What the American Flag Symbolizes for Iraqis

Some 230 years have passed since the United States declaration of independence. But as Americans celebrated their national day this year, they certainly had the terrible experience of their Iraqi adventure in the back of their minds.

The grey years that the Americans have spent in Iraq will haunt the United States for decades to come, even though their presence in the country is ostensibly under the U.N. banner.

Almost everywhere in the world, the American flag indicates the values of a civilized society, and one that has transformed the face of the globe over the past 70 years. But that is unfortunately not the case in Iraq, where the U.S. flag carries entirely different connotations.

In Iraq, the American flag is seen as symbol of moral decadence, and has nothing to do with technology, democracy, welfare or human rights.

It is indeed ironic to watch the United States so readily dispense with the values that it so valiantly fought and struggled for when it occupied Iraq in the first place. Prior to the invasion, many Iraqis had hopes of share perhaps a sliver of the sublime values trumpeted by Washington.

But alas, the world’s most powerful country doesn’t appear to have the capacity to learn from its mistakes, whether in Iraq or the larger Middle East.

The United States loves creating its own enemies, by its own hand; and as a result its Middle East policies are headed into the abyss. In Iraq, the U.S. has created a vulnerable target for the covetous intentions of neighboring states, and has actually turned it into a venue for “international terror.” The U.S. has turned Iraq into an example that runs contrary to America’s values, beliefs and assumptions.

Why isn’t there a single wise man in the world’s mightiest country capable of telling the White House that America’s enemies, whether in Iraq or anywhere else in the Middle East, are a result of U.S. policies? The world’s only superpower gathers, nourishes and fortifies its own enemies, and as a result, U.S. policies in the region are leading toward oblivion.

And it is for these reasons that both the American flag and the American battle tank are powerless to contain Iraq’s murderous militias.

In Iraqi minds, the U.S. flag is associated with surgical strikes on crowded cities such as Falluja, Tal Affar, Ramadi, Qaim and Baaquba.

The U.S. flag is associated with humiliating practices, such as ordering female university students on their campus in Mosul to take off their clothes.

The U.S. flag is connected to the sex crimes committed at the Abu Ghraib prison, which has become even more notorious than it was during the days of the former President Saddam Hussein.

The U.S. flag is related to the Marines who raped and then murdered an Iraqi virgin in the city of Mahmodiya.

These are just a few examples of the things that pop up in Iraqi minds when spotting a U.S. flag.

No wonder there isn’t a trace of the flag anywhere in Iraq, apart from the Green Zone, which is encircled by huge slabs of reinforced concrete.

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