From Missing Links
In reading about Iraq, you need to keep two things separate. One is to understand the writer’s preferred configuration for a resulting Iraqi government, and to make the necessary adjustments in what he has to say. Saudi writers, generally speaking, think of any Shiite-dominated government as pro-Iranian and therefore as to some degree an enemy. By contrast, to take one example, Juan Cole thinks a SCIRI/Kurd government is the natural result, and consequently he has had the tendency to associate the Iraqi Sunni population with terrorists and Baathists (adding lately some concessions to the Sunnis). These are natural human attitudes (for those who take a sectarian approach, that is), but when reading what these people have to say, it is important to see what other points or attitudes they are giving voice to, apart from advocacy for one side or the other.
This is particularly important now, because with the new Bush plan, there is starting to be a shift in Arab perceptions of what the United States is up to in Iraq, and this shift has nothing to do with which side you are on. It has to do with the nature of the American aims and objectives in and of themselves. Up to now, one of the prevailing views has been that America has been manipulating the sectarian forces in Iraq to weaken the Iraqi state and keep all sides off balance, against the backdrop of the US military presence. All-out attacks on Falluja and other places were seen as strategic anomalies in what was essentially a divide-and-conquer political strategy. This is where the new Bush plan comes in.
Under the new Bush plan, the dominant picture for some Arab commentators is no longer to see the US as essentially involved in a divide-and-conquer political scheme. Rather, the picture is now of a US plan is military domination of an entire population plain and simple, without regard to local politics. It is a horse of a different color, and people in all of the otherwise-competing camps are coming to see it that way.
Read the rest of it here.