Hugh Fitzgerald in his most recent Iconoclast post notes:
"It is not good that the Americans, from Crocker on down and up, appear to be constantly surprised, constantly disappointed, by Arab and Muslim attitudes, inside and outside Iraq, when there is nothing to be surprised or disappointed about. The Sunni regimes have a different interest from that of the Americans: they wish to keep the Americans in Iraq as long as possible, whatever the toll it takes on those Americans, and for several reasons.
First, as long as the Americans are there, the Shi'a cannot completely solidify their hold on Baghdad, historically the first city of Islam. Things remain, or seem to remain, still up in the air, as long as the foreign Infidels are present.
Second, once the Americans leave, the Sunnis of western and northwestern Iraq will be confronted with the Shi'a ascendancy in Baghdad, and realize that the Shi'a have no intention of honoring any promises made about their treatment, their equitable sharing in oil revenues for example, that may have been made, as part of Maliki's miching mallecho, to the ever-trusting Americans.
Third, it will now be the direct responsiblity of the Arab Sunni regimes to help their co-religionists in Iraq, and that costs money, and men, and war materiel. It was so much more pleasant to see the Americans stuck in Iraq, trying to stick up for the Sunnis, trying to modify the behavior of the new Shi'a rulers, in an attempt to "unify" the country. "
The Country. But is there really a "country" there, and I mean in the Western sense--(and Fitzgerald has made this very point in other contexts)--or is Iraq simply the "land of the two rivers"-- part of the formless, ubiquitous, globe-aggrandizing ummah? If it is axiomatic that Departments of State are designed to deal with states, then who in the government deals with nations, in the classical sense, other than the B.I.A.?
Certainly the ummah considers itself a nation, yet not a state. For the ummah to be a state would require a caliph, Allah's vicegerent on earth, and that is not at hand. Perhaps the Department of State would prefer, or would be better equiped to deal with a caliph, so as to better formalize our status with respect to the muslim world. Now there would be a road map and a road they could follow, trudging along in the footsteps of the ancients on their way to an ancient destination. Then we might see the old battles replayed all over again, to the same scripts as of old. Do you suppose the State Department would get it then?
You can read all of Mr. Fitzgerald's piece here.