The war in Iraq is unfortunately drawing parallels with Vietnam with each passing day. The insurgent strategy is as plain and simple as the 9/11 conspiracy. The use of coalition forces captured ammunition to kill at least 10 American soldiers every week is enough to demoralize the ground forces paraded by a despotic leader as peacekeepers. Admittedly, the world is a much more dangerous place than it ever was under Saddam Hussein. Surely, the Iraqi dictator was a tyrant and deserved to go but the revolution needed to arise from within rather than imposed externally.
The reasons for war has drastically been altered from trying to find non-existential weapons of mass destruction to attempting to destroy the terror links with Al-Queda to the current favorite of instilling a democratic spirit in the Iraqi people. However, has anyone in the Bush Administration given a thought to the wishes of the Iraqi people as to whether they really desire a democracy?
Democracy has its flaws but is still the lesser of the evil in today’s political regimes. Americans themselves took more than 150 years to cope with the idea of democracy while sifting through eras of abolition of slavery, suffrage movement and civil rights and desegregation before finally etching out a hazy picture of equal rights, still blemished by implicit racism and homophobic tendencies. Change at this level takes years to seep into the psyche of the people and is best understood when the people interpret and adapt norms and values according to their environment.
Democracy in the purest American form maybe bit too distilled for a country divided by the Shia-Sunni clashes. The strategic location of Iraq at the junction of the volatile Middle East and the upbeat Asian continent makes it important for global stability. A little blip on the economic radar is enough to send markets tumbling and forebear doom for global trade. The current oil shocks can be remotely attributed to the prolonged conflict in Iraq.
It has been a long year since Bush unfurled the “Mission Accomplished” banner atop the USS Lincoln and never has anyone been so horribly wrong. The continued death dance on the streets of Iraq has replaced hope with fear and the average Iraqi is as threatened as the unwitting soldier or military contractor. Maybe it is time to let Iraqis decide whether they really need a democracy now or are content living under the overshadowing arm of an Islamic cleric class, as in Iran.
I hope Bush has a decisive solution and plan of action to offer tonight when he disrupts prime-time television to deliver a nationwide address.