December 20, 2006
-- by Dave Johnson
I ask everyone to go read this diary at DailyKos about a family in Iraq, and the local reaction to the sense that American troops will be leaving. Daily Kos: A Sobering, Agonizing Reality.
We all need to come fully to grips with the situation Bush has caused. It isn't a TV show that ends in an hour with everything neatly wrapped up. It's people's lives.My family in Baghdad - it's bad. They can't go out and go to get food. We call and they are in their house because they can't go out. They have separated Baghdad and put Sunnis in one area and Shi'ia in another. And they have people there to keep them apart. But now with your report, they are going to leave and the Shi'ia are going to come over there. I talked to one family member and he told me 'they are going to kill us when the Americans leave'. They don't want electricity and food and jobs anymore. They just want to be safe. It's the only thing they want. And now the Americans are going to leave.Yet at the end of the day, to simply pack up and go home means that my friend's in-laws get slaughtered. Literally slaughtered. Whatever tiny semblance of control there is in Baghdad exists at the end of an American rifle. No more Americans, and those people are GONE.
Yes, it's a terrible situation. We should not have invaded Iraq and the people involved need to be tried for war crimes. But what do we do now?
We started a war, and the war continues. If we "just leave" it gets worse. If we stay it gets worse. But we all have to stop thinking that it can be made to just go away, and start thinking about where we go from here.
Here is a fact - the Geneva Conventions require an occupation force to provide for the security of the occupied region. That's international law, too, just like invading was against the law. Bush and everyone involved in the invasion and aftermath should be tried for their part in it - but from now on the US government STILL has the legal - and moral - responsibility to bring security to the people of Iraq. THAT is what our conversation needs to be now about because that is the most serious need today.
WE invaded - America, not just Bush. We said, "Not in our name!", but it was done - in our name. Citizens in a democracy share responsibility for what that country does. We, the people of the United States, finally lived up to our responsibility to get rid of the Republican majority in the Congress. But that takes us only part of the way back home. It is still our responsibility to impeach Bush and then fulfill our obligation to find a way to protect the people of Iraq.
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If we stay in Iraq we will kill far more people than we save. It's time to figure that out. Is it possible that the memory of bloodstained Fallujah can have been so quickly expunged from memory? Since the collective "we" is being offered with respect to our blood guilt, let's consider a whole city with its women and children being compelled to flee, hurried along by the country's "liberators", while the male population is turned back, confined therein and consigned to their fate. Let's refresh our memory as to families being machine-gunned as they tried swimming the river to safety, the bed-ridden who were shot to death where they lay, a city pulverized and scorched with prohibited weapons like napalm and white phosphorous.
Can we forget what happened to Abir? Can we forget the video of an American soldier shooting a wounded man in a mosque? Are we over Haditha and Abu Ghraib?
I'd like to say after the recent election that we're entitled to a little democracy; but I would hate to discover after our democrats are duly sworn in and seated that we have simply elected (as one blogger put it) "the other war party".
We have lost militarily, as Murtha says. What then is the decision that must follow from that? Maybe we should should send in the few reserves we have left, to rub shoulders with our broken army?
We would truly live in a perfect world, I suppose, if we could hold no one accountable for our defeat in Iraq.
Posted by: Copeland at December 21, 2006 2:45 AM
Remember when Clinton used he phrase, "it's the economy, stupid"? It's time for a new phrase: It's the vocabulary, Stupid!" As long as we keep talking about the situation in Iraq using the wrong words and the wrong definitions, we aren't going to be able to understand what's going on there, much less solve anything.
The war has been over since we deposed Saddam. We are not at war. We won the war.
We established an interim Iraqi government, which wrote a constitution and then held well-attended elections for a permanent Iraqi government. To what extent do we remain responsible for how that government governs? To what extent are the Iraqi people responsible for their own government now? This is a very important issue I haven't seen discussed at all. Is the Iraqi government the equivalent of the Vici government in France during the Nazi occupation, just a puppet government, or is it a real government? If it's a real government, shouldn't it both be allowed and required to govern? I suspect that this is the real heart of our problem and what we should be discussing, and we're not talking about it at all. Instead we keep blathering on about freedom and democracy and terrorism. In fact, if the Iraqi people see their current government as a puppet of the US, there won't be peace there until doomsday. I don't know the answer, considering the large numbers of people who voted for it. To me the huge question is, what is that government actually doing, is it or is it not functioning, and if not, why not? And I haven't got a clue.
Last summer I was part of a delegation from the United States that visited Jordan and Syria in order to meet with a few of the refugees that our war on Iraq had created. We met with Iraqi Sunnis, Shia, Christians, apolitical people, political people. We asked all of them whether they wanted the U.S. to stay or go. They all wanted us to go.
If you want to read accounts of these conversations, check out Happening Here. They are listed in the sidebar on the right.
Iraqis may not be quite so unanimous now, but I fear that a lot of the discourse about this question is ultimately racist -- we have a hard time believing that those Arabic-speaking foreigners might really be able to solve the situation themselves. We need to get over ourselves. Only Iraqis can reconstruct their shattered country. I continue to believe it is our job here to get the US out of the way.
Posted by: janinsanfran at December 22, 2006 10:29 PM
Out of the way BEFORE they have the means in place to protect the population?
I'm also seeing a lot of racist stuff about how these people always fight, etc.
Yes, the Iraqis need to solve this, but we have created a chaotic situation where there are armed sectarian factions fighting for control - and in some cases the right to kill all the other factions and their populations. We can't just turn the population over to them.
Posted by: Dave Johnson at December 23, 2006 11:48 AM
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