For a brief moment, despite the now overwhelming evidence that the Iraq War was based on a crumbling foundation of lies, the American and British overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s despotic rule in Iraq could have been seen as the liberation of an oppressed people. In that brief moment, the hopes of western nations that a democratic government in the heart of the Middle East could mark the coming of a new era of international cooperation and peace overshadowed the more reasoned voices that warned against too much exuberance and cautioned that such an expectation was hardly a certainty. Yet as the statues of Saddam were pulled from their bases and the ubiquitous pictures of the dictator were systematically defiled across the nation, the new American leadership made mistake after mistake and the country became an embroiled mess of violence, sectarian division and hatred, and official corruption. The moment, however haphazardly arrived at, was lost. Liberation became occupation. And occupation became just another word to describe a long, drawn-out war.

While liberation is sometimes synonymous with free, occupation is almost always associated with repression, especially by those who find themselves living in the occupied country. Having been told that that initial war was meant to bring freedom and democracy to their country, regular Iraqis can only sit in incredulity as they see the shambles their country has become. Indeed, if this is the path to freedom, many doubtlessly would have chosen to leave bad enough alone. But once ‘liberation’ has gone out the window and all you are left with is occupation forces, it becomes difficult to sit back and wait for the promise of self-determination to begin. After all, Iraq was promised a democratic government. So far, all they’ve gotten is more bloodshed and a paralyzed parliament.

Increasingly, the presence of foreign troops on Iraqi soil has led to factional divisions within Iraq itself, as our lack of effective provisional governance created a vacuum of power in Iraq that has been filled by a rash of sectarian rebel groups, terrorist organizations who moved in to fertile training grounds, and disaffected Iraqi citizens fighting for their daily existence. Our lack of planning, competence, and ability to engage Iraq and its neighbors in finding peace has exposed the emptiness of American colonialism sans intelligence and revealed an American system of capitalist-controlled corporate governance that shares no values with the people of America, let alone Iraq and the Middle East as a whole. Being exposed as such, the modern “Iraqi Street” has concluded that American democracy has only destroyed their once secular (albeit despotic) government and replaced it with a daily bloodbath where no one is safe, where you don’t know your enemy from your friend, and where each walk outside may be your last.

Our moment as liberators quickly transformed into an eternity as occupiers who have become little more than catalysts for chaos. And as yet, there seems to be no end in sight. President Bush has all but said that he’ll never leave Iraq while in office, meaning that more US troops will die needlessly, more Iraqi’s will die needlessly, and the flames of Mid-East tensions will continue to rise, fueled by arrogance and idiotic decisions from the Oval Office.


Unless the Iraqi’s have anything to say about it. In an under-reported story out of Iraq, the Iraqi parliament yesterday passed a binding resolution that will guarantee Iraqi lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the UN mandate under which coalition troops now remain in Iraq when it comes up for renewal in December. The bill would require any new extensions to be approved by the parliament instead of the Prime Minister, as is now the case. And Iraqi lawmakers have indicated that when given the chance, they’ll block any future extensions of the mandate that do not contain specific timelines for withdrawal, meaning that coalition (read: mostly US) troops would no longer have UN cover to remain in Iraq. Without that cover, any foreign troops in Iraq would legally be considered as an armed occupation force, not so unlike the Japanese when they conquered parts of China back in the 1930’s. In other words, the overwhelming impression by Iraqis that American troops are now an occupying force would become a matter of international law and not just an overwhelming national opinion.

Of course, with George W. Bush at the helm, I have no doubt that he will ignore any such actions from the Iraqis. After all, democracy is great to this president, so long as he’s the one calling the shots. Remember, he’s the decider guy. But if the Iraqi’s pass this bill, and if they refuse to extend any further UN mandates that do not contain specific timetables for ending this conflict, expect this war to grow larger as other Arab nations in the region reach out to their Iraqi neighbors against American insolence and intransigence. And expect America to lose more and more of her foreign support, perhaps becoming even more of a target than she is today.

Six years ago America was ruthlessly attacked by a group of religious zealots who got lucky and were able to take advantage of our laxity. That was a monumental tragedy and represented an internal failure on our part. In the six years since that day, America, under Geroge Bush and Dick Cheney, has done more harm to herself and to world peace than any Middle Eastern mullah could have hoped for. And in the process, they have guaranteed that “freedom and democracy” aren’t going to be embraced in the Middle East any time soon.

Nice job guys. Nice job.

(cross posted at Bring It On!)