I've gotten a few comments, not many, but a few which fully blame the Iraqi people for what is happening here today, considering them endemically violent, blood-thirsty, backwards people. In fact, one of the worst comments I got was when I compared the situation after Hurricane Katrina to that in Iraq, "Arab behavior is completely unconscionable in Western eyes. Arabs are subhuman."
I know many people are confused about why this craziness is only happening here in Iraq, even Iraqis themselves. One of my cousins in law, who was born and raised here in Baghdad, and has lived here all her life always says, "This is happening to us because 'ihna ma khuush 'awaadim (we Iraqis are not good people)".
But I was reminded by one of our good neighbors, whose wise words always interest my husband and I, of what is really happening here. During one of our visits to the family of our kidnapped neighbors, he was trying to lighten their parents' mood. He said, "What is happening in Iraq today is plain and simple, it's hysteria. There's no other way to describe the craziness here. You can't have a nation of people go through more than thirty years of war, tyranny and embargoes, and then act normally when they are given 'freedom.' What is happening today is a state of mass hysteria. Unexplainable any other way."
He went on to say, "But throughout Iraqi history, whenever we thought we were nearing the bottom, relief would come. During the war against Iran, when we thought we would be invaded, the war ended. During the '91 bombing by the Americans and their allies, when we thought we'd be buried alive, the war ended. And today, when we've reached such a point of dreariness, hopefully relief is near." I hope your words are right, Dr. A.
Its important for the world to realize that Iraqis have been through so much, and that what is happening here today is not because they are inherently violent. I leave you with another of the insightful comments I received, a good summary of the problem here, and a look into possible solutions for the problem:
1. Regarding Iraq, please note that Iraqi society is one composed of 3-4 distinct generations of people. These generations generally were born between the periods of 1945-1990. If you take a look at Iraq's history spanning these dates you will notice that the society has undergone one violent revolution after another. It did not have a quiet period of development save maybe the mid 1970's when Iraq was heading toward a period of great prosperity, then Saddam attacked Iran, and that war persisted until 1988 two years later he invaded Kuwait the result of which was a decade of crippling sanctions and hardship on Iraqi society. The point I am trying to reach is that these generations know nothing but violence, revolution, hardship, and warfare. It cannot be expected that they somehow turn a new leaf and simply embrace democracy forgetting their encumbrances.
2. Those advising the US during the 1990s and towards the buildup to the war were people who had been living outside of Iraq for decades and had no idea about the reality of Iraqi society and its social fabric. They convinced the Administration of certain false premises which led to the unrecoverable policy mistakes and eventually the bad situation we are in today.
3. To say that not enough people are speaking up against militias is to truly not understand the dangers that these militias pose to civilians in Iraq. To cite an example, during the past elections one of my friends voted for the Shia religious list even though I know he is secular, when I asked him why he said that if he did not do it he would be divorced forcefully from his wife and would be excommunicated. On another occasion right in front of me, a member of parliament threatened an Iraqi Brigadier General with militia retribution. It is in the interest of the religious parties to not have a reconcilition or they will lose their basic support.
And from another comment:
...With all of that in mind, how do you resolve this problem? I believe it will take a few bold steps:
1. Close the border with Iran and Syria and literally threaten Iran with extreme military retaliation if the situation in Iraq does not improve.
2. Clamp down militarily on the most problematic militia (Jaysh Al-Mehdi) kill or arrest the field commanders and senior leadership. Once that happens the other militias will take heed. This will require US and Iraqi lives but it must happen.
3. Change the present government. The problem is when parties are above the law because of their militias they are not prone to compromise, force them to when they no longer have their militias and Iraq will be a different place today.
4. Threaten immediate US withdrawal and the parties will all compromise because the Sunnis have more to gain from a civil war than the Shia do.
5. Give Sunnis a reason to go against Alqaeda and other extremists. Presently they are seen as the only solution to US and Shia agression against them.
6. Change the posture in Anbar, let the Sunnis feel that the US is not against them.