Friday, October 08, 2004

 

Iraqis Blame America


The question of what Iraqis think of America keeps coming back.

At the beginning of the conflict, I was once asked by someone in the countryside about the Americans - what they were like and that sort of thing. I tried to describe your lot to the best of my limited knowledge. Among the things (good and bad!) that I said, was that these people come from a society that has the highest respect for law and order; they generally considered lying a shameful thing to do; they regarded a person's dignity as something almost sacred; they cannot condone stealing public money… and corruption in government was almost unknown to them.

[During that discussion, and as a conclusion, I said something like "I expect that we will not have much collective free will for some time to come but you should live more comfortably". Someone remarked: "That sounds like an improvement! I don't have much free will at the moment anyway".]

You have no idea how many times I was reproachfully reminded of those words. My word was compromised… and that represented a significant loss to me.


Lately, when asked about the ugly and the meaningless things happening in Iraq: prisoner abuse, Fallujah, Najaf, random arrests and killings, bombings, lawlessness, terrorism, lies, corruption, "puppeteering", empty promises and now aerial bombardment of towns … my answer has been: look into your own heart!

One reason is probably escapism on my part… to avoid exposing my own nagging bitterness and nightmares. Besides, decent people anywhere instinctively know what is right and what is wrong if given the facts. And the facts in Iraq are making very loud noises!

But the main reason is, in fact, that I cannot even begin to talk about centers of power, neocons, undeclared intentions, incompetence and things that I have been talking about in this blog. Nobody is interested anymore!

Talk of 9/11 and the enormous effect it had on America invariably brings cries of outrage. Many people cannot understand that their suffering -equally important to them - is caused by the suffering of others or, worse, by fear of possible suffering.

More enlightened beings argue thus: America is a democracy. The government is selected by the majority of the people. People control the government. That means the government reflects the will of the people. Therefore the American people approve of all this!

The problem is that the answer coming back is not favorable to America. You can blame them as much as you like, but America is seen as evil by most people in Iraq today. Pure and simple! I honestly don't know whether that can be rectified now. That depresses me. But I am sure of one thing: it will not be rectified by more bombing and killing.



Comments:

Please forgive me because I know this can be a circular arguement but I am trying to understand the logic. We would not be bombing these cities if "terrorists" or "resistance fighters" or whatever you want to call them weren't blowing up US forces and Iraqi civilians. If we were all about just bombing and killing we could have easily leveled the Ali Hussein mosque and ended Sadr's little game right there.

I also understand the frustration at the speed of rebuilding projects. But there again, we fix it, and someone blows it up. Or the people trying to do the work get captured and beheaded. Who is going to volunteer for rebuilding projects know they might get killed as "infidels" or US "collaborators"??

I know that we have made some agregious mistakes in Iraq and I feel very disappointed for those but I honestly believe that we want to do the right thing and are hindered in many cases.

Take Abu Grahib as an example. I am certainly willing to admit that certain "torture" methods were probably condoned at higher levels. However, I HIGHLY doubt that that included any raping, killing, etc. I imagine it was certain groups of people taking liberty with the rules.

I suppose that the Iraqi people can never really trust us or maybe be true friends to the US (and probably rightedly so) but I do hope that we can somehow get through this so that Iraqi's can live in peace and prosperity.
 
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maybe you go here and check out what another iragi thinks, http://messopotamian.blogspot.com/
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
Do the Iraqis see a difference between Bush and the American people? You must realized that Bush is simply not a normal US politican. Most US politicans promise things to make people happy and then for various reasons they come up short, which are then called liars or flip floppers,etc.
Bush doesn't make any promises except tax cuts and to destroy enemies--and these are easily done, with terrible effect. It is one thing to promise too much, it is another to promise to kill. Irresponsible Bush is a political freak and does not represent the American people.
 
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The problem seems to me to be more that America is put in a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' position, largely intentionally fostered by the Arab media.

For instance, the US is blamed for not imposing order, but simultaneously criticized for gestapo tactics whenever they actually do enter the cities, patrol, and make arrests.

