But the American ideologues who saw themselves as liberators needed an evil worthy of their lofty self image. To them the Baath party was a Sunni Nazi party that ruled Shiite Jews. They would de-Baathify just as their role models had de-Nazified. Sunnis were suspect of loyalty to the former regime and as a result the American military adopted a more aggressive posture in majority Sunni areas, resulting in clashes in places like Falluja that indeed led to the formation of a powerful popular resistance. Sunnis were weakened by the fact that Saddam, a Sunni himself, from attaining too much popularity or power, to avoid rivals.Probably a little exaggerated, but the point is that America designed its war as a sectarian war, a war that unwittingly and needlessly entrenched dangerous sectarian modes of thinking in the collective Iraqi consciousness [a good example is me, just trace the development of my sectarian awareness on this blog] while this sectarian divide has a long and turbulent history ; it needn't necessarily come to all this blood : Christians have persecuted Jews too, you know? America could have kept the bureaucracy and started nation-building from there, don't get me wrong, the problems of Iraq are all purely Iraqi problems, but I would never forget the words of the first US soldier I met: "Hey man, are you Sunni or Shi'i?", that was the first time I was asked this question. it is the arrogant American administration's neglect of the complex realities regarding post-Saddam Iraq that is still the first thing that must be blamed for all the bad things happening in Iraq.
That first month of Occupation there was enormous hope, but the looting created an atmosphere of pervasive lawlessness from which Iraq never recovered. The entire state infrastructure was destroyed and there were no security forces, Iraqi or American, to give people a sense of safety. They quickly turned to inchoate militias being formed, often along religious, tribal and ethnic lines.
Those same militias dominate Iraq today. This would have happened anywhere. If you removed the government in New York City, where I am from, and removed the police, and allowed for the state infrastructure to be looted and then you dismissed the state bureaucracy you would see the same thing happen. Soon Jewish gangs would fight Puerto Rican gangs and Haitan gangs would fight Albanian gangs.
The most powerful militias belong to Shiites who rallied around populist symbols such as Muqtada al Sadr. The Americans then fired the entire state bureaucracy, and for some Shiite leaders, this was an opportunity to seize control. While many Sunni clerical and tribal leaders chose to boycott the occupation and its institutions, many of their Shiite counterparts made a devil’s bargain and collaborated. The Americans maintained their sectarian approach, unaware that they were alienating a large part of Iraqi society and pitting one group against the other. Most of the armed resistance to the occupation was dominated by Sunnis, who boycotted the first elections, effectively voting themselves out of Iraqi politics. Radical Sunni militants began to attack Shiites in revenge or to provoke a civil war and disrupt the American project. Sectarian fundamentalist Shiite parties dominated the government and security forces and punished Sunnis en masse. By 2005 the civil war started. Later that year the Americans realized they had to bring Sunnis into the fold, but it was too late, the Shiites in power saw no reason to share it.
Full testimony here.