Contrary to what most Americans believe, the United States is in deep trouble in Iraq, and its policies are adrift. Especially ominous are problems surrounding the plan for June 30 elections. If direct elections are held, the Shi‘ites, with 60 percent of the population, will prevail. If their representation is watered down by resort to closed caucuses, as the U.S. wants, the Shi‘ites will turn to violence. Either way, tensions among all religious and ethnic factions are mounting. Iraq is edging closer to a civil war, and chaos could engulf the entire region.
Whether the UN can help to stabilize the situation remains unclear. Much depends on how much real independence and power it is granted.