The first time I got an email from an American soldier in Iraq I wasn’t sure how to react. These days I read a couple of US soldier blogs and a couple even send me emails every now and then. I was answering one of them from [Mr. Somewhere-in-the-north-of-Iraq] when I decided later to post it on the blog. So here it is. And on a more personal note; No [Mr. Somewhere-in-the-north-of-Iraq], it doesn’t bother me that you are “one of the American occupiers?” because I don’t think of you as an Occupier, I know you would much rather be home and you are stuck here because someone said this is where you should be.
This is what he wrote:
What’s the right answer?
Is it to have driven Saddam out (which requires a war), but with a truly United, worldwide coalition, along with a master-plan for the post-war? Is there another way to have removed Saddam? Or should he have been left in power, isolated from the international community, and basically allowing the maintenance of the status quo? Although I know most of Iraq wanted him gone, is it realistic to believe that Iraqis would have pushed Saddam from power? I think–but don’t know–that Saddam had consolidated so much power over the masses that it would have been impossible for Iraqis themselves to deal the death knell to his regime (that would pass on to his progeny)? Basically, should the issue of Iraq been left 100% to the Iraqis from the beginning (no war)?
On another note, is America too powerful? Doesn’t it usually do good things with its power, or does it screw up as much as it helps?
He doesn’t believe in easy small talk does he?
It is pointless to debate what should have been done. There was a war almost a year ago and we have to deal with its consequences, there was time for debate much earlier. The powers that be made their decisions, whether right or wrong, at that time. I am a very pragmatic person, Raed’s nickname for me was [Salam the PragmaPig] I deal with the shit as it happens, never a moment of regret – well almost. But for the sake of debate…….
[Dear readers, please give me a chance to empty my mailbox before flooding it with hatemail, otherwise your passionately written critique will bounce]
What annoyed me most in the whole build up to the war was the act the US administration put on, the way they seemed almost surprised at how much of a baddy Saddam has been and how it was time to slap him on the hand and wash his mouth with soap for all the bad things he has done. The various documents that were produced to show how much of a bully he has been on the international playground were treated as if they were so new and startling. That was just silly. What the US administration didn’t put in those records and documents was the extent of its own involvement in building up this monster and now that he has grown bigger than they thought he could they thought it was time to get rid of him.
You ask is there another way to have removed Saddam? Well yes but that would have involved something the US administration didn’t see necessary at the time. It should have happened right after the first gulf war. The scene was set and all the players were ready to play there part in Iraq. More than two thirds of Iraq was out of Saddam’s control. There was a sense that people have achieved things for themselves, truly proud revolutionaries not the scared people who had to be helped by an outsider they are now. But what did the US administration choose to do? It pooped on them; it allowed Saddam to start a persecution of Shia that was so extreme; it left the country with deep scars that will take a long time to heal. Even the political situation would have been easier to handle, the rift between Shia and Sunnis wasn’t as big as it is now. The country still had its secular educated class, which now is all over the world having turned to political and economic refugees trying to escape the claws of Saddam and the difficult economic situation in Iraq after the war and the sanctions.
But as I said it is no use crying over spilt milk, we have to deal with what we have now.
You say “Or should he have been left in power, isolated from the international community, and basically allowing the maintenance of the status quo?” well, that is exactly what the Bush administration chose to do at the time, isn’t it? But that policy didn’t just isolate Saddam but the Iraqi people and gave him more power over the destinies of Iraqis, we became so dependant on a government that wasn’t at all fit to take care of us.
Anyway, all that doesn’t matter now. Saddam is gone, thanks to you. Was it worth it? Be assured it was. We all know that it got to a point where we would have never been rid of Saddam without foreign intervention; I just wish it would have been a bit better planned. Does this mean that I will be wearing a (I [heart] Bush) t-shirt? NO, because I don’t believe there is any altruism in politics and the way he sees the world scares me.
What I do really and sincerely hope for is that the day you and other soldiers and US civilians here don’t have to stay behind those high concrete walls isn’t too far away; and that you feel safe walking in the streets without those hard and heavy flak jackets, so that we can sit and talk about these things in a Karrada Street tea shop.
There are many challenges Iraqis have to face now, so please stick around a bit longer and try helping us get thru them. One of the more serious challenges is the fact that Iraq has become a sort of an open playground for many political and religious factions who are using Iraq as a fighting ground.
So there you have it [Mr. Somewhere-in-the-north-of-Iraq], and by the way you never told me whether you had a blog or not.