On this Memorial Day

In 1915, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Army had just witnessed the death of a friend. He wrote a poem that has become a symbol not only of the “Great War” as World War I was known, but also is a symbol of remembrance of those we lose in war. “In Flanders Fields” brought us the Poppy as a symbol of remembrance we use on days like Memorial Day to honor all men and women who go into harms way for their country, for those who don’t return.

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Iraq Solution

One only needs to turn on the news these days and hear about the chaos and sectarian strife happening in Iraq. From bombings, abductions, to outright killings, it seems that Iraq is in a state of civil war. Not to mention US troops still being killed on a daily basis. And even as President Bush and others still deny it, Iraq is one of the most unstable countries today .

On one of the e-mail discussion lists I participate, in the run up to the invasion in 2003, I had a heated debated with a pro-Bush person on the merits of invading Iraq and removing Saddam. At the time I mentioned that the British ran into a mess of trouble during their attempts to force their ideas of civics on Iraq after World War I when they had a mandate. I told my opponent that if the US invaded it would be another Vietnam and the US would muck it up. If the guy was still on the list (he was kicked off after accusing me and others of being traitors because we refused to support President Bush) I would be pleased to post the following note:

I told you so.

The reason the US will never “win” is the same reason the British never “won” back in the 1920’s. Iraq was forced together into a country. It was made up of different clans who hated each other and still do. Most are Muslim but act more like Catholic and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Each claims the other are heretics. Then you have the Kurds in the north who are as different as night and day to the Sunnis and Shiites.

There is a good overview of the British occupation of Iraq in 1917 that gives some uncanny parallels to the US invasion in 2003. Here is quote:

Within six months, Britain was fighting a military insurrection in Iraq and David Lloyd George, the prime minister, was facing calls for a military withdrawal. “Is it not for the benefit of the people of that country that it should be governed so as to enable them to develop this land which has been withered and shrivelled up by oppression? What would happen if we withdrew?” Lloyd George would not abandon Iraq to “anarchy and confusion”. By this stage, British officials in Baghdad were blaming the violence on “local political agitation, originated outside Iraq”, suggesting that Syria might be involved.

Come again? Could history repeat itself so perfectly? For Lloyd George’s “anarchy”, read any statement from the American occupation power warning of “civil war” in the event of a Western withdrawal. For Syria – well, read Syria.

Iraq, 1917

So what is the solution?

The only real solution is to let Iraq devolve into clan areas. That’s right. Iraq, as a country, should go away and be replaced with the areas that existed prior to World War I. Each area would be controlled by either the Kurds, the Sunnis, or the Shiites.

They each want to control Iraq so if you remove the country then you take away their reason for violence.