31 August 2010

Iraqi Concerns About the Future

The AP has a very good article about the Iraqis view of their future without the US. Normally we excerpt a bit of an article for you to get a sense of the story. This time, though, I gotta jump around the story to get my comments in...

Iraqis, who for years have railed against the U.S. occupation, are generally happy to see that the American presence won't be endless. But there is also considerable trepidation about whether Iraq can go it alone.
"It's not the right time," said Johaina Mohammed, a 40-year-old teacher from Baghdad. "There is no government, the security is deteriorating, and there is no trust."

Really now. You've had 7 years to get your shit together. We've given Iraqis plenty of time to get a government together, to pull together the security situation, and to build some trust. You chose to shoot each other, ethnically cleanse the neighborhoods, attack girls going to school, behead random businessmen and policemen, and try to create random application of so-called Islamic laws. You chose not to get your act together. We're not waiting anymore.

The fear of political divisions, aggravated by the struggle for control of Iraq's oil potential, is ever present. Some Iraqis worry that without the American soldiers, their country will revert to a dictatorship or split along religious and ethnic fault lines.
"They should go, but the security situation is too fragile for the Americans to withdraw now," said Mohammed Hussein Abbas, a Shiite from the town of Hillah south of Baghdad. "They should wait for the government to be formed and then withdraw."

No, you should have formed a government 5 months ago right after the elections. You should've agreed on an equitable governmental basis back in 2003 when Saddam was removed. As Alexis de Tocqueville once said, "In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve." We've given you a chance to get your crap together. We're not waiting.

Even former Sunni insurgents in Fallujah, who supported armed resistance against two American assaults on the city in Iraq's western province of Anbar, are dismayed at U.S. troops leaving after they joined forces and fought extremists together.
"Of course we were against the occupation, but in 2007 the Americans came up with a good plan for fighting al-Qaida, not Iraq," said Col. Abdelsaad Abbas Mohammad, a Fallujah commander in the government-supported Sunni militia, known as the Awakening Councils. "Americans have committed many mistakes, but they did not go into houses and chop people's heads off."

Aye, there's the rub - you march in protest about a US raid that breaks a table lamp and the international press condemns the Americans for ridding the world of a brutal dictator. But I have yet to see a strike in Baghdad to condemn an Al Qaeda hit squad.

To many Iraqis, the U.S. drawdown and emphasis on the end of combat operations looks to many Iraqis as if Obama is playing to domestic politics instead of assessing what is truly right for Iraq,

You know what, here's a thought... Why don't the Iraqis try "assessing what is truly right for Iraq" instead of assessing what is truly right for they individual clan, mosque, family, neighborhood, etc.

Look, even Friedman noted this in a column earlier this week, in which he points out that it's been a long time since a politician has surprised us with their behavior...

I just saw the movie “Invictus” — the story of how Nelson Mandela, in his first term as president of South Africa, enlists the country’s famed rugby team, the Springboks, on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup and, through that, to start the healing of that apartheid-torn land. The almost all-white Springboks had been a symbol of white domination, and blacks routinely rooted against them. When the post-apartheid, black-led South African sports committee moved to change the team’s name and colors, Mandela stopped it. He explained that part of making whites feel at home in a black-led South Africa was not uprooting all their cherished symbols. “That is selfish thinking,” Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, says in the movie. “It does not serve the nation.” Then speaking of South Africa’s whites, Mandela adds, “We have to surprise them with restraint and generosity.”
I love that line: “We have to surprise them.” I was watching the movie on an airplane and scribbled that line down on my napkin because it summarizes what is missing today in so many places: Leaders who surprise us by rising above their histories, their constituencies, their pollsters, their circumstances — and just do the right things for their countries.
I tried to recall the last time a leader of importance surprised me on the upside by doing something positive, courageous and against the popular will of his country or party. I can think of a few: Yitzhak Rabin in signing onto the Oslo peace process. Anwar Sadat in going to Jerusalem. And, of course, Mandela in the way he led South Africa.
But these are such exceptions. Look at Iraq today. Five months after its first truly open, broad-based election, in which all the major communities voted, the political elite there cannot rise above Shiite or Sunni identities and reach out to the other side so as to produce a national unity government that could carry Iraq into the future. True, democracy takes a long time to grow, especially in a soil bloodied by a murderous dictator for 30 years. Nevertheless, up to now, Iraq’s new leaders have surprised us only on the downside.

And if they are only going to surprise us on the downside, it's time to go home.

By: Brant

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