This attitude, on both sides of the issue, is caused by the pervasively anti-American Arab media.

They report on citizens complaining about security, and send the message to other Iraqis that the Americans are to blame from the lack of security, rather than the so-called "resistance". Then they also interview Iraqis complaining about the US tanks in the streets and the soldiers arresting people, and interview people claiming the arrests were unjust. Again, sending a message that the Americans are oppressing people.

The perspective that the contuning violence is the responsibility of the groups who are doing it is rarely displayed, nor is any effort ever made to discourage it.

In short, the Arab media is teaching them to hate, and rationalizing that hate through biased reporting.
 
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From the outside world, it all seems very clear - just too many "F"'s. (Fierce Five-year-old Female Foreign Fighters)
Every day we hear from the American military that their bombs are smart and super-accurate,and that they are targeted on the basis of "intelligence."
And every night on television we see the results -more and more Fierce Five-year-old Female Foreign Fighters in Iraqi hospitals and morgues.
There also seems to be a campaign against weddings - first the one at Makr AlDeeb, now one in Fallujah. If the Generals don't want Iraqis to get married, why don't they just say so?
It's called "collateral damage."
In Vietnam it led to the memorable military statement "It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it." In Iraq, that seems to translate into a readiness to kill about ten innocent Iraqis in order to hopefully hit one "bad guy."
One reason America lost in Vietnam was because their bombing created more Cong than it killed.
But bombing seems to be the only tactic they know.
Not necessarily all the fault of the military - they can only do what they can with the forces available. If you are going to invade and conquer another country, then even if you have good reasons for doing so, you have a responsibility to put in sufficient forces to ensure stability and order. On the ground. Like the British have tried to do in the south.
Otherwise the military will naturally fight from the air, and you can't bomb urban guerillas without "collateral damage."
So at the moment the Americans seem to be creating more "insurgents" than they are killing -every dead child probably adds another five or ten guerillas.
After the next massive attack on Fallujah, that'll be another brigade of angry Iraqis.
Round and round and round ...
 
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Could sound harsh for US-ians too... but it was said by ... one of their 'The Founding Fathers'

"They who can give up essential liberty
to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Benjamin Franklin

-c-
 
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I dispute the idea that bombing insurgents necessarily creates more insurgents.

Though repeating this notion as if it were a fact certainly encourages them.
 
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Hello Anonymous,
"I dispute the idea that bombing insurgents necessarily creates more insurgents.
Though repeating this notion as if it were a fact certainly encourages them."
What planet do you live on? Nothing irritates people like being bombed, and nothing creates hatred like bombing of your group. Take off your ridiculous blinders.
 
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The choice of the word "America" was intentional I'm afraid – that's why it's so depressing! It seems that I was not successful in getting that message across in this post.

I assure the comment poster with the "circular argument" that the situation is not "circular". You create a situation. This situation leads to violence. You respond with violence… and the cycle continues. It is not circular; it has a beginning! A "spiral" perhaps?

Talk of media teaching Iraqis to hate America…
Iraqis do not need the media to tell them what's happening. They don't live 10 000 miles away. They live here. These things happen to them.
 
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It's the original "circular" Anonymous here. Abu I agree there has to be a beginning to a spiral.
As far as I am aware it is now firmly established world-wide, even in half of the U.S.A., that the Coalition invasion of Iraq was a mistake - there were no WMD, no links to terrorism, and therefore no urgency or immediate need to go to war. Saddam posed no direct threat to the U.S.A., probably not even an indirect one - he had more-or-less retired to Palace-building and writing novels. He was yesterday's villian.
So I see the invasion as the beginning of the cycle of violence.
Maybe there was some sense in getting rid of Saddam, but only if it was done in the right way -with a seriously planned occupation and with sufficient troops to do the job properly. Instead we seem to have ended up with the clumsiest conquest in history - the Americans are, thank God, not ruthless enough to simply "bomb the living daylights" (as you quoted) out of the country they have chosen to "liberate" - but on the other hand they are indeed ruthless enough to inflict a high level of "collateral damage" as they try to control the Iraqi Resistance.
Estimates of Iraqi civilian casualties (and please remember the U.S.A. is not officially "at war" with the people of Iraq) seem to range between 10,000 and 30,000. I would like an American poster to specify what they consider to be an acceptable level of collateral damage - how many good guys are you prepared to kill in order to hit one bad guy?
Any Iraqi view on that - how many innocents is the remote possibilty of "democracy" and "stability" worth?
 
