Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Tragedy Of Iraq (...or "Iraq Is Burning!")

First, I would like to thank those who continually read Beyond The Political Spectrum in attempting to keep up with important events in the news. At the same time, I would like to apologize to those same regular readers for not routinely posting in the last several months on a regular basis. Some of you might know that I have been working to publish a series of crisis-themed books meant to serve as a comprehensive source for disaster planning for both individuals as well as organizations. With that having been said, with so much news and so many associated issues regarding this news, it would simply make sense to just touch on the most relevant item in the news currently.

Sunni insurgents linked with a more radical offshoot of al-Queda driving through Mosul, the second largest city in the country.

If one were attempting to sum up the lowest point in the American involvement in Iraq—2006 and 07—in terms of the political, military, and religious upheavals, the best word would be “quagmire.” Currently, the best word that could most accurately describe the current situation in terms of the military gains of the radical Sunni Muslim insurgency on the march toward the Iraqi capital of Baghdad—as Iraqi government military forces deserted the field of battle en masse—is “tragedy.” Tragedy was in fact the best description from the start of the ill-advised decision of the U.S. to invade the country in the first place in 2003…under the erroneous assumption that its former leadership harbored “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD’s).
Tragedy is the way proponents within the American government attempted to social engineer post-Saddam Hussein by imposing regime change. Granted, Hussein was not the most stable of individuals, his presence did create level of stability that kept any indication of sectarianism from manifesting as anything but occasional unpleasantries between individuals from opposing religious sects. Maybe the late dictator actually knew something about the intra-religious dynamics of his own country that American “experts” didn’t (and still don’t). Maybe a brutal strongman or a heavy hand in governance is all that stands between order and the chaos of ethnic and religious divisions played out in the realm of violent confrontations. We saw this play out in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, when the artificial political boundaries created after WWI ignored these human divisions in favor of creating recognized nation-states. Like in Iraq, pre-2003 oppressive rule managed to lightly smother the true inter-ethnic feelings and differences under the surface. That is, until the current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shia-dominated central government all-but disenfranchised the Sunni population in the country…the same Sunni who some have taken up with the insurgents. Before the current crisis, ethnic and religious fighting was unheard of as a result of tough rulership. Tragedy too, is the result of not heeding the lessons of history.
Tragic still is the fact that we Americans are so ethnocentric, so self-assured that our way of form of governance and viewing the world that we couldn’t—and still can’t—stop to think for a single moment that Western-style democracy doesn’t work for everyone. This is especially true when tribal identities are more potent than national identities. This is why the Al-Qaeda-linked insurgency seeks to impose strict Islamic law in Sunni state carved out of parts of both Syria and central Iraq—a stated that ignores national political borders.
Currently, the only bright spot in Iraq—a region of relative calm and political stability—is the Kurdish Regional Government in the country’s northern border region. The ethnic Kurdish government, taking advantage of the instability in other parts of the country, has seized nearby lands abandoned by Iraqi government forces in what seems to be a move reflective of an intent to become more autonomous from Baghdad (these lands contain some of the country’s oil production resources). Kurdish stability seems to be the only non-tragic aspect of this chaos.
Finally, tragedy is the best way to describe accusations and finger-pointing toward President Obama being the “reason” for the devolving situation in Iraq…the same Obamawho voted against the invasion of Iraq as Senator Obama back in 2003. Tragedy is the denial by supporters of that action to accept complicity in the creation of this monster. Ultimately, Iraq is a Frankenstein that could have been avoided being created in the first place if we Americans were not so arrogant to believe that everyone in the world will great us with flowers, so ignorant of other (the divisions among) peoples in the world, and blinded of our own sometimes insanely-held ideologies and political alliances that we cannot accept responsibility for the problems we create.

Correction (06/16/14):

I stand corrected on the president’s voting record, but his opposition to the war has been documented on record before becoming either a Senator or the president (see, some of us can admit being wrong).



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