You can read Charles Krauthammer’s whole commentary to get the context, but he essential begins his column by using the elections that happened during the US Civil War and its immediate aftermath to defend elections in Iraq that may leave out parts of the country.
To call this an “apples and oranges” comparison would be putting it mildly. If England or France had over 100,000 troops in this country and was fighting on the side of the North or the South, Krauthammer might have an argument. But since that isn’t what happened, it’s merely a bad excuse for the disenfranchisement of “barely 20 percent” of Iraqi citizens.
The one point he makes in his column that I agree with is that a civil war is already happening in Iraq. Which is why it seems senseless to me for him to say this:
If Iraq’s Sunni Arabs–barely 20 percent of the population–decide they cannot abide giving up their 80 years of minority rule, ending with 30 years of Saddam Hussein’s atrocious tyranny, then tough luck. They forfeit their chance to shape and participate in the new Iraq.
This idea that Iraq will go on without the Sunnis if they don’t lay down their arms and vote completely ignores the nature of the violence that has been taking place. In the same section of the newspaper is an article about candidates for this election in Iraq being murdered. We shouldn’t forget how quickly the violence spread to other parts of Iraq after the Fallujah offensive either.
What seems to be shaping up is another Beirut situation–US troops in the middle of a civil war. It won’t turn out any better now than it did then.