You have to dig to find them but every now and then there are articles in our news media that give a glimpse of what’s happening in Iraq. Don’t get me wrong. I’m quite certain that the bombings, kidnappings and other attacks reported do happen. I just wonder what else is going on. I mean seriously, add up the time and space covered by the attacks reported and you have an account for maybe, what, 3% of one day and maybe 1% of the area.
This article offers some insight into why we are still in Iraq. I’m not sure what the American public’s expectation is. How long does it take to build a nation? How long does it take to form a military capable of protecting a nation’s borders and its people? Some propose that a military existed and we should not have disbanded it. Yet we saw in two confrontations what this military was capable of. In both cases they anxiously laid down their weapons in surrender or desertion. And for good reason. They had nothing to fight for. The nation they served was not their own. They were but slaves to a tyrant leader who sought only to maintain and increase his own power. Iraqis are learning what it means to have their own nation. In the course of that learning comes the realization that such a nation needs to be defended and is worth defending.
Likewise, the Iraqi politicians are struggling to figure out how it is that various sects of Islam will peacefully co-exist and even cooperate within a single nation. Up until now, politics in Iraq has been a game of king of hill, the most powerful – which usually meant the most violent – winning the right to rule. Or, more accurately, exerting rule. Iraqi leaders of the past 40 to 50 years have not been elected by the populous but rather exerted terror and power over it. Islamic leaders in the country and even many outside are telling the Iraqis that it is morally wrong to cooperate with each other across sectarian lines. Yet, Iraqi politicians are trying to move toward a unified government. Allied forces were in Japan for eight years after World War II. Articles discussing American presence in Bosnia five years after our arrival were similar to those we read about Iraq today. Yet, somehow the American public expects that Iraq should, after three short years be all peace and prosperity. Maybe it’s time to start addressing unrealistic expectations?
In this article we see another example of Iraqi who – in the case very early on – decided that Iraq, or at least their little part of it, was worth working for. These firefighters struck a deal with American forces upon their arrival. These firefighters have shared in the loss of life experienced by Coalition forces, demonstrating their commitment to their community – Sunni and Shia – and in turn their nation.
It is my suspicion that there are many Iraqis – most Iraqis – who, like those in these two articles, are working hard to build a nation. Like those in these two articles, they are dependent on Coalition forces to provide services and materials in order to continue their efforts. They would like to be self-sufficient but they are not there yet. Millions of Iraqis braved severe threats to go to the polls and vote. They waved their ink stained fingers with pride in the face of the fact that some might get killed solely for that stained finger. Iraqis want to build a nation. If Coalition forces pull out prematurely, the Iraqis in these two articles and millions like them will suffer the consequences. And the blame for that will rest squarely on the shoulders of those who orchestrate that premature withdrawal.
[posted with ecto]