Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Left Field Political Prediction 05-2 

I know my first prediction hasn't borne full fruit yet, but I'm in the mood to offer another. We'll go global for this one and say:
Shortly after the trial and prosecution of Saddam (or perhaps in the run-up) a representative of the Ba'ath party in Iraq will openly denounce the former regime and formally dissolve the party, absolving any claim to the government.
We've seen several hints that the Ba'athist hold outs are in negotiations with the Coalition. We've also seen U.S. military spokesmen refer to "insurgents and terrorists," clearly separating them into distinct categories. While I haven't checked the numbers, it also seems that military-style attacks targeting Coalition soldiers have been on the decline. Add in the open talk among Sunnis about now wanting to be a part of the new Iraqi government and it's clear change is in the air. And it's a good thing.

I always felt the U.S. made a mistake when they took Baghdad and noone was home. They should have taken the most senior government official they could find and held a formal surrender ceremony. I think this is a central part of the reported negotiations happening now, because once the Ba'athists formally surrender/quit it removes the air of legitimacy from "insurgent" activities, leaving just criminals, thugs and terrorists on the bad side. And everyone can agree to wiping those elements from the face of the earth. Smart Ba'athists realize their future lies not in Saddam but in getting as big a piece of the political pie as they can and right now is the time to be grabbing. Some sort of formal recognition of an end to hostilities allows them to come out of their holes and participate. They know there is no future in continuing the insurgency, they just have to agree to the way out.

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