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This maddening interview with Condoleeza Rice moved me to share here what was first made clear to me by a colleague last January. I forget who it was that he heard it from, but it was an international relations scholar.

The basic idea, however, doesn't take a doctorate (how the hell did Rice ever earn one?) to understand. The basic idea is simple and puts everything about Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, and the Middle East into perspective.

Join me below the fold for clarity of perspective on the Mess-o-potamia and to use the poll to pick your poison.

It's this simple: there are three things we seek, but we cannot have all three because they are incompatible with one another.

We seek an Iraqi regime (and other regimes in the Middle East) that is:

1) Democratic
2) Stable
3) Friendly to U.S. interests.

These three characteristics are fundamentally at odds with one another in today's real Iraq and Arab world.

Think about it:
Democratic. A truly democratic Iraq would be friendly to Iran, unfriendly to the U.S., Shia dominated. It would also be unstable. In fact, the recent acceleration of civil war conditions and sectarian violence have accompanied the latest transition to a more democratic form of governance.

Stable. Stability is relative, especially in the Middle East and Gulf region. But stability requires friendly neighbors. The more friendly Iraq is with its most threatening neighbor, Iran, the less friendly it will be with the United States. And stability requires anti-democratic action in Iraq. The stability of Kurdistan, for instance, is purchased by an anti-majoritarian deal brokered with oil and guns.

Friendly to U.S. interests. Saudi Arabia is (to a degree). To be pro-U.S. a regime must control its anti-American population in non-democratic ways. But undemocratic, U.S. friendly regimes in the Middle East are also unstable. The Saudi royals are hanging on, but their grip is tenuous.

I invite commenters to try using this simple, but powerful, perspective:
Can we have two out of three? If so, which combination of two out of three is most realistic?

But first, use the poll to pick your poison.

Originally posted to demondeac on Fri Aug 04, 2006 at 02:18 PM PDT.

Poll

If Iraq can only be one of the following, which should the U.S. pursue?

85%12 votes
7%1 votes
7%1 votes

| 14 votes | Vote | Results

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