Ambassador Crocker delivered the day's real news with his description of Iraq's slowly simmering political development. In his testimony, Ambassador Crocker revealed that federalism, or decentralized governance, is a concept now beginning to find favor with Iraq's Sunni-Arabs. In spite of passing a constitution by referendum in 2005, Iraqi society still has not achieved a consensus on how to govern itself. But a growing acceptance of a decentralized Iraq by the Sunni-Arabs, a previously unimaginable thought, offers a glimmer of hope for a political settlement to the war.The local Political Theater makes sense from a Historical Perspective too. It has been local Sheiks who have historically been the Political Leaders in Iraq. If the Iraqi people can form a decentralized Democracy, that's good news. It won't be exactly like ours, but it is Democracy.
The switch by the Anbar tribes to the American side began before President Bush announced the surge strategy and was to some extent an "accidental victory." Al Qaeda's ruthless incompetence combined with American persistence to produce something positive for President Bush to tout last week.A Troop draw-down is inevitable, at least to the pre-surge levels because we don't have the manpower to maintain 170,000 Troops without extending the Troops beyond 15 months. But, General Petraeus needs to continue to secure Iraq so the Political Solution can develop. Whether it be a centralized or decentralized Government makes no difference and should be the Iraqi decision by way of the Vote.
But the "Anbar Awakening" tribal movement has created a new concept for Iraq's Sunni-Arabs to consider, namely the advantages of federalism and political decentralization.
Decentralized governance offers a way for a political settlement in Iraq. But in order for this hopeful solution to work, both the Americans and Iraqis will have to make some significant changes to their current policies. The Bush administration (and its successor) will have to de-emphasize the goal of a unified Iraq under a strong central government. It would also have to avert its eyes as some population transfers (a.k.a. "ethnic cleansing") around the Baghdad area occurred.There are risks to this policy, however. In many respects, decentralized Iraq Government is putting all the eggs in one basket.
For their part, the Iraqis would have to redesign their method of government finance. And they would have to accept an army recruited, trained, and commanded on a regional basis.
Such a solution obviously carries many risks. Decentralized governance may lead to a way for Iraqis to live in something like harmony. Or it may instead provide a basis to more effectively organize for renewed warfare.The real test will come next March when General Petraeus will have to decide how the Troops will be deployed. That's when the proverbial crap hits the fan if the situation on the ground will not allow a troop reduction.