Like a lot of people I'm increasingly fearful about what's happening in Iraq. No matter how I look at it I can't see a happy outcome to the situation, irrespective of how justified the original invasion may, or may not, have been.
The fundamental problem it seems to me is that we are trying to impose a liberal democracy on a country which is deeply divided upon religious/ethnic grounds. And democracy depends entirely upon the willingness of the minority to be governed by the majority. "The tyranny of the majority" as it has been called. Up to now, democracy has worked fairly well in many Western countries because most people are either centre right or centre left. The differences aren't so great, nor are they unduly threatening.
Where there are differences, say in Northern Ireland for example, democracy becomes a lot more problematic. The minority is reluctant to be governed by what is perceived to be a hostile majority. Often with good reason. You have to have an extraordinarily positive take on human nature to trust your wellbeing to someone whose views are diametrically opposed to your own.
The split in Iraq is roughly 60% Shiite Muslim and 35% Sunni Muslim. Christians and others make up the balance. They were divided before the invasion, of course, but a brutal dictatorship held the country together. Militants on both sides, as well as the insurgents, are currently fomenting sectarian violence and driving the communities even further apart.
So what's the answer? I don't know, but I fear it isn't democracy, at least not the kind of liberal democracy we espouse in the West. Maybe partition is the answer. Maybe the country will break up. Both alternatives are horrendous to contemplate. You can just imagine the strife and the bloodshed as borders are redrawn and people "relocated". There don't appear to be any easy answers to this sorry saga. Even worse, it seems to me that we in the West are preparing the way for an orderly - or disorderly - retreat. Leaving the Iraqi people to fight it out, to clear up the mess we have created.
Meanwhile the carnage - mostly innocent victims - continues. No wonder I get depressed.