jumping into the jihad
So much for bringing peace and democracy - it now appears that when Iraqi rebels call for jihad or holy war, the American occupation forces are more than willing to jump in to make more matyrs and inflame ordinary Iraqi people to greater resistance. How long will it take for the US (and its sideshow supporters) to get it - the best way to appease terrorists is to give them the "clash of civilizations" which they are after. The terrorists are ready to rumble, and by stepping into the ring, the "coalition of the willing" has played itself right into the fundamentalist rhetoric of a violent, domineering West, which will do anything (including bombing mosques, writing off civilian deaths as "collateral damage" and throwing away its own basic rules of law and human rights safeguards) to punish those who threaten its authority.
Yes, Iraq will need a lot of help to rebuilt itself and to forge a government that reflects the diversity and the will of its people and to maintain peace while these processes occur. And the US and its invasion buddies should certainly chip in to pay to repair the damage which their invasion has caused. Similarly, some kind of truth and reconciliation commission is required to settle the history of human suffering caused by Saddam Hussein's fallen regime. But the last eleven months have shown that the US occupation forces are woefully unable to get on with the job of reconstruction for three big reasons. Firstly, as far as some Iraqis are concerned, the war against the occupying force isn't over yet, and it won't be until the US flag and forces get packed up and taken off Iraqi soil. Until then, any Iraqis or international diplomats who cooperate with the US led reconstruction will be targeted as allies of the invaders. It is unfair, and bloody, but it makes sense for those trapped in the logic of war. By jumping into the jihad, and pledging to "destroy" all those involved in armed resistance, the US forces are only fulfilling fundamentalist perceptions of them as violent imperialists, and destroying any credibility they may have had as "liberators" or Iraq.
Whatever reconstruction and democratisation must be done by a neutral international force, which is able to quickly gain the trust of the Iraqi people. The US occupation forces do not have that trust - which brings me to reason number two. The US forces are widely perceived to have mixed motives in occupying Iraq, and there is good grounds to believe that they do in fact have other objectives in mind other than just the welfare of the Iraqi people. Oil, the "war on terror", domestic politics, and wider political aspirations (ie the "new american century" of US global leadership proposed by the neo-cons ) all cloud any US efforts to repair Iraq.
Thirdly, the suspicions aroused by these apparent US ulterior motives in Iraq are compounded by the mismatch between the US rhetoric of "liberation and democratisation" and the reality of US action in Iraq. Shutting down newspapers which disagree with them? Transferring power to their own hand picked "chief executive", rather than to an Iraqi parliament? Seemingly only considering men for the top jobs? Manipulating elections to ensure that the "right balance" of people are elected? This wouldn't pass as "democracy" in a country which had elected its administration, let alone in a country where these actions are imposed by an invasion force. Who is being fooled here? Even Forest Gump would know that "democracy is as democracy does". Comparisons with Saddam Hussein are irrelevant here: the fact that the Iraqi people have put up with years of despotic rule does not mean that somehow they should now be satisfied with faux democracy and the press censorship, military occupation force and US puppet government that goes with it.
If the US and its coalition are serious about "liberating" Iraq, let's see them put their money where their guns are, and foot the reconstruction bill, while letting a neutral international peacekeeping force get on with the job of facilitating democratic government in partnership with the Iraqi people.