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On behalf of the rest of the world i would like to apologize to all the Iraqi people for being ILLEGALY invaded by the U.S. and having a destroyed country now with no security.
 
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We bombed the crap out of Germany and Japan and that didn't make THEM attack us more.

So obviously, bombing people does not always make them fight back more. At some point, the power structure, and the ideology which is responsible for organizing the attacks crumbles. As in the government of Germany collapsing and Hitler committing suicide, or the Emperor of Japan signing a surrender agreement.

You kill enough advocates and followers of a particular ideology, be it nationalistic or religious in nature, and you discredit it by proving that it is not viable and not sucessful. Without an ideology to provide a support structure, bombing only creates diffuse resentment, not an organized opposition.
 
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Madame Butterfly's Letter to Iraq:

I read your blog for the first time today. I think the thing that struck me was in your first impression of Americans: there was no room for error.

Not all Americans are bad. Just as we cannot judge all
Iraqis by a few bad ones, Iraqis should not judge all Americans by a few bad ones.

Have all Americans you met disappointed you that much? Do we appear absolutely inhumane as a whole to you? If so, for that, I am truly sorry that you cannot see what is in our hearts as a nation.

Regardless of the country, the religion, the ethnicity of a people, there will always be good and bad. To expect otherwise is foolish. We in America are no different, and do not pretend otherwise. Our media airs our "dirty laundry" out there enough, we could never pretend to be perfect.

However. We do not approve of a leader who beheads his own people. We do not approve of a leader who rapes his women, or allows his sons to rape women. We do not approve of a leader who kills hundreds and thousands of people, and dumps them in a pile to become faceless grains of sand and dust.

It is for those crimes many Americans shake their heads, and feel pity that many Iraqis will never understand the true feeling of freedom for many years.

It seems that you almost wish Saddam was still alive and in charge? Is this so?

Freedom is not cheap. It is not easy. The desire for freedom must burn in the hearts and minds of all of the citizens of Iraq for it to happen.

You may read other blogs, including mine, and see the strong discussions going on about politics and our upcoming elections. I am proud that we can hold these discussions. I am proud to know that no one will threaten me, or my family, for believing one way over another politically. And even after all is said and
done on November 2, 2004, regardless of who wins, there will still be no repercussions against me or my family because of our beliefs.

THAT is comforting, and THAT is freedom.

Does the desire burn in you? And what are you willing to do for freedom?

If the answer is nothing, then you will get nothing.

If the answer is everything, then you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. For yourself, your family, and your future family.

May the sun rise upon you another day, and shine upon your face and show you the way to freedom.

Madame Butterfly
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
You may have to repost this article many times to penetrate the Americans here! Abu Khaleel, you have to be much more direct. Frankly, it is astonishing that honest Iraqis who want to tell it like it is are doubted but administration spin doctors are to be believed. US bloggers, what Bush is doing IS NOT WORKING AND MUST STOP IMMEDIATELY. Here I am imagining 'Dr.' Bush operating to 'save' the patient 'Iraq' without anesthesia or understanding what he should do...Ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..owwwwww! Followed by..'The operation is a success,but the patient died'. Next?
 
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Madame Butterfly,

Thank you for your advice. If only you spent half the time it took you to type that comment to read my previous posts, you would have found out that you have made many assumptions that are simply false.

Before you decide to help somebody unilaterally, as obviously is your good intention, it would not do you harm to find out what that somebody has to say.

May the sun rise upon you another day, and shine upon your face and show you the way to wisdom.
 
