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Professor ved Stanford University, James D. Fearon, er spesialist på borgerkriger. Han har studert 54 konflikter. I høst var han innkalt av Kongressen:»by any reasonable definition, Iraq is in the midst of a civil war.»

Borgerkriger har noen helt spesielle særtrekk: de ødelegger ofte samfunnet. Tilliten mellom menneskene forsvinner. I Bosnia er det ikke krig, men heller ikke den fred som gir håp og optimisme.

Scholars and diplomats who have closely studied civil wars describe them almost as forces of nature, grinding on until the parties exhaust themselves, shredding bonds that cannot be stitched back together even long years after the killing stops. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United Nations and other international actors have spent a decade trying to undo the psychic as well as the physical destruction of four years of intramural mayhem. There’s not a great deal to show for it. David Harland, the head of a small policy team inside the U.N. peacekeeping department, points out that «on the eve of the war, Sarajevo was 40 percent Muslim and 60 percent everything else. Now it’s 90 percent Muslim, and of the remaining 10 percent, most are mixed marriages or the elderly. You can’t reverse ethnic cleansing.»

Når voldene først har nådd et visst nivå, er den vanskelig å stoppe. Det ser ut til at Irak har passert dette punktet.

Fearon testified that the 54 such conflicts he studied typically lasted more than 10 years and normally ended with decisive military victory rather than power-sharing agreements. History, he said, indicates that the current administration strategy «is highly unlikely to succeed, whether the U.S. stays in Iraq for six more months or six more years (or more).»

Det er en utrolig nedslående vurdering: Enten USA blir værende seks måneder eller seks år, vil amerikanerne neppe lykkes. Spørsmålet blir da om man skal bli værende for å redde liv.

100.000 mennesker i måneden flykter fra Irak. I tillegg kommer alle de internt fordrevne.

Irak ligner ikke på Bosnia, men Libanon. Partene ble ikke utmattet før de skjønte at ingen ville vinne.

I Irak er situasjonen annerledes. Saddam Husseins vold la et lokk på motsetningene, og samtidig skapte han nye: den blodige undertrykkelsen har skapt et hat som nå eksploderer. Det er ikke slik at amerikanerne har skapt dagens vold. Det er en kombinasjon av oppdemmet hat og den utenlandske jihadismen. Sunniene har funnet ut at de ikke kan stole på shiaene. Nå er det ikke lenger et spørsmål om å miste makten, men om å overleve. Mahdi-militsen gir dem hver dag bevis for at det er bedre å dø kjempende, enn bli torturert til døde.

Lebanon typifies the fundamentally sectarian or ethnic character of modern civil wars. In his recently published «War of the World,» the historian Niall Ferguson argues that the collapse of multiethnic empires in the late 19th and early 20th centuries gave free rein to rivalries that had been constrained by imperial power. Ferguson observes that many nation-states that emerged out of the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire, from Yugoslavia to Iraq, were able to contain those conflicts by ruthless repression. Centripetal energies often exploded once the dictator died or was toppled. Lacking, in most cases, any tradition of power sharing, such states prove «far too multiethnic to function as democracies,» Ferguson maintains. Minority groups are bound to conclude that they have more to gain by fighting than by submitting to the will of an unleashed majority. Ferguson, a onetime supporter of the Iraq war, has argued that «trying to get democracy in a rush in conditions of economic and political instability» is a formula for disaster.

Hva er resultatet når partene har brukt opp sine krefter? Da oppstår ikke demokrati, for tilliten er ødelagt. I stedet må en utenlandsk styrke inn for å sørge for sikkerhet og orden. Da er man temmelig langt fra det målet Bush drømte om. Det sitter langt inne å erkjenne denne situasjonen. Hva med resten av verden, skal den bare se på?

When the sectarian combatants finally do exhaust themselves, Iraq will need a great deal of outside help, though not the kind it has received so far. Civil wars liquidate the trust among parties that makes settlements possible; outsiders must act as guarantors and, usually, peacekeepers. And they have to be prepared to make a major commitment: NATO put 60,000 troops in Bosnia, with a population less than one-sixth that of Iraq, to police the Dayton Accords that ended the war. Today 1,900 soldiers from the European Union are sufficient to do the job. Croats, Serbs and Muslims have reached a wary standoff, which leads David Harland to posit a second world-weary hypothesis: «If you apply enough force, you can get people to live adjacent to one another.» That’s a long, long way from the trailblazing Middle Eastern democracy around which the Bush administration wove such glittering fantasies. Still, the Bosnians are not killing one another and don’t seem likely to start. And in today’s Iraq, that would be a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Iraq 2013

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