I’m not a big fan of discussing the news. I’d far rather wax lyrical about my mountain biking trips, my footballing skills (or lack of) or what a lovely holiday destination Yorkshire is, but I can’t very well ignore what’s going on in Iraq now can I? I’ll just get this off my chest and then get back to my usual routine.
It’s getting nasty. And it’s going to get nastier. The well-stated aim of the US/UK invasion is to liberate the Iraqi people from the rule of Saddam Hussein. This is not going to be an easy thing to do whatever tactics and technology you use. I can well understand why the Iraqi people would be mistrusting of the US. Try to look at it from the Iraqi on the ground’s point of view…
America stood by and watched while the Kurdish uprising was quashed by Hussein. After the 1991 war, the Iraqi people were abandoned by the international community and punished with heavy sanctions that left many to die from starvation and disease. The US support the Israeli regime who in turn are an enemy of the Arabic people. The US have let down the Iraqi people before and there’s no reason they won’t do it again. And all along Hussein and his men have been terrorising the people while feeding them anti-west propaganda. Right or wrong, you can understand their point of view. And with that much distrust going on, it’s always going to be a tough proposition to turn the people around. But not impossible.
Once the military objectives have been met by the coalition forces (as I have no doubt they will be), the question will be “what’s next”? The aid already flowing into Iraq is proof enough that the coalition’s intentions are good. They really do want to help the people of Iraq, the difficulty is that people will die before that can happen. Innocent people have already died and many more will before Hussein’s regime is destroyed. It’s extremely unfortunate, but it’s a fact of war. And it’s unavoidable. I just hope that the Iraqi military don’t use some of the more evil civilian shielding tactics when it gets to close quarters battle in the streets.
But I’m hopeful that, with the right approach, a peaceful long-term future can result. I stress though, if the right approach is taken. A few years ago I visited Lebanon for a couple of weeks. Anybody I’ve ever told about it has said words to the effect of “are you crazy? you could have been killed” and every time I’ve explained what it’s really like.
I grew up hearing about suicide bombings, hostage taking, civil war, Hezbollah and everything else that went on. But that’s in the past. There is peace. Okay, there are some dodgy areas (as there are in any country) but talking to the young people it’s hard to believe that just a few short years before there was all the bloodshed. It’s a multi-cultural society (Beirut was once referred to as the “Paris of the Middle East”) and the young people are exactly like those you meet in any modern country. And they didn’t let bitterness show (not that I mentioned Israel, however). It’s a fascinating country with some truly amazing sights and history, and it has survived conflict and occupation.
My hope is that Iraq can too. Should the US pull out of Iraq too soon or not take into account it’s neighbours or not put enough effort into rebuilding the infrastructure or not put a proper leadership in place, then the repercussions will be felt for many years to come. But do a good job and there’s no reason we can’t have a lasting peace. The trouble is that I don’t trust the US leadership either. And if I can’t, can the people of Iraq? I guess actions speak louder than words.