A Response to a Reader

The following was posted over at Billmon’s blog. You can see it, and the rest of the comment thread, under “Humanitarian Case for War in Iraq”. It’s a good article, and I highly recommend it, as a viewpoint on what’s going on–one that I don’t particularly agree with, but that’s just me. Your mileage may vary. Shirin is one of the commenters over there.

Shirin,

Just out of curiosity, from where do you derive your expertise? I see that you have a Kurdish name, so I presume that you’re from Iraq or have relatives there.

You’re also on point regarding reconstruction efforts. If I was running things, I’d have had a free-for-all in terms of contracts. There’s no reason why Iraqis couldn’t do as good a job or better than American firms, for the reasons you’ve stated. But that’s not what happened.

Concerning detainees–we’re adhering to the Geneva Conventions. What interests me, however, is how it is that you know, with such certainty, that they are innocent. That’s an extraordinary claim, requiring extraordinary evidence. I mean, one of the detainees we caught was in the process of emplacing an IED–and claimed he was trying to fish, in the shoulder of a road next to a forest. Was he innocent?

Knowing better? Well, I can’t imagine that we’ll do worse than Saddam Hussein. Let’s review: Iraq was a kingdom from 1920 until 1958, when the last king, Faisal II, was overthrown.

He was replaced by Abd-el Karim Qassim, who governed from 1958 until 1963, when he was assassinated (probably with CIA complicity, but we’ll never know for sure, because Qassim was leaning towards the USSR). The Ba’ath Party, that apotheosis of freedom and democracy, then took over for a few months, until it was removed in another coup.

That regime then ruled until 1968, when the Ba’ath Party took over. Saddam was the power behind the throne, until 1979, when he decided to take over his own self.

It bears reminding that at no time have the majority of the Iraqi people chosen their leaders, in a free and open election. All those leaders I mentioned came to power through a process that, at best, was undemocratic, and at worst, was soaked in the blood of innocents. True innocents, unlike the majority of the guys we’re holding prisoner, who read like a who’s who of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, the Special Security Organisation, and other Iraqi secret police agencies.

But, what the heck, they’re Iraqi, so they must be better than GIs from Dubuque, Iowa–whom, as we all know, are masters in the black arts of torture and sadism.

Yeah, I’d say what we’re providing is a step in the right direction. Looking into a mass grave will do that to you.

And that bit about the Kurds, Shi’ites, and Sunnis getting along? In your dreams. They don’t. They really don’t. It would be wonderful if they did, but you can blame–guess who?–Saddam and his Ba’ath Party cronies for sowing a lot of that dissension. And if it wasn’t Saddam, then it was the military regime that held power before them. Enmity between Kurds, Shi’as, and Sunnis goes way back in Iraq. Don’t believe me? Read the literature. I did, before coming over.

As for the Shi’ites, Sunnis, and Kurds peacefully hashing things out, Original Dads in Philly style…sorry, but I don’t see it happening. There’s too much bad blood under the bridge, and the fact that you insist otherwise is proof that you’re out of touch with the ground truth.

I’m under no illusions that the Iraqis like us. They don’t. That’s something that comes across every time I speak with them, in their houses, in the markets, and on the streets. If they liked us, trust me, things would be going a lot smoother.

Look, I don’t want to be in Iraq. There’s nothing more that I want than to be back home, Stateside, watching the Super Bowl, and worrying about what me and my fiancee are going to do next Friday.

But I’m here, thanks to my enlightened President {sarcasm}, and so I might as well make the best of it.

The least that you could do is to provide me with moral support, and help to make the occupation better than it is.

But, I know, it’s a lot easier to take the morally superior ground and toss brickbats, and talk about how much better a job the UN would do–the organization whose leader, Kofi Annan, stood idly by as Rwanda descended into a nightmare that Iraq can only conceive in its darkest dreams.

I look forward, respectfully, to your next scorching response.

note: cross-posted at Billmon

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One response to “A Response to a Reader

  1. I very much wish you had made it clearer that the item you crossposted was written by a commenter, NOT by me (Billmon). The thrust of my original post, “The Humanitarian Case for War in Iraq” is quite different. I don’t much appreciate being lumped among the neo-colonialists, even if it only due to a lack of clarity on your part.