I saw Iraq from the inside, and I saw and heard the reaction of military men, who are immensely practical. When we all saw Iraqis killing each other with such fervor, many times torturing each other to death with enthusiasm, the fantasy of being hailed as liberators was not lost on a single person, except perhaps Bremer The Bungler. Iraqis were not ready for anything but their repressive home-grown dictators. Americans and others threw off the yokes of their oppressors. Iraqis weren’t ready to, they’d rather go after Those Folks Over there, a few miles away, with Black and Deckers to drill their eyes out.
The U.S. did not only bring death and destruction. As just a small note from my daily life and observation, their electrical installations were abysmal, and must have killed and maimed quite of few people who got fried just servicing their power systems. It takes a complicated political, commercial, and educational system to support safe electrical power, and by extension, safe construction, safe streets…safety. We here take it for granted, or grumble that the latest code makes us install more expensive breakers in the bathrooms. What passes for news and journalism there is repackaged rumor and conspiracy theories – they don’t have the same journalism we have here, not that ours is perfect. Iraqi MPs such as Ayad Jamal Al-Din on TV will say that the “Americans are not teenagers”, and argue for the separation of religion and state. Then he and his bodyguards try to get him home in one piece.
We have non-American Westerners blaming American godbots for all the capital “E” Evil in the Middle East on the Bush Gang and godbots. OK, it’s convenient, and what’s the harm in getting that a little wrong? It’s harmful because it’s not an accurate picture.
A group of larger-visioned people will also like to blame the Europeans, for hurting the poor feelings of all those Ottoman Empire citizens by breaking it up and drawing new border lines guaranteed to continue conflict for decades or centuries. Smarter than those are the ones who go back and blame the British, those pompous, arrogant, god-bot-driven Imperialists, who foisted their single malt Whiskeys on all those poor wogs, amongst other sins. The crusaders!, let’s blame them too, just as our genius Bill Clinton blamed 9/11 on the crusades.
All of this is Original Sin…Westerners living far from danger (except you and a few other travelers), wringing our hands with guilt, because we’ve got the spare time to do it and it’s in our human nature. This is Christianity’s great insight and why it continues to this day, in the face of overwhelming and damning evidence that it’s nothing but warmed over syncretic mythology. The longing for equality is fine until it breeds navel-gazing self blame beyond all proportion or reality, questioning our right to exist. Nature supports both competition and cooperation, might-makes-right and restraint, not just one or the other.
European powers won World War 1. Breaking up the Ottoman Caliphate was their right. That there are painful consequences to the Sykes Picot lines is true. But find us the Perfect Parallel universe where there is peace and harmony in the Middle East from some other, better solution, so we can adequately know how many times to flagellate ourselves to a bloody pulp over our sins. Repressive dictators are in charge, keeping the democracy-yearning masses from a good life, and we’re responsible for those repressive dictators like Mossedeh? That’s probably because we were in a Cold War, which few here seem to remember. Of course, fearing the Soviet Union was also, hindsight, wrong, especially since the Soviet Union isn’t around for us to fear any more. Breaking up the Caliphate was to stop Islamic jihad. If you’ve got some other way to do it, go ahead and make your case.
As part of our obsession with Original Sin, we put a peg in the sand to start the mark of time as if everything before was a Garden of Eden, and we messed it up. Iran before the CIA meddled? Must have been a paradise. The Ottoman Empire? OK, let’s ignore the jihad, the corruption, the janissaries, the Armenian Genocide, and look instead at their quaint architecture …it must have been a paradise before we spoiled it. We put the peg in the sand where it’s most easy to confirm that we have serious, soul-deep flaws, and only the writers calling up these sins hold the keys to salvation and the way to Heaven. We’ve got the original sin, and President Cheney is Satan, the rest of the Bush gang …and current “neocons” and “godbots” his minions.
Few people want to go back to 632 and the immediate years after, and note jihad and wonder how it all came about. Few people want to point out that Europe and American evolved long after that into the new value systems we use to prove that we fall far short.
is not some mutant strain of Islam. It is Islam. A good discussion for why and how it came about would include Muhammed and his imitators. A good discussion would call attention to our prejudices, such as the idea if we kill the leader (bin Laden, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi), the gang will disappear, instead of the reality which is that the core Islamic documents will continue to generate these jihadist. IS is all our fault? It’s chief , Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was a prisoner in Bucca. We didn’t cut off his head, even when he and his brethren exposed themselves, spit at guards, threw feces at their captors, and set fire to their own facilities…because we in the west value human life, even those of enemies, and believe for some reason that when you’re dead, you’re really dead and not going to Judgment, and therefore sparing a life is better than killing all your enemies. We even sympathize with people, feeling guilty for hurting their feelings and causing them to feel “humiliated”. This value is not stated in Islam documents, except about other Muslims.
What forces me make sounds similar to Carthago delenda est is our failure here to break out of our Western mind-blinders long enough to understand an enemy who/which wants to enslave us. Our prejudices run deep, and many feel they’re what make us human. But to think like nature is to partially turn into an objective…robot. Then when you look at Islam, you’ll know how Bishop feels when he looks at the Alien.