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"Before you decide to help someone unilaterally ..."
Well exactly, and what form does your help take?
I didn't get any takers to my invitation for comments on collateral damage.
I bet Madam Butterfly won't answer this:
You are a F16 pilot tasked to bomb a house in Fallujah where "intelligence" reports that there are "suspected" or "presumed" insurgents. You know that your bomb will destroy not just the target house but several houses around it. You also know that at least two thirds of the people in cities are women and small children. There are two chances in three that you are just about to kill some of them.
Do you drop your bomb, Madam Butterfly? Do you?
Those women and kids haven't done you any harm. What gives you the right to decide to kill them?
 
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Hmmm...

Is it wrong to strike a house identified as haven for insurgent planning and activity, knowing it will kill innocents?

Do you think the same consideration is given when someone uses a RCIED in a market square and kills their own innocents, or uses themselves as a bomb on a bus?

PLEAASE-it's so easy to sit on the sidelines, keeping score, and passing judgement. "Ooh, they did that, so we'll do this." "Since they did that, we can do this."

There's also something else life as taught me-there is always three sides to the truth. Do I believe for a second that the insurgents never ever use the cover of innocents as a shield? Not on your life. It's a common tactic, and not a very honorable one. Do I wish singling out of the insurgents could be done a different way? Sure.

But until Iraqi citizens do stand up for their own country, and not live in fear of the insurgents, then the conflict and the innocent deaths will continue.

Of course, picture the converse. We could just pick up and leave. Poof. Gone.

Where would that leave the structure of your country? Where would that leave the status of your freedoms?

I suspect things would be far worse.

MB
 
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"Do I wish singling out of the insurgents could be done a different way ..."
Well it could have been. If you really felt it was absolutely essential to send your forces ten thousand miles, for no urgent reason, to invade and conquer and rule another country, then you should have sent enough troops to do the job properly, and you should have planned the "ruling" bit properly.
Try reading what the Iraqi bloggers have actually been saying - its not the fact of invasion that's caused the insurgency, its the manner of the subsequent occupation.
Circular Anonymous
 
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Early last year, in pursuing a religious argument, I took the time to look up 'honor/shame societies'. I found about half of the articles on-line dealt with Iraqi society, claiming that if we were to defeat the Iraqi army, all resistance would quickly fold. Much of this was supported by reference to post-war Japan.

My analysis, both then and now, was that the writers were over-simplifying the world to fit their own desires.

Japan and Germany had both espoused the belief that they were superior to the rest of the world. They had declared war on much of the rest of the world, to promote that superiority. The defeat of the Axis powers during WW II was a defeat of their world-view as well. In regards to Iraq, there was no such belief that Iraq could (and should) conquer the world. The only belief which was quickly dispelled was that the US wouldn't kill civilians. Early in the war I read and heard about Iraqi confidence in American smart-bombs. (I grant, that MAY have been pro-American propaganda. I have no way of knowing.) With the killing of many hundreds (thousands?) of civilians by 'smart-bombs', such confidence was seen by many as misplaced.

Perhaps our 'smart-bombs' are not as 'smart' as we want to believe?

As to those who believe that simply killing enough of the radicals may prevent the growth of the murderous opposition--Egypt and Algeria have killed (and will continue killing) as many of similar blood-thirsty radicals as they can, as such groups are a direct threat to the governments. Success however seems very far. The Nazis eagerly killed members of the resistance, and the Israelis kill members of groups like Hamas. The Khmer Rouge targetted any who even might vaguely seem in opposition to Pol Pot's view of Cambodia. The US government was involved in the destruction of the Branch Davidians at Waco. None of these actions decreased the appeal of the opposition to potential opponents. Only such wholesale destruction as the US practiced on the American Indians and Genghiz Khan practiced against all who withstood him --only such extreme violence is proved as effective in destroying the will to resist.
On the other hand, it is possible, as we proved after WW II in Germany and Japan, to 'overcome evil with good'. We had learned the lessons of WW I and the Treaty of Versailles. We would not drive Germany or Japan to a new radicalism by punishment without mercy. We rebuilt their occupied nations, rather than subjecting them to on-going poverty and ignominy.

