America’s Blunders Are ‘As Lethal As Saddam’s’

Yes, we are now free of Saddam Hussein’s rein of terror. But the question is whether we are willing to accept foreign servitude.

Two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s statue in the heart of Baghdad, the same question seems to be haunting many Iraqis.

In March 2003 we thought the removal of Saddam Hussein would solve almost all of our problems. We thought our liberation from his oppression would pave the way for prosperity and freedom.

Before March 2003, how to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime was the single most important issue for Iraqis at home and abroad.

But when the country’s U.S. administration under former chief Paul Bremer wanted to force its demands through powerless interim institutions that succeeded Saddam Hussein, it became clear to many Iraqis that we were moving from the age of oppression to the age of servitude.

Iraqis were almost unanimous in their glee to have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, his terror and his many blunders, particularly his invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent U.N. trade sanctions.

But the blunders of the U.S. administration were as lethal as those of Saddam Hussein.

When the Americans came here, they relied heavily on advice from Iraqis who arrived on the back of a tank.

There has been no serious attempt to serve the interests of Iraqis as a nation. Almost everything since March 2003 has been geared to service the narrow needs of the various pro-U.S. factions, groups and individuals.

The mistakes committed so far are so grave that Iraqis now joke among themselves, saying that even Saddam Hussein would not have made this or that mistake.

A typical joke in Iraq currently runs as follows: “The apprentice has gone and the master has come.”

As a result, many Iraqis are now frustrated and angry, and curse anyone who thinks democracy will come with U.S. boots.

And they have plenty of evidence. The practices of the occupation forces since arriving here have been the opposite of their claims to democracy: witness the abuses of Abu Ghraib and other places.

The country is in total chaos and the Iraqis are bewildered.

For example, we need to distinguish between terror operations targeting innocent civilians and acts of resistance with the goal of liberating the country from foreign troops.

But that distinction is hard to come by in the chaos and confusion of what has become the new Iraq.

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