Can you tell a Sunni from a Shia

So, this is not my primary area of interest, but war should have the ability to focus ones thinking, no?

Very good question posed by this Jeff Stein; one has to wonder why no one has ever asked President Bush this question. But the boundaries of this "global war on terror" have expanded so wildly, that this question is no longer enough.

One of the poster here has pointed out that Iran is a Persian country and there is a lengthy history of animosity between Persians and Arabs (who are the majority of Iraqi's of any religion) that goes back much longer than the recent war between these two nations.

But now the word "nation" has introduced another hole into which the GWOT (or here) has stumbled, as Persia (Iran) has a long and storied history (which makes the idea of "regime change" there seem somewhat like an even loftier pipe dream; on the other hand, Iraq is just a creation of the west - for us, by us, in classic "FuBu" style - and its purpose was to serve our interests. So Iraq (and Kuwait too) are not nations in the classic sense like an Italy or a France or an England; peopled by folks with a history a common identity and an interest to want to live in a political union. Iraq was created by the west (Britain) to provide us with steady access to the oil that lay underneath the sand; we cared not about democracy or anything else that might hinder the oil flow. We can debate whether we truly believe in a democratic Iraq today, but the model is imprecisely applied as Iraq was never a nation to begin with.

The southwestern boundary was a compromise with King al Saud; the southeastern boundary was truncated to create Kuwait - as a means to siphon of the oil (a classic divide and conquer move to prevent oil from being in the control of just one country - as well as to prevent easy access to the Persian Gulf for Iraq, placing a premium on the pipeline builders); the western boundary was rather haphazardly drawn adjacent to Jordan and Syrian; the norther boundary was drawn to divide up any potential future Kurdistan dreams, by dividing up the Kurdish population between Turkey, Iraq and Iran - the nation that boarders Iraq on the East and probably has the most realistic (natural?) boarder of any nation with Iraq.

So into Iraq - this cauldron of peoples and religions - comes the most uncurious George we have ever had as a president; Shia versus Sunni is the start of any questions that need to be asked - not the end.

Be a good question to ask before you start a war - regardless of the urgency or the imminence of the threat, as that is a good way to know if you are going after a single bee or stumbling into a hornet's nest.

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