Be Well,
 
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A lot of americans are spoiled with good fortune and do not have any motivation to look beyond their own little microcosms. Even those who wish desperately to do something to stop all this have little power. One vote is next to nothing. Many don't even bother to vote, some citing that very reason.

I can't help but feel that the majority of americans do not like what our government is doing, even though Bush won the election. But it may simply be that I live in more compassionate parts of the country, I don't know. I think the election was rigged, personally.

I just hope that Iraqis keep in mind that every group has good and bad people. Unfortunately, our government has rampant corruption. I think what our government has done is evil, and that is the way of governments in history. Maybe we can change that in future generations, but there are always people who take advantage where they can. Americans need to work on their local problems, and even in that, we feel helpless and powerless. I am angry that our freedoms are eroded for security. I am angry that my money is spent doing evil things in other countries. But life will go on, worse things have happened. I could not believe when I grew up and learned that such evil things still happen! We should be beyond that. we should have a global community with compassion and strong environmental laws. I am so sorry for Bush, and I voted against him twice. I don't blame the world for thinking america sucks. I think our political persona sucks. I hope we can do better, but I fear our democracy is unravelling. It may be a long time before we can make it better again.
 
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I am a bit less optimistic than the previous commentator. The story of US's dealings with Iraq over the past 15 years has been a ridiculous one, from April Glaspie misleading Saddam into thinking the US did not object to his plans of invading Kuwait, all the way to George W. holding up a FORGED document in order to "prove" that Sadaam was seeking Uranium in Northern Africa.

In 1989, Iraq was one of the most powerful and richest countries in the Middle East, with a socially progressive culture. All the best doctors and engineers came from Iraq.

After nearly 10 years of sanctions, and constant bombing in the NO-FLY zone and this most recent invasion and occupation, my country has reduced Iraq to its current state.

In short over the years our policies have f***ed Iraq over.

We have justified our policies all along as having noble motivations, but I can't see that easing the pain.

It would be misleading to pass blame on the Bush Administration, or to say that our country has been hijacked. Our most recent election is proof that the desire to invade Iraq extends to the people of the US.

On the day that it was reported in the newspaper that George W.s document that "proved" Sadaam was seeking Uranium, was actually a forged document, I heard a coworker say, "Of course we have to invade Iraq, what would the world be like if we had let Hitler build weapons of Mass Destruction." People here have had access to the information, but they seem to have had blinders on.

Do not get me wrong, I love my country. I am proud of the great things we have accomplished for ourselves and for the world. But I am not proud of the bad things. That would be simply stupid. That would be like telling your son, "I'm Proud of you", when you find out that he received an F in art class.

And so I am not proud of my countries recent 15 year history of dealings with Iraq.

I feel like I am rambling so let me quickly articulate my concluion.

Over the past 15 years in dealing with Iraq, a very clear pattern of disconnect between statements made by US officials and reality, is apparent. Our words sound noble, but Iraq gets f***ed. This pattern is so clear that I don't even listen to the statements made anymore, but focus on the actions trying to guess what the unspoken agenda may be.

So far my guess is that the agenda is far from noble.

My Message to Iraq:

When an American says he wants to help, WATCH OUT!

I tried to get rid of Bush. I did a lot of legwork. Sorry I let you down.
 
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I honestly don't know what to think, but I know this - dictatorships have to be ended somehow, and replaced with stable democracies. Is the best way to do this by invading a country and throwing it into termoil? Probably not. Is the best way to do this by improving it's economic and social straits? Probably... but Saddam Hussein was a progressive, secular liberal, and he committed incredible atrocities, and doesn't seem to have improved Iraq's straits at all.

So, I basically said "I don't know". I'm anti-war, you're anti-war, but there are quite a few pro-war blogs by Iraqis. I loathe George W Bush with a passion, but we'll really have to wait for ten years before we truly know if he was right or not. I just hope as many Iraqis as possibe survive to reflect in 2015.
 
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