Friday, June 15, 2007

So Now...It's the Iraqis' Fault ?

It's the Iraqis Fault! That's been the talking point now on both the Democratic and Republican side of the aisle, wrapped up in nice terms like "benchmarks." Vice President Dick Cheney flies off to Iraq to wag his finger scoldingly at the semi-puppet regime in Baghdad. "We've given the Iraqis freedom and what do they do with it?" asks Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) says we have to "hold the Iraqis accountable." The way the story is spun, Iraq was done a tremendous favor by America's illegal invasion to depose Saddam Hussein (one must assume there was also a favor back in the 1980s when the U.S. actively supported Saddam Hussein), and now the ungrateful wretches are bickering amongst themselves and biting the hands of their generous benefactors with a relentless insurgency. The White Man's Burden ain't been heavier...

I touched on this blame shifting tactic in a previous article:

A few words on benchmarks. This has become the darling term of both Democrats and Republicans—certain achievements placed on the Iraqi government threatening them with an American withdrawal if these goals are not met. Now the Iraqis are the ones who are blamed for the mess in Iraq. They are told to reconcile their differences peacefully, while the U.S. and its so-called “coalition” drop laser-guided bombs and “whiskey pete” to solve their differences. The Iraqis are told to get their government in order and include the Sunnis—when it was the U.S., under its gubernator overlord Paul Bremer, who instituted the inane Baathist purge. The Iraqis have to take back their country from insurgents, when it was the U.S. President who bravely declared from several thousand miles away "bring 'em on," and decided to use their country as a battle ground--"fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here." The Iraqis have to train their new army, when it was the U.S. that disbanded the old one—allowing them to take their guns with them. The Iraqis now have to sign away their oil in imbalanced policies to pay for the rebuilding of their country—the one the U.S. destroyed. The emerging “civil war” that now flares up around the country is the fault of the “ungrateful” Iraqis, and somehow those that unleashed those horrendous forces get to escape responsibility and point out that at least they got rid of their one-time ally Saddam Hussein.

Near 3000 Iraqis die a month. Perhaps over 600,000 have died since the war began. Their country is shattered. Their various ethnic groups have been set against each other. Car-bombings—non-existent before—are now everyday occurrences there. And they remain an occupied state in the midst of an endless war zone. Yet they, who are bearing the brunt of the U.S.’s misguided necon policies, are the ones who are being told to "take some responsibility." There’s something inherently wrongheaded about that entire line of thinking. Basically, after an illegal invasion that broke their country and set it into chaos, the United States is now saying—“hey get your act together or we won’t do you any MORE favors!”

Sorry Iraqis, take it from those of us in the know, America ain't big on owning up to its responsibilities much less implementing "reparations." Expect to be left holding the bag while we engage in bouts of selective amnesia into the role we played in bringing the present into being.

Well, it's good to know I wasn't the only one who thought this entire line of reasoning was off-kilter. But I had to go all the way to France to find out--or rather the good people at went to France for me.

From Now on, According to Americans, Everything "Is the Iraqis' Fault"

By Guillemette Faure
Rue 89

Wednesday 06 June 2007

"The Iraqis did not seize the opportunity they were presented." That's what Hillary Clinton said Sunday night during the Democratic debate. She explained that the American troops had fulfilled their mission. "They've overthrown Saddam and given them elections." And look what the Iraqis did with that ...

This is not the first time that Hillary has made the Iraqis responsible for the debacle in Iraq. Last summer at a conference at the Council of Foreign Relations, she accused the Iraqi government of "holding American credibility hostage." According to her, it was time to explain that, "American forces would not always be there to accommodate their refusal."

Has Hillary got chutzpah? She's not alone. To be able to justify a withdrawal without having to acknowledge an American defeat, Democrats and Republicans are now in agreement to blame the Iraqis. This way, the Republicans emphasize that it's not their policy that's in question; the Democrats avoid bearing the bad news of an American defeat and looking like a party of losers by demanding a departure from Iraq. And for Democrats who - like Senator Clinton - voted in favor of the war, the maneuver allows them not to have to reconsider their vote.

The tendency can be observed across the complete political spectrum from President Bush, who first mentioned that "[his] patience has limits" to Barbara Boxer, the very progressive senator from California who declared in November: "We've given the Iraqis freedom and what do they do with it? They kill each other ..." This type of discourse describes the Iraqis as adapting rather well to the present situation, as when Donald Rumsfeld wrote in a memo to the president before his resignation that a slight American military disengagement would push the Iraqis "to pull their socks up."

In the Senate, when Congress tried to obtain a schedule of withdrawal from Iraq, Democrat Carl Levin explained that it was, "time for Congress to explain to Iraqis that it's their country." A schedule of departure from Iraq would send "a good dose of reality to Iraqi leaders." So on what cloud are they living then, these Iraqis ...

Listen to the discourse of all the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates and you'll hear the same thing: we did what we could in Iraq, but the Iraqis are not good enough. "Enough coddling! Enough vacillating!" even expostulated Barack Obama last year.

It was even, indirectly, the exit strategy proposed by the nonetheless celebrated Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group: to condition American aid on goals the Iraqi government is supposed to reach, which, assuming that the goals would be unattainable, would then allow the Americans to leave with their heads held high. A strategy Zbigniew Bzrezinski has summarized as "blame and leave."

Democrats and Republicans should have read what well-known military analyst Anthony Cordesman explained as early as last November to Time magazine as he felt this tendency rising: "When someone lets an elephant loose in a china shop, you don't blame the china shop for the broken dishes."


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