Unanswered questions challenge American perceptions in Iraq
By Ray Hanania — Let’s just start by saying the war in Iraq is anything but what President Bush promised us when he ordered its invasion and missed real opportunities to destroy al-Qaeda in Pakistan. Lies got us to Iraq. Lies are keeping us there. And lies are driving the new drumbeats to expand the failed American war in Iraq into other oil rich nations, like Iran.I don’t expect Americans to come to their senses and prevent their government from making another tragic mistake. We should never have invaded Iraq, but Bush lied to us so convincingly about the weapons of mass destruction, the nuclear capabilities and the so-called poison gas stockpiles.They just were not there, even though former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld may have thought he provided all those weapons to Saddam Hussein when Saddam and Donald were partners in the war against Iran in the 1980s.Bush told us he wanted to bring Democracy to the Middle East, but the truth is the Middle East is not America or the West and instead is driven by sectarian divisions that separate people not based on issues but on religious belief.
Sunnis vote for other Sunnis. Shi’ites vote for other Shi’ites. Kurds vote for Kurds and everyone else votes for their own kind. The only way to keep the rival religious groups from battling was to have a strong-arm dictator who imposed an order, albeit brutal and oppressive.
But Saddam’s brutal and oppressive policies were similar to the brutal and oppressive policies of all of Iraq’s neighboring countries in the Middle East. In reality, all Arab countries allow their citizens to freely denounce Israel, but not their governments, their leaders, their kings, their monarchs, their tyrants, their societal ills like the under reported honor killings, nor the continued oppression of women and other minority groups.
Americans, however, simply jumped into Iraq, enraged over the suicide hijackings of four commercial jets by 19 Arabs, including 15 Saudi Arabians, masterminded by Osama Bin Laden, an upstart son of a Saudi family that has close ties to the Bush family.
But Iraq did invade another Sunni Arab country, which had loads of oil destined for the United States, and another Sunni Arab country with American destined oil, Saudi Arabia.
Invading Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11, 2001. But that is hard to convince the blind volunteers who believe their enlistment is a part of the war on terrorism that began on that horrendous morning in New York City.
Forget about facts. Forget about truth. Forget about selfish interests.
Here we are in Iraq, barely able to survive. Unable to send the proper number of soldiers to fight the war because though Americans championed the war, they did not want to fight it with their children.
It’s fought by those pumped up into hysteria to volunteer and sacrifice. We have to contract at a cost of more than $1 billion a private army of mercenaries who have political ties to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, a backwoods Tennessee militia called Blackwater that fills in the cracks, sometimes with murdered Iraqi civilians.
But contractors like Blackwater are beyond even American justice. They can neither be prosecuted by the United States, by the U.S. Military nor by the Iraqi government which tried to expel them but was trumped by a policy veto from President Bush.
Today, Iraq is partitioned into three regions, in almost the same manner that the Western countries partition the Middle East after World War I causing most of today’s political turmoil. In the north is the Kurdish region. In the center is the Sunni region. To the south is the Shi’ite region.
That’s or Plan B for Democracy. Make it look Democratic.
But the violence has not stopped. Ironically, although Kurds have been given leadership positions in the American-controlled Iraqi government, the Kurds in the north have come under attack from another American despot ally, Turkey. Turkey has a large population of Kurds who have long sought independence from Turkish oppression and are seeking to unite with Iraq’s Kurds to form their own nation.
Although Shi’ites and Sunnis are battling amongst themselves and against each other, the real insurgency facing our soldiers in Iraq comes not from Shi’ites but from Sunnis.
That again raises another red flag that most Americans don’t want to see. Facts have a habit of undermining the American government’s holier-than-thou policies: if the real problem is Sunni backed insurgents, why is the White House focused on demonizing Iran, a Shi’ite nation?
Sunnis dominate Iraq, Bahrain and Iran and Iran is considered the most powerful of the three nations. The remaining 19 Arab countries are Sunni, including America’s highly funded Arab allies, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Where are the Sunni’s getting their weapons to make the IEDs that are killing our soldiers? From the Iranian Shi’ites? Unlikely.
It is true that al-Qaeda has grown in strength ever since we deposed Saddam Hussein. Turns out he was an obstacle to al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda terrorists are all Sunni Arabs, not Shi’ites. But what possible benefit can there be in “knowledge?”
The real answer would be embarrassing to our military policies in Iraq and our wartime rhetoric.
So we demonize Iran, not because Iran is really threatening Americans, but because they are an easy target. Expanding the war from Iraq into Iran would help explain why American soldiers can’t win, and it might even set the stage for the drafting of young men that must happen if we intended to continue fighting in Iraq for the 10 years now predicted by Republicans and Democrats.
But you can’t explain this to Americans who are the most educated people in the world. Tragically, they are also the least educated about the world, especially the world of Middle East politics.