Re-visiting My Blog Entry on the Beginning of the Iraq War, Entitled: Iraq (then and again)

[A Re-Entry from back then, on the occasion today of the conclusion of combat operations in Iraq, 8-18-2010]

On March 22, 2003, I listened to General Tommy Frank speak on C-SPAN. He said:

“Because of the courage and dedication of these heroes, the mission of Operation Iraqi Freedom will be achieved.”

Then General Tommy Frank stated these objectives of the war in Iraq:

  1. end Saddam’s regime;
  2. isolate and destroy weapons of mass destruction;
  3. drive out terrorism;
  4. collect intelligence related to terrorism;
  5. collect intelligence related to trafficking of weapons of mass destruction;
  6. provide humanitarian assistance to Iraq;
  7. secure oil resources for Iraqi people;
  8. help Iraqi people make the switch to representative Government.

Last year in March (a Sunday a.m. on CNN, 2006) one rolling TV image came from a Balad, Baghdad, surgery. The image was quick, indistinct. A soldier was being rolled into the room. He was shaking on the gurney to the care of a cadre of medical people. His tenor voice sang out in insufferable pain; it hit my ear, went straight to my stomach, echoing his torment. I am sick with recall in writing this, that full body shaking and that cry. My mouth filled with burning acid. I was instantly sick from empathy. The channel then switched to some dippy ad that I covered with shame.

(All the terrorists are not in Iraq. We have among us the uneducables, the irresponsibles, the anti-socials, the incorrigibles, the infantiles. I have the same empathetic feelings when the bestial murder of a young woman hits the screen. It happens regularly and often.)

The ultimate truth about Iraq is this: we fought their revolution for them. Their tyranny was overthrown for reasons incongruous to the Iraqi mind. When we got rid of our external dictatorship 230 years ago and established a rule of our own choosing, we had experienced the motive power it takes to fight a revolution and follow the war with a feeling of ownership, proprietorship. The Iraqis did not experience that. They were force-fed the process and result. The feeling of proprietorship did not motivate their efforts. But they are a fearless people. They have my utmost respect. They will endure. They will find their heroes and their centrifugal center that holds.

After our revolution of six years (1775-1781), we had unresolved internal problems with the details of governing our society, as the Iraqis are now working out theirs. For us, democratic procedures were new and not strong enough in the hearts and minds of the people for whom prescriptions were being written. Our main problem, “a house divided against itself” with no way to resolve the problem of slavery except a civil war of four years (April, 1861-April, 1865). From the American Revolution to the Civil War that finally relieved the problem on the surface spanned 1781 to 1861, 80 years. Compare the issue of slavery to the fighting in Iraq among several religious factions. Religious differences are just as thorny as racial divisions, and perhaps more intractable because religious differences lie deeper in the psyche than racial physical appearance. Should the Iraqis be expected to find brotherhood, coalescing in a national unity government with mature democratic mores and values in one or two years?

Given the Iraqi “revolution” (2003-present), Iraq had no historical, intellectual experience with alternative models of government. They lived surrounded by theocratic or authoritarian regimes that all wanted to oust the only democratic government set down in their midst by world government, the homeland for the Jewish people. Now they are close to having their civil war. Could it be a general rule of history that civil (internal factional) strife necessarily follows revolutionary (regime change) wars?

The terrorists want regime change nearly everywhere, in every land on earth. They have found many open wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan to tear at. Can the democratizing imperative outrun the theocratic aristocracy? Much will depend on the democratic progressives among the Muslim people in the Middle Eastern nations to maintain their fearlessness.

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Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 6:08 pm  Comments (73)  

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