Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

May 31, 2006

Democratizing Violence

Almost 100 people killed and 120 wounded in Iraq the last two days, as bombings rocked several parts of Baghdad and surrounding areas. Among those killed were the two British crewmen with journalist Kimberly Dozier who herself was critically wounded.

[Side note: so much for Laura Ingraham's assertion that the media reports from hotel balconies. Perhaps Ms. Ingraham -- who became an expert on Iraqi reportage after being there all of eight days, a fact journalist Lara Logan justifiably scoffed at -- will be interested to know that Iraq is now the deadliest war for journalists, surpassing WWII, Korea and Vietnam.]

In the first five months of 2006 alone, 313 of our soldiers died, while 4,000+ Iraqis were killed and 4,500+ wounded. Yet in Bushworld, all of the death and carnage is largely a product of our tv screens as we "lay the foundations of victory" by "pursuing a forward strategy in the Middle East."

But is democracy the panacea for the region's ills that Bush claims it to be? Reality doesn't seem to support that contention.

As Andrew Sullivan noted, it's been a year since Cheney declared that the Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes, yet the Sunni-supported insurgency combined with the Shiite death squads are as strong as ever, with Baghdad still unsecured after three years and Ramadi now controlled by Al Qaeda. In fact, the Ramadi situation is so dire that a 3,500 armored brigade reinforcement is being sent there to quell the violence.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon doesn't see the insurgency waning until 2007, if at that, and noted that hardline factions of the minority Sunni sect are now collaborating with Al Qaeda.

Nir Rosen traces Iraq's descent into sectarian violence in more detail and makes an astute observation (emphasis mine):

Under the reign of Saddam Hussein, dissidents called Iraq "the republic of fear" and hoped it would end when Hussein was toppled. But the war, it turns out, has spread the fear democratically. Now the terror is not merely from the regime, or from U.S. troops, but from everybody, everywhere.

[...]

The world wonders if Iraq is on the brink of civil war, while Iraqis fear calling it one, knowing the fate such a description would portend. In truth, the civil war started long before Samarra and long before the first uprisings. It started when U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad. It began when Sunnis discovered what they had lost, and Shiites learned what they had gained. And the worst is yet to come.
Even Republican Senator Chuck Hagel acknowledges things look bad, as he observes that the strife is now spreading to the larger Middle East:

I think you could make a pretty strong case that things are worse off in the Middle East today than they were three years ago. By measurement of Iraq, by Iran, by the Palestinian-Israeli issue, what’s going on in Egypt.
This is not the first time the United States has attempted to export democracy with disastrous results, but Bush seems intent to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Rami G. Khouri provides a Middle Eastern perspective, as he confirms Iraq's ripple effect on the region and the folly of not looking back:

Three years after the assault on Iraq, the country is delicately balanced between a reconfigured democratic polity and an endless slide into hell. More troubling, though, is that events in Iraq are not a freak sideshow. The evidence suggests that Iraq mirrors a wider and troubling trend throughout this region that is being fostered by Bush, Blair and their freedom-loving friends, whether deliberately or inadvertently. Once stable Arab countries are slowly polarizing and fragmenting into smaller units of ethnic, religious and tribal identities, each with its own militia and contacts with Washington, London, Paris and other global power centers. Like it or not, failed states are an increasingly common outcome of Western meddling in the Middle East.

[...]

Have American and British policymakers forgotten that, even today, they are paying a bitter price for their intervention in Iran with the Mossadegh coup half a century ago? So now with the current Anglo-American misadventure in Iraq. Once again, they will leave behind an ugly and bloodied landscape—reminiscent of Lebanon in the dark days, where discredited central governments are overwhelmed by resurgent tribes, sects and militias that fight each other and the foreign intruder. Bush and Blair should consider this legacy, our violent societies in the Middle East, our shared future—and find a better way to do this modernity stuff so that it does not routinely kill our people, collapse our governments and shatter our societies.
Image: AP/Carolyn Kaster.

posted at 2:06 AM by Wonky Muse

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Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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