It has been fascinating to watch the reevaluation of the virtues of more "organic," tribal society by those supporters of the war who not so many years ago believed that the Iraqis were not motivated by loyalty to "religion or tribe or whatever," but yearned to share in the bounty of modern alienation and freedom. Indeed, a few years ago the suggestion that Iraqis' tribal and sectarian loyalties would come to the fore, especially in a time of crisis, was met with disdain and not-so-veiled hints that the observer was a racist and a cultural relativist at the same time.
Organicity is the new watchword for those who generally find the idea of organic ties troubling, if not hateful, but who now seem to understand that the "surge" has failed politically and that Iraq is dissolving into its constituent elements. How to put a good spin on this? It must time to rediscover one's inner romantic conservative! The bonds of organic communities, which normally strike these pundits as vaguely fascist if they are celebrated by Europeans or Americans, have now allegedly come to the rescue of the war effort. The prophets of the new modern Iraq, Iraq-as-the-model, Iraq-as-democracy, the transformational beacon to the region, have resigned themselves to Iraq's transformation into a land of warring tribes, a society as far removed from their progressive values as can be imagined. Every assumption and expectation of the progressive globalists, to borrow a term from Mr. Brooks, has been proven wrong in Iraq. Their experiment in social engineering through conquest has failed. The arguments of cultural conservatives who opposed the venture have held up fairly well, which causes us to ask the question: what was any of it for? Have all these Americans and Iraqis perished so that Iraqis could fully identify themselves with their most fundamental and natural group loyalties?
The educated professional classes of Iraq have largely fled, and those few who remain will soon follow. Let us be very clear: where Iraq once had the social capital and the potential to very gradually make progress towards some of the goals espoused by the invasion's backers, the war has eliminated almost all of this. Where once there was mostly (imposed) intercommunal peace, some measure of secularism and modernisation and internal order, there is now tribal and sectarian vendetta and bloodletting on a large scale. And even now they call it progress! Even now they have the gall to say that the war has accomplished something, when by their own standards it has failed essentially every test that matters.
Mind you, these were some of the same people who insisted that we had to intervene in Bosnia, because they had no desire for an "organically" evolved separation of ethnic groups through armed conflict. Back then, the partition of Bosnia was an unthinkable heresy, mainly becaue the "wrong" kinds of people were winning the war. Now all that matters in Iraq is that the war is seen as a success, even if it has resulted in creating the exact opposite of everything it was supposed to create.