Jon Henke at QandO says “a Realpolitik ‘strongman’ policy to stabilize Iraq [is] probably the best available option left.” Only PhoenixPat among his commenters protested that this policy effectively throws the current, elected, constitutional Iraqi government overboard. Jon responds:
You think the Iraqi Constitution “must be honored or abandoned”. But by whom?
The U.S. clearly must honor it. It’s certainly not our business to decide the government structures we sponsored suddenly aren’t up to the job. In the comments, Jon says that the Iraqi government today is a sham on par with the Palestinian apparatus – completely co-opted by “the parties” and their paramilitary arms. I think this is far from clear. For a start, let’s see what happens to the level of random violence if we tighten the seals on the Syrian and Iranian borders. (PhoenixPat gave a more thorough rebuttal.)
What are the defining or minimum features of the “best available faction?” For discussion, I submit that:
The single necessary and sufficient feature of an acceptable “strong leader” for Iraq is that it leaves office peacefully and on schedule, in accordance with a constitutional re-election cycle.
Restoring order and confidence in an Iraqi government (it seems to me) is necessary but not sufficient. Taking the form of a central (not federal) government doesn’t seem necessary. I suppose that a Sunni oligopoly could observe constitutional forms while oppressing the Shia and Kurds, but doubt it given the size and strength of those minorities.
Related: In Defense of Idealism