The Post-Civil War South and Iraq’s reconstruction:
The Husband, who is a scientist by training and experience, is also a Civil War historian who in his spare time has read nearly every book published for the past 40 years on the subject of War Between the States.
The Husband and I were discussing Iraq the other day and he raised a most interesting analogy. He wrote down his points, and I’m now posting them:
- The Baathist-Saddam regime was the mechanism by which Sunni Iraqis (20% of the population) subjugated the non-Sunni Iraqis.
- Sunnis held all the positions of power
- There were two pay/reward scales for work done for the regime: A higher one for Sunnis, and a lower one for non-Sunnis.
There are a lot of similarities between the situation under the Baath-Saddam regime and the American South in the pre-Civil Rights era:
- Whites held all the positions of power. The police were white.
- There were separate pay/reward scales for whites and for blacks.
- The primary job of the police was to “keep blacks in their place”, just as Saddam’s police was to keep non-Sunnis in theirs.
- Whites placed great importance on their status relative to blacks, and were willing to make great sacrifices to keep it:
25% of all white Southern males of military age died in the Civil War.
The Civil War was followed by an insurgency (in the form of a guerilla war) by the KKK that continued until Union troops were withdrawn in 1880.
The primary victims of the KKK were blacks, not Union troops, just as in Iraq far more non-Sunni Iraqis have been killed than US troops.
The conclusion The Husband draws from the American experience is that, once the US made equal rights a goal, a long bloody conflict was inevitable. The claim by the anti-war movement that the administration’s mistakes caused or fanned the Sunni insurgency are false – unless you consider granting equal rights to non-Iraqis a mistake. And it’s analogous to claiming that the KKK insurgency after the Civil War was the fault of the Republican administrations of that time. The “mistake” made by those Republicans was trying to give equal rights to blacks.
- America’s experience with the KKK shows that anti-civil rights insurgencies can continue for a long time, can succeed, and are very difficult to defeat.
Despite this, The Husband is optimistic that we are succeeding in Iraq: Why?
- Sunni Iraqis say we are succeeding
- Almost all Sunni political leaders are urging their followers to participate in the elections and vote against the draft constitution
- If they thought the insurgency was winning, they’d consider the election irrelevant
- Given the strong tendency to think one’s side is winning, the fact that the Sunnis are being urged to vote against the constitution is very significant
- We are arming and training a non-Sunni army.
- The KKK won their fight against blacks’ rights when Union troops were removed from the South. However, the result would have been different if the Union had armed and trained an army of blacks to defend their rights and stayed in the South.