The Corner

So The Sunnis Now Want Our Protection?

The Sunnis are apparently furious at us for not protecting them against Shiite revenge attacks. Incredible. One of the crazy aspects of Iraq at the moment is that the Sunnis are trying to provoke a civil war that they can’t win. Now, I know most Sunnis probably don’t want a civil war, but they are the ones with the most power to crack down–through intelligence tips and moral suasion–on the fanatics in their midst who are fomenting the sectarian violence. I have long wondered if the Sunnis would ever clue into the fact that we are the strongest force in favor of just and competent government in Iraq, and if we leave prematurely, they are the ones who will pay the heaviest price. Maybe they will begin to get it now (there have also been encouraging signs noted by Jim Robbins). In fact, taking a very broad view, there should be a confluence of interests in Iraq–the Shiites should want to include the Sunnis in the government, since that could tamp down the violence and produce a stable government that they ultimately will control; the Sunnis should want to join the government, since it will given them a voice and continuing violence risks a civil war in which they will presumably get quashed; the Kurds should want the place not to blow up so they can keep working on establishing what eventually might become their independent state. Indeed, members of the leadership in the country have been amazingly responsible in their statements in recent days, but there is a chance that Iraq could still spin out of control. There wouldn’t be that risk if the human heart simply desired freedom, and if we didn’t have to worry about the pull of hatred, power, resentment, sectarian pride, and other things that exist in the real world, if not always in presidential speeches.

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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