Iraq better before than now: a pet peeve

December 21, 2006 at 4:59 pm (History, Idiots, Iraq, Shiite Islam, US Government, World War III)

In the comment thread for “We’re not winning in Iraq?” by geoff of Uncommon Misconceptions, a person named Jerry Chandler said:

Never mind that before the U.S. invaded Iraq that the Sunnis and
Shiites were living in relative Peace even to the point of inter-
marrying, just like Catholics and Protestants. What Dubya should
have done was gone in to Iraq, took out Saddam, arrested him
and charged him with crimes against humanity in the International
It is my fondest hope that one of the first items on the Democratic
agenda should be the impeachment of both Dubya and Cheney.
Buy the way, feel free to publish my e-mail address. Since I don’t
have an official web-site and I’d like to continue this discussion
Jerry Chandler
Omaha ne

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people mischaracterize the situation in Iraq prior to its liberation in such a way as to suggest or explicitly claim that the liberation thereof resulted in an Iraq far worse off than it was under Saddam Hussein and his regime.

First, I would like to ask: which Sunnis and which Shiites? The world over, intermarriage between Sunnis and Shiites is quite rare. Although characterizing the theological divide as that between Catholics and Protestants has its merits, it does not reflect the communal differences and divide between Sunnis and Shiites that exist in reality, and that existed between Catholics and Protestants. It is now quite common for Protestants (and other non-Catholics) to attend Catholic services (evidence of which is the number of people who remain in the pews while Catholics go up to take communion), but to this day it is very rare for Sunnis to pray with Shiites or vice versa.

These aspects are practically universal in the Muslim world. That is: Sunnis and Shiites remain divided theologically as well as communally throughout the world. So if someone says that the Sunnis and Shiites of Iraq are intermarrying, I must ask for evidence and for more information. Where? Who? When? Why?

It would not be surprising, for example, if some Sunnis in predominantly Shiite areas intermarried with Shiites, or if correspondingly some Shiites in predominantly Sunni areas intermarried with Sunnis. Such instances are quite common and to be expected regardless of what ethnic or communal or religious identification one is speaking about.

But if Sunnis in predominantly Sunni areas are intermarrying with Shiites in predominantly Shiite areas – that is cause for special remark. For this, I need to see the facts.

Furthermore, such a comment as to intermarrying utterly ignores the situation under which Shiites and Kurds were living.

Recall – that Saddam Hussein’s regime used weapons of mass destruction against Shiites and Kurds.

Recall – that Saddam Hussein’s regime kept the Shiites and Kurds in check through political and military intimidation.

Recall – that Saddam Hussein’s regime disenfranchized for all practical purposes the Shiites and Kurds.

Recall – that in order for Shiites and Kurds to remain safe from Saddam Hussein’s regime The United States, The United Kingdom, and other foreign forces had to impose special zones that deprived Saddam Hussein’s regime any intimidating authority by air against Shiites and Kurds.

Recall – that Shiites were forbidden to commemorate ‛Ashūrah, the most sacred of all Shiite observances and commemorations: this meant that Shiites could not conduct their commemoration rituals and that they could not visit their sacred sites to commemorate ‛Ashūrah.

Recall – that Saddam Hussein’s regime forbade Shiites from anywhere in the world to congregate in the most sacred of Shiite sites: Karbalā’ and Najaf. In essence, these sacred Shiite sites were under occupation of a Sunni regime. For decades, their sacred sites were under the occupation of a hostile regime.

Recall – that Saddam Hussein’s regime imposed a totalitarian rule of a minority — the Sunnis — over significant majority populations — the Shiites and Kurds.

Recall – that as in the Soviet Union, the only clerics that could exist, especially among the Shiites, were those who had given in and commanded obedience to Saddam Hussein’s regime. (Now, all sorts of clerics everywhere flourish. There are the freedoms of expression, belief, and assembly.)

I will grant that there was some stability in Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s regime. I am not ignorant of the horrible conditions that prevail in some areas in Iraq. But that’s exactly the point: some areas. Whereas we should not belittle the suffering of any area of Iraq nor should we belittle the sacrifices being made every single day by brave American, English, other foreign, and Iraqi people — may God grant them eternal rest, and may He comfort those who mourn — this conflagration is not one that has erupted in or enveloped the entire country. Certain areas, which have always been hot spots anyway, are experiencing these pangs of the birth of a democratic system. Just as it would be irresponsible to say everything is okay in Iraq, it would be utterly irresponsible to allege that all of Iraq is a bloody battlefield. And, frankly, I am quite irate with the Legacy Media for perpetuating this image, especially by not focusing sufficiently on the progress Iraq is making; and I am irate at people who perpetuate this meme (I suppose it is), whom I believe are ignorant if not deliberately misleading; and I am irate at President Bush and his administration for not challenging such critics and for not publicizing the progress being made in Iraq.

But notice that in my above points I have been mentioning and talking about Saddam Hussein’s regime and not solely about Saddam Hussein. The totalitarian regime in Iraq was not solely the work of one man but of various groups, tribes, and entities cooperating with the strongman Saddam in imposing their rule, authority, power, and hegemony. Removing Saddam Hussein would not have been enough. Uday or Qusay could have taken over, or another Sunni general. The only solution was to remove the entire regime and establish a completely new system.

I refuse to believe, as some allege, that The United States were ignorant of the difficulties of such an endeavor. Not once has President Bush mentioned that the liberation of Iraq and of its stabilization thereafter would be easy, swift, quick, without sacrifice, or otherwise a walk in the park, so to speak. It would be a walk through a minefield. I frankly hold any such allegation that the government waltzed in, ignorant of the difficulties, as either complete misunderstanding or blatant lies. President Bush and his administration have been pretty clear from the beginning as to the large amount of difficulties and complexities that is inherent in this endeavor.

I, furthermore, completely and absolutely refuse to accept any argument that Iraq was better before its liberation — in essence, that The United States plunged Iraq into a nightmare to which not even Iraq under Saddam Hussein and/or his regime could compare — for any such argument is either idiocy, ignorance, misunderstanding, or, again, blatant lies.

I would like to end my somewhat rant of a post by quoting geoff‘s response to Jerry Chandler:

The draconian measures it took for Saddam to force Sunnis and Shiites to live in peace are nothing to look back upon fondly. His horrific crimes against the Shiites and elevation of the Sunnis were despicable. It is amusing that the latest liberal meme is that everything was dandy until we intervened. Back in March the meme was: “even a fool should have known that these sects would be at each others’ throats.”

It’d be nice if y’all stuck to one story.

Very well said. And much more succinctly, too.


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