Thursday, September 13, 2007

From Liberators, to Occupiers, then Back Again

U.S. Army Sgt. Javier Ceja drinks water after searching a house in the Hurriyah neighborhood in Baghdad. He and the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in late Jan as part of the "surge".- John Moore, Getty Images

We were greeted as liberators. Honestly, it happened:

But political partisanship has a way to willfully create a
memory block. Therefore, it becomes a derisively cute but dishonest indictment of the war to sarcastically say, "We were told we'd be greeted as liberators", with the notion that we weren't.

Post-war operations have turned out less than stellar in comparison to the ease with which we overthrew of Saddam's regime. Compound it with the sabotage of our attempts at "nation-building" by those who desire to foment chaos, instability, and sectarian violence.

Not securing the borders of Iraq from foreign influence (Iran, al-Qaeda, and other foreign fighters) and
protecting Iraqis from the violence they bring is America's failure and America's responsibility. Following the pottery barn rule, helping Iraq stabilize is not only the right thing to do, but also the honorable thing to do.

Impatience is a part of human nature. So is political partisanship. Many Democrats and anti-war liberals were quick to jump on the quagmire bandwagon, by around the 8th day.

It should be noted, that not everything that has happened in the last 4 years have been all negative. Iraq has been a mixed bag of positive steps, and negative setbacks. I think the elections were held too soon for such a fledgling democracy; but there were political pressures to step things up, and we needed a symbolic victory at the time, amidst the criticism, unreasonable expectations, and growing impatience. The day of purple fingers, was indeed, a victory of sorts, and one to be proud of.

Remember too, that 2004 showed that Iraqis, overall, were optimistic about their future and said that the country was on the right course:
Iraqis consistently say in nationwide polls that the situation in their country is improving. In polls over the course of the summer, for example, more than half of Iraqis said their country was on the right track. The vast majority of Iraqis — 72% — see the same benefits in democracy as Americans do: the hope for peace, stability and a better life. Most polls show that 75% of Iraqis want to vote for their leaders rather than have clerics appoint them.
A major setback was the bombing of the al-Askari Mosque in February of 2006, as al-Qaeda sought to instigate a "civil war".

Here is an interesting observation by Matt Sanchez regarding the so-called "sectarian strife":

With all the talk of sectarian violence, on the surface it seems very simple: Group A hates group B, group B feels it is OK to rob, steal and murder people from group A, so retaliation leads to frustration and hostilities escalate, or at least that's the media translation. But the reality is a bit more complicated – or simpler – depending on your point of view.

You see, in Baghdad, where I interviewed many Iraqis on the subject of old hatreds, religious sects or ethnic cleansing, almost all of them said there is no difference between Shia and Sunni. In fact, historically many neighborhoods have been very mixed, with Shia and Sunni marriages not uncommon. This may be where confusion in language and culture comes in, because in Baghdad violence often takes place along ethnic lines, but the reasons are possibly simpler than religious ideology.

Greed. The angry man knew very well who had forced him to leave his home, because the aggressors were mostly his neighbors, people he knew.

I also reject the notion that the nay-sayers make, regarding Sunnis and Shia not being able to set aside their differences and come together as Iraqis.

Had we been able to provide the security that Iraqis needed, we would be in a better place. Of course, there would still be griping and complaining, and even anti-American rhetoric. Impatience is a part of human nature, as is bitching. We will always find something to complain about, not really taking into account that things could always be worse.

I've seen this put forth before, regarding pro-liberation Iraqis who turned America critic soon after:
Just after the war, Iraqis believed Americans, with their superior technology and abundant cash would literally cure the ailing millennial city as fast as they had defeated Saddam's much-vaunted Republican Guard. One man told me he practically expected the Americans to instantly put food, television sets and a brand new car on each doorstep, the way a paperboy delivers the news.
Unrealistic expectations. There is no magic wand to wave.

I found this observation of great interest, and fair criticism by an Iraqi interviewed by Bill Ardolino:
… I’m not blaming the United States for everything, I’m saying, when you take charge, you have to take the full responsibility. And one of the responsibilities you have is to close the borders between us and foreign influences. And that’s the solution. Once you cut off the borders from foreign influence, everyone will realize one thing: we are Iraqi, we have to support each other. The problem does not originate in Iraq.
Read the whole interview. It's compelling, regarding the lack of communication and understanding of American motives, the initial alignment with al-Qaeda by Fallujans, and the subsequent rejection and alignment back with the Americans.

