Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The election

OK, I have had a day to consider the gravity of the Iraqi election, and in my forays to Iraqi blogs, I have found that these people were deeply conflicted as to whether or not to participate. I direct you to thoughts04 to see Ahmed's inner dialogue before he decided to cast a vote. I sent along a comment telling him what I thought (a lot of American bloggers were trying to guilt him into it, a lot of comfortable Americans telling this man to risk his life to justify a war they encouraged) but I told him that I supported his decision and that even those of us who hate the war want a free Iraq. His response:

Cassandra,
Thank you very much for your letter and warm feeling.
When I decided to vote, I was thinking of nothing but my country and my fellow Iraqis who were going in crowds to vote despite the threats from terrorists to make it a bloody day.

Salam (peace in Arabic)

Ahmed


This sums it up- the day was not a triumph, but a beginning, something that empowered the Iraqis but they know better than anyone over here that the election ends nothing. It solves nothing. It is a step towards something, but not a solution of any kind.

Iraq is broken. Badly broken. Consider this- in Greeley, Colorado, a smallish rural city, they have had six gang-related incidences of violence in the last week. The economy in Colorado is lagging behind the already hurting economy of its surrounding states, and the ranching counties are hurting the worst. And this is nothing compared to what Iraq is going through. Chaos fosters chaos. Poverty fosters violence. Ahmed sees this every day. We see only what is chosen for us to see.

There are some good things going on in Iraq, but I think for the most part it is the reconstruction of what Americans and Insurgents have collectively destroyed, not an improvement on pre-invasion Iraq.

Charles Pierce got it right at the MSNBC blog, Altercation.

A few choice bits:
The people who stood in line Sunday did not stand in line to make Americans feel good about themselves.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to justify lies about Saddam and al-Qaeda, so you don't own their courage, Stephen Hayes. They did not stand in line to justify lies about weapons of mass destruction, or to justify the artful dodginess of Ahmad Chalabi, so you don't own their courage, Judith Miller. They did not stand in line to provide pretty pictures for vapid suits to fawn over, so you don't own their courage, Howard Fineman, and neither do you, Chris Matthews. [ . . . ]

They did not stand in line to justify a thousand mistakes that have led to more than a thousand American bodies. They did not stand in line for the purpose of being a national hypnotic for a nation not even their own. They did not stand in line for being the last casus belli standing. They did not stand in line on behalf of people's book deals, TV spots, honorarium checks, or tinpot celebrity. They did not stand in line to be anyone's talking points.

You do not own their courage.


I think I stand with most liberals when I say that I believe that the war was wrong, and that everyone who uttered a lie to cause the war should be punished to the fullest extent of the law and of history's unkind memory. But we are there now. For the sake of the troops and for the sake of the Iraqis whose nation we have plundered and destroyed, we need to get the nation of Iraq working again. We need to give them their freedom, and I hope they use their freedom to kick us out as soon as possible.

Liberals do not want to see us fail over there. We simply have more of a cynical feeling that the entire war and all of its convoluted rationale were doomed from the beginning. We will be happy if it succeeds but not surprised if it continues to have problems. We are there. We have to deal with this. We have to get out as soon as possible. We have to keep people like Ahmed in our minds every day.

Salaam . . .

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