November 16, 2003

Occupiers or Liberators?


Had a chance to meet and speak with a couple of Marine's just back from eye-rak (if you spend 6 months anywhere, I think you owe it to the people of that region or country to at least learn the proper name of their land). Anyhow, these young men and their friends, almost exclusively from poor and/or minority backgrounds, are a rather interesting bunch. I'll leave my judgment on the U.S. military, recruitment strategy and mindset bestowed upon their soldiers for a different time, but one amazing factor was their attitude towards Iraq and Iraqis. In short, I can tell you this much; these guys certainly see themselves as occupiers and not liberators.

In all the conversations, it was clear that they see their mission (and they all are expecting to be called back sometime very soon) as not liberating these people who needed help getting rid of their dictator ruler, but as a superior military force occupying enemy territory. In other words, the enemy was not Saddam or Ba'athist or Al-Qaeda, it was Iraq and Iraqis.

This made me come home and look for images of the occupying force and the same signals are everywhere. The image above is an example and I stress again, there are plenty of other samples but this is just one of a bunch. Published today on Yahoo News, the caption for this image reads:

U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division Spc. Lowary Rick Terry holds a machine gun mounted on a Humvee beside a stone image of the face of former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein which has been painted over with a US. flag and the name of the American forward operating base, Omaha, outside Tikrit, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2003. (Efrem Lukatsky)

What is described as "a US flag" is actually the map of Iraq, covered with the stars and stripes. Correct me if I'm wrong, shouldn't the "liberators" be happy to turn the country back to its people and therefore have an Iraqi flag covering their own homeland? Doesn't this show the occupying mindset, as covering Saddam's statue with a flag exclusively flown in from NYC also demonstrated? You can turn over the administration parts to Iraqis all you want (watch for Ahmad to become more and more prominent, it's time to install a puppet as Hamid was installed in Afghanistan), as long as you are playing the role of occupiers, you are indeed occupiers.

Posted by Pedram at November 16, 2003 08:09 PM

During the past eighteen months I have been traveling to U.A.E half a dozen times for various business purposes. I have been meeting Arab businessmen, professionals as well as university graduates and intellectuals. The following summary of their collective assessment is their thinking and not mine.

• Unlike the good old days, there is now a complete breakdown of unity and relations between the house of Saud and the Wahabi religious establishment.
• The U.S (neo-cons) plans to deal with Saudi Arabia in no uncertain terms without any regards in preserving the House of Saud.
• To do this, they must first secure the region and the Iraqi oil flow and then do whatever they want with Saudi Arabia. Hence the occupation of Iraq.

By the way, I was hearing this before Iraq was actually invaded.

Posted by: Azari at November 17, 2003 04:43 AM

just a quick note on:
"I think you owe it to the people of that region or country to at least learn the proper name of their land."

who says Eye-rak is the wrong pronounciation or E-rak is the right one? none is the name of the country as is pronounced by natives from that country. do persian (farsi) speakers pronounce the name of the following countries properly?
England, Scotland, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Russia, and else

what is the proper way of pronouncing names from a linguistic perspective?

generally i think it's not a big deal to say i-ran or eye-ran.

Posted by: WhoMan at November 17, 2003 06:01 AM

Yes, we are occupying Iraq (or Eye-rak if you like). What's your point? As I've said elsewhere, democracy in Iraq is about as likely as integration in the Ku Klux Klan. Those folks have lived under absolute autocracy since ancient Sumer 10,000 years ago. The question is not "Is there going to be a strongman running Iraq" but "What kind of strongman is going to be running Iraq." I'd prefer to see one that supports our interests. And think about it, can any dictator we install be worse than Saddam?

Posted by: regressive at November 17, 2003 07:01 AM

Hell, for all the bitching that goes on, the anger that is directed toward the U.S. for ending those human rights abuses, for all the crap that we take for having dealt with a government so obviously evil that even the U.N. for a decade punished it, I say we did the right thing, and precious few had the balls to stand with us.

Had the U.N. been willing to stand by its words, had Egypt, or other major Arab country been willing to say no to rape and torture, we'd have Moslem partners in this thing and be making a better life for Iraqis a lot faster. We asked, they declined.

It was (and still is) more important to be anti-U.S. than stop the rape of a people. And still it is more important to be anti-U.S. than help stabilize and rebuild Iraq.

We did the right thing, and like the Gulf War, we did it with a few key allies. It took the U.S. and Britain (and a handful of others) to liberate a Moslem country invaded by Saddam. And it took the U.S. to stop Saddam from his depradations of a nation.

Trust me on this, no one here wants to lose daughters and sons for the ungrateful, and we'd like nothing better than for them to come home having successfully helped Iraqis have a free country, a job that needed doing.

Posted by: stephen at November 17, 2003 08:02 AM

A couple of blogs written by citizens of Iraq living in Baghdad - for some perspective:

Posted by: Kristen at November 17, 2003 12:32 PM

"citizens of Iraq living in Baghdad" who not only have phone connections, electricity and access to personal computers, but also internet access! sounds more like citizens of Ahmad Chalabi's version of Baghdad. How easily we are fooled!

