Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Maliki Dictatorship for Iraq?

Maliki appears to be drifting inexorably toward some kind of authoritarianism with his attacks on al-Hashimi, a Sunni vice president, and the parading of the guards “confessions” in front of the TV cameras. He may believe that with the Americans gone there is no one to stop him, but he should remember the long history of Iraqi governmental assassinations in the twenties and be wary of trying to cow his biggest bloc of opponents in Parliament. We would all hate to see democracy such as it is thrown away for the ego of one man, but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time, especially in Iraq. One can hope that Maliki is not getting the tyrant disease of paranoia, believing that all are against him, so he must crack down harshly on the nearest target. After all, he wanted the job he’s got now, and should remember that if he has friends in Iran, al-Hashimi also may have many more friends outside the country.

Was al-Hashimi really plotting against Maliki? What will happen to him if he is actually put behind bars? What effect would that have on the government. The Iraquyia bloc has already walked out of Parliament. Does Maliki really think he can go it alone, or is Maliki trying to give the US a reason to put some troops back in? After all, many of them will remain very near by. Of course, it’s useless to speculate. We really don’t know.

Here’s another question: Does any one know why Camp Victory was turned over to the American Embassy rather than to the Iraqis? Or was it? I saw a report in the NYT to that effect, I think, but I have also seen others saying it was handed over to Iraq. Who is running the tower at the Baghdad International Airport? Why aren’t we getting any of this on our news? My gut says something is being hidden, but it could be that the situation in North Korea has just wiped everything else of any of the pages of newspapers.

Out of Iraq?

So the last combat soldier crossed the border from Iraq to Kuwait this morning, sneaking out of Iraq in the dark of night. The “celebrations” have been muted, but things seem skewed. The media here is all about US costs and losses with secondary mentions of Iraqi costs and losses. Rather than celebrate anything, we Americans should be hanging our heads in shame that we allowed leaders drunk on hubris, ambition and greed to get us into Iraq in the first place and then allowed those leaders get off scot free. Nearly a trillion dollars spent for what? Millions of displaced, hundreds of thousands killed, massive infrastructure destruction with little or not effort to restore and rebuild, a country left without a reliable supply of fresh water, an adequate sewage system, practically non existent hospital care, a middle and upper class brain drain of enormous proportions, and a simmering insurgency, that’s America’s legacy to the Iraqis.

Another media “worry” is about the influence of Iraq’s neighbors on the “fledgling democracy”. There’s that bogeyman fear of Iran and what looks to the worriers like the possibility of a struggle between the conservative Sunni regimes in the neighborhood and Iran over influence in Iraq. Huh? Maliki may be Shia, but he’s also Iraqi Arab, not Persian, and he seems to be quite capable of taking care of himself and his country without bending to any. According to Gareth Porter, he was able to get his way with the status of forces agreement, manipulating both the Bush and Obama administrations out of the military insistence on complete freedom from Iraqi law that Bush-Cheney were sure they could get. He was smart enough to completely foil their Imperial project by playing on our exaggerated fears of al-Quaeda and Iran.

If we celebrate anything this holiday season, we should celebrate the fact that George’s shameful war is done. Iraq will now become a murky place, full of plots and schemes and dangers for the Americans who will hide in their white elephant of an embassy closing their eyes and ears to Iraqi life as lived in the real world by ordinary people. We owe the Iraqis for the infrastructure George destroyed, but we need more to listen to them on water, sewer and electricity projects, making them true partners in rebuilding their own country with tools and machines they can understand, maintain, and repair rather than doing those jobs “our way” resulting in show projects that inevitably become abandoned, as many already have.

America will want to forget and put the disastrous chapter of our history behind us, but the Iraqis will not forget, and one day they they may demand their due.

Note: I’ve been gone a lot lately. I’m going to put it down to not a lot to say, and too much other work. I should be back, at least for a few weeks here.