coalitions: (a) the Kurd-Sunni-secular bloc, which controls about 140 seats in the 275-seat parliament and would constitute the barest majority, and (b) the Shiite bloc, which itself is a coalition of seven not-always-friendly parties and controls 130 seats, slightly less than a majority.

If only it were that simple, Iraq would have a new, secular-oriented government. But to protect minorities and force the creation of large governing coalitions, the Iraqi constitution essentially requires a two-thirds majority to form a government.

If we had that requirement in the United States, we might still be trying to settle the 2000 election. In Iraq, the result for now is stalemate, which could lead to disaster if the whole system disintegrates because of the impasse. Or it could lead to a more effective, less sectarian government than Jafari's.

Krauthammer then discusses the various ministries and the jockeying for position and and internal conflicts within each of the major players in Iraqi politics at the moment. He concludes:
The security situation is grim and the neighboring powers malign. The one hope for success in Iraq is political. The Kurdish defection has produced the current impasse. That impasse has contributed to the mood of despair here at home. But the defection holds open the best possibility for political success: an effective, broad-based national unity government that, during its mandatory four-year term, presides over an American withdrawal.

Thus, in one short column, Krauthammer lays out the current political situation in Iraq; puts the current impasse in some understandable context; and makes the MSM look like they are a bunch of clowns who haven't a clue about what is really going on there.

What is going on there is politics that will, for good or ill, lay the foundation of the Iraqi democracy. The moral of this story is that if you want to understand the news from Iraq, don't count on the MSM. (You knew that already, didn't you?) They are capable of excitedly reporting on the latest bomb explosion and following the death toll with great enthusiasm (without even put that into context), but they are utterly uninterested in discussing the actual dynamics of the situation there.

The political agenda of the MSM has resulted in a strong observer bias; and that bias is distorting the overall picture; as well as driving US opinion. The MSM outlets no longer exist as independent observers assessing the situation; but are simply instruments that are capable of measuring only one possible outcome regarding the viability of Schroedinger's cat Iraq. Their measurements can only record data supporting the probablility of death. All other probabilities cease to exist for them.

But Shroedinger's Iraq is still very muchalive and there is plenty of objective evidence to document that probability as well--we just don't get to see or hear about it in the MSM reports.

Iraqis may yet fail in their efforts to bring forth a country conceived in liberty and dedicated to justice for all; but those hopes are far from dead; and, as Krauthammer acutely observes, the odds appear to be swinging in the other direction--or are at least as probable as the doomsayers' predictions.

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