Posted by: Kris at November 17, 2003 12:41 PM

For more "perspective", here's Iraqis celebrating on top of U.S. military vehicles hit by rockets:,217.shtml

Posted by: Kris at November 17, 2003 12:46 PM

A photo of 8 year old children (and younger) dancing on a US military vehicle? I'm sure 8 year olds in that country have about as much grasp of the political situation in their country as 8 year olds do in the US or anywhere else for that matter.

Posted by: Kristen at November 17, 2003 02:00 PM

Does anyone know where Salam Pax is blogging from? Inside or outside Iraq?

Posted by: Kristen at November 17, 2003 02:08 PM

I saw a TV footage showing an Iraqi couple that had lost eight of their children and most of their village to a multitude of cluster bombs. Even as a father of three I could not imagine what they must have been feeling. One minute they had eight happy souls as the fruits of their lives, the next minute, none. And the horror of witnessing their shredded flesh in front of their own eyes. The youngest an infant and the oldest a teenager. shut yourself out of your own self serving opinion, close your eyes and try to imagine it for a few seconds,

And the same goes for American parents who may not even have the comfort or closure of burying their only son.

Regardless of were we were born, it would be a sad day to our own humanity when we so readily accept and condone one form of killing to justify another.

Particularly when the entire world sees the hypocrisy of it all. No one was trying to help the Iraqi people when the previous administrations provided Sadam with chemical weapons and gave him the green light to drop it across the border . No one was trying to help the Iraqi people when they began to use WMD - which they themselves admit does not exist anymore- as an excuse for their own agenda. No one is trying to help the Iraqi people when the regional companies are not even allowed to tender for such projects as the Mobile phone systems and instead giving it to their own cronies that have decided to implement a non-GSM system, utterly and totally useless and incompatible with the rest of the region. I can go on till the cows come home if you will but what is the point. I am an eyeranian and I therefore MUST be U.S bashing.

Isn’t it possible to realize that a regime is a regime is a regime. Be it a ruthless Islamic regime like the one we have in the cloak of a Mullah and bent on sucking the blood of the nation in every sense of the word or a bunch of sharp shooter Texans who……………..

There are too many words to describe them and out of respect to you, who disagree with me and others like me, I let history to fill in the blanks.

When the (previous) Prime Minister of Malaysia said this was Israel’s proxy war too. As usual he was accused of being anti Semitic but no one has come forward and said why he is wrong.

look what I have started now !

Posted by: AZARI at November 17, 2003 02:26 PM

Here's a bunch of adults with better grasp of the political situation in their country celebrating another attack on U.S. military. They sure look like they are very happy their country has been occupied. Or maybe these are all just "insurgants" and the real Iraqis are mourning at home and praising the occupiers on their weblogs:

Posted by: NoBody at November 17, 2003 06:20 PM

I did not support this war in the first place, but it seems to me that Saddam is still alive. If the US forces pulled out tomorrow morning wouldn't he would be back by tomorrow afternoon? Or better yet, someone worse? Or even better, the country could erupt into civil war? If one supported the war or not, do you not think we now have a moral obligation to rebuild the schools, offices, government infrastructure, etc... that we destroyed? Yes, US taxpayers pay and corporations profit, but isn't that a small price for us to pay, in such a ridiculously wealthy country, for all the Iraqi people have suffered? Yes, the money could be spend on aiding people in the US, but the poverty and pain between our two countries isn't even comparable. We did not help the Iraqi people in the past, that may be true. Does that mean we should continue to do so?

Posted by: Kristen at November 17, 2003 08:15 PM

To all you freedom loving, SUV driving, born again conservative Ihave to say, just rise above your pride and admit that this administration screwed up response to 9/11 so bad that its going to take at least two more administrations to get us back to where we were before 9/11. Idealistic neo-cons are either stupid or have some great plan to ensure that we continue lording over everone for dacades to come. Their actions has directly affected our national interest and our future. I want them in court answering to this proxy war mongering!!!

By lying to American people and covering thoes lies with more lies I am sure they've made it tough for die hard follower to keep justifying thier actions and coming up for excuses. Don't they have mind of thier own?!?!?!? Funny thikg is that most of the so called neo-con followers are inteligent and can independantly make decisions, that is why they are so successful in business. Then why can't they change thier mind and have to keep beating the same old drum. Here is my take...the conservatives by enlarge are principaled bunch and they know and belive (faith) in that, and so everyone else must be wrong, dah!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Ali at November 17, 2003 09:26 PM

How easily we are fooled? How could someone living in Baghdad have access to the internet to write a blog? Sure access is limited, but apparently not impossible. Two recent articles on the subject:

USA Today from 13 Nov-

The Associated Press 5 Sep-

Now might the problem be that we disagree with what these Iraqi citizens are writing about on their blogs? Certainly the opinion of an Iraqi, living in Baghdad, is less important that what the London Independent has to say, right?

Posted by: Kristen at November 17, 2003 10:25 PM