When Baghdad fell into the hands of American forces, some cried for joy and thought that that one of the great victories of modern civilization had arrived. All factions and groups were dancing – but they were all dancing for different reasons. The celebrations were rushed and filled with naivete. Some people thought that bringing down Saddam’s statue would be sufficient to bring the “birth of the promised Democracy!” As if, like a piece of capitalistic mental merchandise, democracy could be delivered in a brief rescue operation! When the satellite channels started to play on this theme, I thought to myself, how could informed people engage in this level of naivete?
Iraq’s problems are now snowballing and growing ever-more ambiguous. The country and its supposed democratic system lack even a trace of security. Policies were instituted according to a false choice and a simplistic question: “Should we keep Saddam in power or invade Iraq?” It was thought that human beings were incapable of finding a third option to prevent Iraq from devolving to where it is today.
One of the greatest displays of ignorance from an otherwise advanced society came when the President of the United States celebrated the fall of Baghdad, seemingly convinced that he was heralding the “implanting of democracy.” But as the carnival atmosphere subsided the world awoke to an explosion of terrorism and destruction in all regions of Iraq. And with every partial victory – capturing Saddam, killing Zarqawi and sentencing Saddam to death – new problems emerged, proving the unparalleled shortsightedness of politicians who seem to scorn the study of other societies and their geography. Even that fox Bernard Lewis seemed tense during a recent interview. This octogenarian who has studied the Arabs for so long had thought that invading a country would be like entering a field of lambs!
One must draw a distinction between the cultures of the East and the West, but it should be a scientific distinction, not one based on discrimination against Arabs. This distinction should not lead to a separation or denial of vulnerability, but to realism in dealing with one another and a patient analysis of the situation. The distinction should not lead to racial discrimination or discrimination against certain groups, but to a scientific understanding that the East has a radically different pattern of thinking from the West, in regard to ideas, religion, society, politics and money. The Eastern intellectual experience is radically different from the West, and we should keep in mind that the East is structured differently than the West and that this has many ramifications.
For example, successful revolutions in Europe and America were successful, making the West the key promoter of intellectual and political freedom. But in the Arab world this has failed. No revolution in the Arab world had benefited the average Arab man, which is why I doubt that democracy can be established in the Arab world through war and revolution. The people of Mecca [the Arab people] know that war and invasion cannot nurture democracy on Eastern soil. Most Arab sociological studies – scarce as they are – demonstrate the difficulty of successfully cloning specific political systems, and that all relatively free political systems grew into it gradually, and we should also keep in mind that even in such societies there are occasional crisis and that the traditional mindset always resists new ideas.
This Arab political “quagmire” has its roots in history. By reviewing Mohammad Al Jabiri’s book The Constitution of the Arab Mind, we can see the magnitude of the problem with Arab political thinking and how it spans centuries. The author discusses the heartbreaking facts and explains them and doesn’t put forth concepts from afar, but discusses very clearly the contemporary Arab political situation. Meanwhile, there is a deluge of similar books which look at this subject through the lens of Islamic history and the caliphate.
When studying the “Iraqi problem” since the fall of Saddam’s statue, we are horrified by the tremendous success of the terrorists. The democracy that was to be planted never took root.
It’s true that Iraqis voted and that the leaders of certain institutions were elected, but human beings are more important than the mere notion of democracy. The heinous way that people are dying there is a trivialization of the concept of humanity which first took root in ancient Greece. We can summarize this trivialization as follows: After a massive bombing campaign, individuals come from abroad to take over and rule the country as a colony! Any researcher or informed reader familiar with the concept of democracy can see that forcing this type of political authoritarianism on an indigenous population is a distortion of the concept of democracy.
Because of this “democracy,” Iraq has fallen apart and is in an unenviable situation. Iraq is like an open wound, with terrorist attacks around the country and a frightful increase in disorder. This has led to the rise of forces with interests inimical to the Arabs. Regional powers like Syria and Iran have intelligently exploited America’s war on Iraq … as if the mission of the United States is to deliver Iraq into Iranian hands!
This is not a joke or a tale: Iran, which in 2001 was described (among other countries) by the United States as a member of the “Axis of Evil” may become America’s savior! Despite the fact that David Welch, assistant Secretary of State, said recently in Jordan that “the level of media attention on those two countries is exaggerated,” Russia’s Foreign minister insists on including “all countries in the region – including Iran and Syria – in establishing a global strategy to bring stability to the region.” The difficulties of American power in the region are due simply to its perceptions of war, which focus on financial and commercial interests, whereas the majority of Arabs see the United States as having political, cultural and economic intentions. Moreover, the average Iraqi looks at this war as a loss of face and a challenge to his culture.