And now, where we find ourselves today, we again have unrealistic expectations, driven by political partisanship by those who have politically invested themselves in defeat.

Before, the argument was, "too few troops" and not listening to "the generals". Now it is "too many troops" and "don't listen to the general". When some Democrats acknowledged military success in the Baghdad Security Plan, the goal posts now become, "...but there's no political progress." "The government's corrupt". "Decrease in violence happened in spite of the surge." Forget for a moment that our own Congress on a regular basis fails to pass legislations in a timely manner; and as President Bush put it, "we've had 200 years of practice."

olice corruption? Mexico has that aplenty, and last I checked, they have a functioning (*cough, cough*) government. Political corruption? We have plenty of that, too.

Despite the surge, not because of it?! The Awakening was an unexpected anomaly when we created benchmarks for progress-measuring. But to say our soldiers have not had a hand in the success is just political willful

Patience and commitment. Flexibility and adaptability as well, to the ebb and flow of the ever-changing fortunes of war.We should be sending the right message to our Iraqi allies and to America's enemies: That America will "stay the course", and not quit the battlefield.

So what will the Democrats say when political progress in Iraq becomes reality? Will they still stand in the way of history's momentum? Will they still stand in the way of freedom and democracy? Will they still crave a President Bush defeat more than they desire an American victory?

We liberated Iraq from a brutal dictator. Time, now, to help Iraqis liberate themselves from those who worship a violent ideology. The same ideology that was responsible for our own awakening.

A young Iraqi girl embraces Capt. Janet Rose assigned to the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, at the Baqouba Women and Children's Hospital, June 9, 2007.

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Blogger Lexcen said...

Look at a map of Iraq. Look at which countries border Iraq. Then ask yourself, shouldn't these borders have been secured? That is the nature of the mistake in strategy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007 1:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

"the sabotage of our attempts at "nation-building" by those who desire to foment chaos, instability, and sectarian violence."

Yes, Democrats have been among the best enablers for violence in Iraq....

"So what will the Democrats say when political progress in Iraq becomes reality? Will they still stand in the way of history's momentum? Will they still stand in the way of freedom and democracy? Will they still crave a President Bush defeat more than they desire an American victory?"

You have to ask?

Another excellent post!

Thursday, September 13, 2007 11:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go to Last of Iraqis blog. if anyone compares what Mohammed writes to the "analysis" you and the rest of the collaborators here write, it's easy to see why you need to blame your failures in Iraq on everyone but the arrogance and self-pity you're cursed with.

Try as you might to recapture the glorious three minutes of Rumsfeldian "liberation" you believe the Iraqis celebrated, the fact remains: your lack of viable knowledge of the Middle East is the basis of your endless nightmare, not the anti-war movement or "democrats."

Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rove and Rumsfeld--and of course the equally arrogant and dismissive cancer patient, Tony Snow--are damaged goods.

You might even evolve into Americans deserving of respect if you simply read blogs by real Iraqis and stopped fantasizing and trying to re-write history to suit your needs.

Friday, September 14, 2007 11:13:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Thanks for your seething comment. I added Last of the Iraqis to my sidebar. It's good to get all perspectives.

Unfortunately, your own comment reveals your own arrogance as much as it attempts to shine light on mine.

Maybe you just misunderstand the nature of my post. Maybe English isn't your first language. I don't know. This is why those posting under "anonymous" can be a bit annoying, as well as first-time visitors who act as if they know you, and what you think.

Friday, September 14, 2007 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Hi, fellow "colaborator"! ;)

We do seem to have a problem regarding borders, both here and in Iraq. I wonder why that is?

Progress in Iraq has already become a reality, and we know what the Democrats are saying. As for them standing in the way of history's momentum, of course they will. It's their job. They don't seem to know what else to do with themselves.

Saturday, September 15, 2007 5:59:00 AM  
Blogger SkyePuppy said...

Excellent post! And I love the photos.

Anon reminds me of many of the Lefties I know: Angry and quick to declare those who disagree with them as "arrogant." I'm surprised Anon didn't throw in "bigot." That's their other favorite word.

Keep up the good work, WordSmith.

Saturday, September 15, 2007 9:12:00 PM  

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