Airaq vs. Iraq
Or, what happens when you find yourself fighting for your life in a country whose name you can’t pronounce

January 1st, 2007
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private] v5-1-My Voice-airaqBefore the first Iraq war in 1991 the percentage of women representatives in Iraqi parliament was greater that in the US congress. Today, after the second Iraq war, women are being covered-up as Muslim fundamentalism takes hold of Iraqi reality. Welcome to US imposed democracy- it will bite you back when you least expect it.

Unlike what America would like to think, democracy is not a top priority for all peoples around the world. In Iraq for example the priorities are: Muslim faith, family ties, tribal loyalty, pride, security and just maybe then… democracy. You can’t force someone to take democracy while depriving them of other priorities.

What looks like more and more like a realistic option is scrapping “democracy at all costs plan” and bringing in an Iraqi strongman to halt the violence with an iron fist. Saddam Hussein is still available and probably willing. I doubt he would be asked, but the fact is Iraqis might have hated their dictator, but he was at least one of them. Nobody wants a foreign oppressor.

v5-1-My Voice-IraqAlmost all Middle East leaders are dictators, but at least their countries are kept under control. Saddam Hussein as a leader was no more ruthless then Libya’s Khadaffi, Syria’s Assad, or Tunisia’s Ben Ali. As long as these dictators are satisfied with oppressing small portions of their own populations, this has been just fine with US.

Today’s America, an out of equilibrium superpower, lacks self restraint and its moral standing in the world has greatly eroded. The US military personnel in Iraq is confused about their purpose, which changed twice, and is desperately trying to justify their risking their lives. US soldiers need to believe in something and the one sacre santum remains the president and the good will of its government.

For the last three years Americans found themselves dying for reasons they don’t understand in a country whose name they can’t pronounce. GIs and their families are in denial and America will for generations have to deal and recover from the trauma of the second Iraq war. In December 2006 there were 140,000 US troops are in Iraq and President Bush is resolute to bring another 50,000 into the quagmire.

As US has spent more time in Iraq than it did in World War II and World War I, a comparison with Vietnam becomes more and more appropriate. In that comparison Vietnam begins to look like a ‘bearable’ conflict. Here is why.

The US troops, journalists and volunteers are at risk anywhere outside US military bases. In Vietnam, from 1955 to 1975, 66 journalists lost their lives. In Iraq, in only three years, 78 journalists were killed.

In the 1959-1973 Vietnam conflict US had as many as 300,000 troops there. 58,209 American soldiers died there and for every dead there were three wounded. In Iraq the number of dead US soldiers stands at 2,932 with 22,032 wounded- a ratio of 7.5 wounded per every dead. There were 247 UK and coalition soldiers killed and if you include in these statistics the killing of 647 US contractors working in Iraq, whose work in Vietnam were carried out by US military, that number goes up to 3,826 killed.

The only reason why more Americans don’t die in the Iraq conflict are the advances in medical sciences and efficient helicopter med evacs that have allowed people who would typically be dead in Vietnam, to live, no matter how horrific the wounds.

Ironically the war is not all bad. There have been several positive events that the Iraq war has created. America and the world have become more educated about the dangers of militant Islam, world terrorism, and have been taught a lesson that simplistic answers to complex political situations don’t work.
The oil price crisis that resulted from the war has woken America from a 30-year malaise and already begun to stimulate American ingenuity in coming out of its addiction to oil. The US energy and automobile industry has begun a process of transformation, only due to high oil prices. [/private]

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