Many fearful of Iraq's future

By Ed Arnow
For the Contra Costa Times
Posted: 01/04/2012 02:25:53 PM PST
Updated: 01/04/2012 02:25:54 PM PST

Our troops are out of Iraq but the fighting is far from ended. Most signs indicate that Iraq can't get its act together. The internal hatreds haven't changed. The same religious sects and tribes are still at each other's throats. There's no sign the violence will let up. Add runaway corruption and the continuing battle for the country's oil money.
It may be hard to admit but Iraq managed OK under Saddam Hussein's iron-fisted controls. Is a new dictatorship a coming attraction? Folks in the East County, interviewed at random, are fearful of what's to come. That includes a possible return by American troops to secure the peace.
Mary Westberry of Oakley minced no words. "I see a bloodbath civil war coming. The Iraqis aren't prepared to govern themselves or even get along with each other," she said. "I'm fearful that we may have to go back simply to stop the genocide. Our problems in the Middle East never seem to end."
Brentwood's Craig Finley agreed. "Civil War is a strong possibility," he said. "The Iraqis aren't ready to take control. The government leadership is weak. Their military isn't strong enough to cope with what's coming. Turmoil of some sort is inevitable and I expect we'll be back in Iraq within a couple of years."
Alan Mancano of Antioch predicts we'll see a lot of Iraq headlines this year. "Civil war is most likely with Iraqis fighting each other over different religious rites," he said. "We probably will have to

get back in it with military force. But it may be a good thing in the long run. America may need a war to get out of this recession."
Chris Henry of Oakley has reservations about America going back into Iraq if civil war should break out. "We shouldn't do it by ourselves. If force is necessary, the U.N. should be the policeman," he said. "Things now are happening that easily could ignite a civil war. But, with the battle for power still going on, it's much too early to predict how it will be resolved."
"Iraq is a country divided by social and religious hatreds and I see a dictator emerging to control it," said Antioch's Edgar Roach. "The Sunnis and the Shiites are jockeying for power and are willing to fight. The end result will be Iraq going back to what it was before we went in, a strong-arm dictatorship. It's hard to understand the tremendous loss of lives for no reason."
Suzanne Bubenicek of Oakley knows someone just back from Iraq. "I gather that the military feeling is that things will stay relatively quiet for a while, maybe as long as five or 10 years," she said. "At least for now we're in the background and I don't see them fighting each other. But, if they do we could get involved again."
"We got out too soon. It was a political move by Obama," said Pat Fisher of Antioch. "Sure, I'm glad the guys have come home. But I'm sad because there is no rational reason for our leaving. We didn't complete the mission. There very well could be an outbreak of serious violence in 2012."
Robert McDonnell of Antioch sees it this way. "Civil war is likely but the terrorists will wind up taking over. It's more than just Iraq. The war will spread. It's a sad commentary on the sacrifices we have had to make. The price was too great. The Iraq War was insanity."