What went wrong in Iraq? Video. Panel with Rashid Khalidi, Richard Haass, Meghan O’Sullivan, and Peter Bergen. Fareed Zakaria GPS, January 10, 2014. Transcript.
Here’s a startling statistic: more than 8,000 Iraqis were killed in violent attacks in 2013. That makes it the second most violent country in the world, after its neighbor Syria.
Rashid, when you look at all this turmoil brewing in the Middle East, what do
you see as the cause?
RASHID KHALIDI, AUTHOR, PROFESSOR OF MODERN ARAB STUDIES, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, there are many causes, but one cause is that you have some sectarian issues that are working themselves out.
Another cause is a whole generation or so of American policies that I think exacerbated things.
A third cause is American alliances with countries that have their own dogs in some of these fights, Saudi Arabia, Israel, others.
Each of these, I think, exacerbates a set of problems.
ZAKARIA: How do you see it, Richard.
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: A big part of the cause, it comes from within Middle East itself. These are societies that have never really dealt with – successfully with modernity.
You’ve never had a clear divide between the religious and the secular. People confuse democracy and majoritarianism. There's not a real sense of minority rights or places in these societies. So all sorts of divides also between governments and individuals.
So those issues have never been sort out. It’s, in some ways, the least successful part of the world. And, then, in many ways, I agree, American foreign policy has exacerbated things by removing centers of authority, in many cases, unattractive, but still . . .
HAASS: Centers of authority and not doing things that were needed to put something better or at least enduring in its place.
So we say Assad must go, put pressure on him, but then virtually nothing happens to see that he goes, much less to replace him with something better.
Gadhafi must go, then what? No boots on the ground.
HAASS: I’m not saying we should have done boots on the ground, but before the United States starts advocating or pushing for regime change, be it Iraq or Libya or Syria, we need to be sure that we have something we think that's better to go in its place and we are prepared to do the expensive process of putting there.
If not, we had better start thinking twice before we make regime change the default option for American foreign policy.