July 08, 2003

There's Just No Pleasing Some People

So, let me see if I understand this: prior to the war in Iraq, protesters maintained that the U.S. wasn't interested in rebuilding Iraq, only oil. Now they're upset because we're keeping our troops there to rebuild Iraq? Make up your freakin' mind!

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the term "quagmire" was invoked. After all, here we are about three months into the rebuilding effort and Iraq, strangely enough, hasn't become the next Japan. Throw into the mix the occasional AK-47 or RPG pot shot at our troops, and you simply have to conclude that this is the next Vietnam, only with more sand.

Since when does rebuilding a nation have a timetable? And since when is it expected that, because the actual war is considered over, no further casualties should occur? Hell, this is a civilian population that deems it customary to shoot AK-47 rounds into the air during weddings. They're like the NRA on speed. Everyone and their newborn half-cousin has a rifle laying around somewhere. It's only expected that some disgruntled Saddam loyalists will decide to attack U.S. troops here and there. Am I the only person not surprised by this?

But, according to the nearest anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-everything-but-tofu-and-Robert Fisk individual, all these problems are indicative of an Iraqi population that wants all Americans dead and Saddam back in power, you know, because he was such a nice guy and he managed to keep power up and running for, at least, 18 hours on any given day rather than the paltry eight or so the Americans can provide.

Listen, I know that our presence in Iraq isn't all that popular with the Iraqis. After all, we did invade them and bomb them and make them cower in the corner praying for their lives and all as the jets flew over. War is a bitch like that. However, I don't think the attacks on our troops represent coordinated attacks by the Iraqi population as a whole. If that were the case, our troops wouldn't have a chance. They'd be huddled in their Humvees as angry Iraqi crowds swarmed over them. But, that's not happening. By and large, they are giving us the time we need to fix the shit we broke and make better the land that Saddam ravaged with his meglomaniacal regime.

True, things could be going better. Things could always be going better. Truthfully, though, I don't think the planners that envisioned the grand rebuilding design really took into account the culture of the people. This is the Middle East, after all, an area of the world so fascinated with hatred of the Jews and Americans, it's practically an undeclared sport.

I know, I know, we're supposed to speak highly of the Islamic faith. Fine. Yay Islam! Go Muslims! Allahu Akbar and all that. But, there's Islam, the faith of tolerance, and then there's Islam, the faith that stapled an extra chapter to the Koran that advocates the killing of all Jews and calls for jihad against every infidel that looks at you funny. That brand of Islam seems to have tendrils snaking throughout most of the Middle East. Syria. Iraq. Iran. Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan. You name it. These are nations that feature fanatical mullahs who wave scimitars and call for the beheading of Zionists and those who support them (i.e. the U.S.). When was the last time you saw the a Cardinal or bishop slicing the air to augment a hate-filled diatribe?

The point is, the Middle East sucks, to put it as succinctly as possible. And we've let it suck for years because letting the Middle East suck, quite simply, seemed better than taking any action. It's true, the West hasn't been particularly proactive in getting the Middle East to suck less. We've connived and slithered behind the scenes, making deals to ensure an unimpeded flow of oil, and backing distasteful regimes in the hopes that they'd destroy another distasteful regime. Our hands aren't clean on this one. But since when does past guilt preclude one from trying to rectify things? The problem is, we're trying to rectify things a little late in the game. The Middle East has had plenty of time to build up distrust and hate.

So, they seethed, and they hated, and they grew long beards, and they sat on their asses listening to the dictates of sword-weilding mullahs. The end result is the current stagnant cesspool of no creativity and no innovation. Think about it. Besides oil, name a major export of the Middle East. The greatest minds of the Middle East tend to high tail it out of the area, which is a sign of a great mind. The rest of the folks just kind of sit in a state of limbo, many of them unable to think for themselves any more. They expect others to tell them what to do rather than doing things for themselves. Somewhere along the way, someone told some of them to fly airplanes into buildings and strap bombs on themselves and blow themselves up. And they listened.

That's why this rebuilding effort in Iraq is so important. That's why it's worth all the sweat and blood and violence. That's why I'm willing to give the U.S. all the time it needs to get the country up and running again. Ultimately, if we can get the Iraqis to think for themselves, to act for themselves, to look beyond the shit their lives are now to a more prosperous future where they actually have a voice that matters, to open their eyes to hope rather than hate, then it's all been worth it. More than worth it.

It's a long shot. And it could fail. And the upcoming months won't be pretty. But, we have to try, because it's just too dangerous to allow the Middle East to suck any more.

Bring 'em on.

Posted by Ryan at July 8, 2003 11:16 AM
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