Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Let’s Blame The Iraqi’s

There is a growing chorus here in the states to blame the Iraqi’s for the strife and suffering that they are now experiencing as a result of the invasion and subsequent occupation. While this attitude is becoming politically popular, it undermines the real problems that were uncovered by the invasion. It also belies the terrible job that was done with post invasion planning and reconstruction.

I have stated previously that the military phase of this adventure ended with the taking of Baghdad. At that point it became a political and a logistical problem. How best to relieve the human suffering that was indeed to come should have been foremost, instead what was foremost was the “neoconservative agenda”. How to help the Iraqi’s to overcome the physical and emotional scars of repression in a constructive way should have been the mission. Let’s face it, the majority of people in Iraq have been raised under the tyranny of a dictatorship, to expect them to become young George Washington’s and Thomas Jefferson’s overnight was irresponsible and overly optimistic. It was unrealistic to believe that after years of abuse that they would take the high road and let bygones be bygones. This goes against human nature and human history.

You have two majority groups who have been shut out of the political, social, and economic fabric of a country for decades. When given the opportunity to exact some retribution would anyone think they wouldn’t? To believe this is to know nothing about the region or its customs. In societies that have experienced these types of trauma there is always a need for healing, a national reconciliation and recognition of the tragedies of the past. Rather than assist the Iraqis in their efforts to accomplish this we were pursuing our own agenda. It was just assumed that once we “liberated” them they would sign on to our goals and agenda. Well, time has shown that nothing could be further from the truth. Not only have they not accepted our agenda, they have gone so far as to have an agenda of their own. How dare they?

The violence must and should end and the outcome of this must be completed by the Iraqis. Being responsible for the future and taking blame for the past are two distinct things. It is like blaming the rape victim for being raped, because they haven’t healed as fast as we think they should. Blaming the victim is always easy; it removes any responsibility for our actions and feelings. It makes us feel safe. The victim obviously did something to cause the misfortune, so I am safe so long as I don’t do what they did. Unfortunately, life is not as simple as a Karl Rove sound bite and sometimes bad things happen to good people.

All the troops in China are not going to fix Iraq. What Iraq needs is the international community and that means the UN and the Arab League. Neither of these institutions can bring their power to bear until we leave. It is time for us to acknowledge the fact we don’t have the expertise for nation building. The last time we did any nation building it was 60 years ago and I don’t think we have anyone left around who remembers how to do it, definitely not in this administration.

Thanks to our constant bombing and sanctions the infrastructure in Iraq was already demolished prior to the invasion. With the invasion, we come in and destroy what little bit of social fabric they were left clinging to. We terminated their legal, political, and security systems without any thought as to what we were going to replace them with. Instead of securing the people, we secured the oil. The Iraqis with the help of the international community have to learn to trust each other and their government to get things done. Right now that government is failing them as a nation and must learn to overcome sectarian interests for national interests. Are we any different, consider the current regime in Washington. Have they allowed sectarian interest to cloud what is best for America? We have had a few centuries to practice and we still need work, so all those thinking that after decades of corruption, torture, repression that the Iraqis are just going to start espousing liberty or death are delusional. And as that delusion comes crashing down around them there has to be a scapegoat.

Unfortunately, there are some hard days ahead for the Iraqi people. Starting a country from scratch with three different factions, each with their own agendas is a monumental task. This is their legacy to write for their children and generations to come. Despite our best efforts, we cannot control the pace or the outcome. Conflicts in the Middle East have their own timetables; some have even lasted a thousand years. The deep seated animosity and mistrust between countrymen will take years to overcome and will come with a price; the tree of liberty and all that.

Are the Iraqis responsible for their country? Yes, but are they guilty for what it has become?

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