Friday, January 07, 2005

Rambling Post (1)

Now, continuing what is said in the previous post, scrutinizing your comments, one can deduce:

1. People saying these comments reflect intellectual way of thinking.
2. These people live in communities dominated by law.
3. They are aware of their duties & rights.
4. They know what the means of implementing law are and how to use them.
5. They did not live for more than forty years under oppression which hindered the community resulting in a twisted way of thinking here in Iraq.
6. There are notable cultural differences in perceiving certain concepts.

Now, I can understand all the comments you have made and I agree with most of them. But once again I say that we, the Iraqis, need educational rehabilitation to start moving toward civilized values. One of my favorite visitors to my blog, Papa Ray, directed me to a blog interview with Steven Vincent on Chrenkoff . Vincent toured in Iraq for four months as a freelance and wrote a book about his journey "In the Red Zone: A journey into the soul of Iraq". He says describing the Iraqi society:

"… Imagine children whose father physically and emotionally
abused them for
years. Now imagine that the authorities jail the father and
tell the children
they're free to live their own lives. Theoretically, they
are free, but the
traumas of their past will still haunt them, limiting and
afflicting their
freedom. That's the condition of most Iraqis. As if that
weren't bad enough, add
in the regressive pull of tribalism and reactionary

Good way to describe the aftermath society in Iraq. I think that many Mideast societies resemble the Iraqi. The question is "Should the 'civilized' world break up with such societies and seclude itself?" and if this hypothetical decision was made, would these retrogressive societies leave the 'civilized' world alone? The answer could be found in what Chrenkoff says in his post Steve Vincent goes "In The Red Zone":

"…it was the September 11 attack, which Vincent watched
unfolding from the roof
of his apartment, that destroyed his comfortable old
certainties, alerted him to
a new danger facing the West and awakened inside
him the need to learn more
about it."

Now back to your comments, Vincent is a westerner and to avoid making preconception, he came to Iraq trying to understand what's going on. I can say, for sure, that most of you can not visit Iraq nowadays. So let me try to do my best to put you closer to the Iraqi society, though I know it is not easy to understand certain issues because of the cultural differences.

Iraq with its nowadays geographical area did not exist till the year 1920. The modern state introduced to the Iraqis, and many of the Middle East peoples, by the British. Till then, Mesopotamia was part of the Ottoman Empire and the tribal system was the dominating way of life.

A book entitled (A Study in The Society of Iraq) by Dr. Ali Wardi (an Iraqi sociologist 1913-96), in which he made a very good effort to develop a hypothesis which says that the Iraqi society is very influenced by the Bedouin culture. He believes that the pivot point of the Bedouin culture is (unfair competition); I can not find the exact translation for the Arabic word.
The Bedouin has three major Cultural Complexes, according to Dr. Wardi, which are:

1. Tribal sectarianism: consists of strict adherence to the tribe, chieftain(ism), revenge, succor, lineage boast, protecting woman…etc.
2. Incursion(ism): consists of boasting about power & bravery, fighting & booty, sense of honor, frankness, disdain, to contempt work…etc.
3. Magnanimity & generosity: consists of boasting about hospitality & generosity; helping aliens, neighbors, comrades, allies, and every weak person asking for help.

These three cultural complexes require that a Bedouin should have a powerful tribe which can invade other tribes. He can participate in its raids on other tribes.
A Bedouin should prove his bravery through booty quantity he can gain. And to prove his generosity, he should surpass others through granting as much as he can from the booty. For that the Bedouin is described as (plunderous-granter or donator).

After emerging as a new state, Iraq made a notable progress toward modernization till the year 1958 in which a military coup took place. After that coup, Iraqi society started to slow down in its movement toward being civilized one. And since the year 1979, in which Saddam seized power, the Iraqi society witnessed a significant relapse into tribal values.

To be continued…


Blogger KT said...


Another great post which is why blogging is so important. I am 54 years old and grew up listening to the news in America and believing every word of it. Of course, the media used to be different and just "reported" facts instead of offering opinions as it does now. Now is better because it is so confusing because there is so much information, people have to think out issues.

No matter what, the media cannot get the message across like bloggers can. We all think we understand words like dictator, oppressed, freedom and democracy, but you guys make us really understand what it means to people. I have learned more from bloggers, particularly in the ME, than I ever could have understood from the media. It makes you re-examine your own thought process and belief system; and that is a good thing. So, thanks for your time and efforts; they are appreciated.

I understand your comments about "educational rehabilitation" about Iraqis, and it will come with time. Again from reading blogs, I would expect exactly what you say about what does an abused child do with freedom, choice and independence. It has to start somewhere, because it's the right thing for the people.

Stay safe

3:32 AM  
Blogger Pat in NC said...

Thank you for the explanation. I have learned so much from the Iraqi blogs and believe these educated citizens such as you will have quite a challenge in providing the education and understanding to thos who were not provided good education. The bloggers that are able to write in English with such clarity put me to shame since English is the only language I speak and write. I am amazed by the Iraqi teens with blogs who grasp English so well. I know that the same level of education has not been available to all Iraqi. The future lies with those who somehow were educated and the young now in school. I am hoping that once a new government is elected that all Iraqis will be so tired of violence that a more peaceful Iraq will allow for
education. May God bless Iraq.

4:22 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Greetings, Ibn

I hope this post finds you and yours in good health and safe.

You continue to amaze and impress me. I have not been bloging too much lately, because of family needs and lack of time. But I was pleased beyond words to see your post. I had been a little worried about you and others in possible danger in your country.

I made a new friend, a young military kid (excuse me, Man), that just started a new blog. He is preparing for deployment to your country and is reading everything he can get. Books, articles and of course on the internet.

He believes that he should Know your Enemy . He also is trying to learn about possible new friends. I gave him your blog address and asked him to drop by.

Well I have no other link to leave tonight. But I will leave my good will and good wishes to you and yours.

This is my post

Papa Ray
West Texas

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very informative and interesting. I will be looking for your continued writing on Iraq. Kathy in California

8:51 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Ibn..I find the anology of the abused child very interesting and the question regarding whether the western world should pull back and isolate itself even more so.

From a sociological stand point and having had experience with some abused children, it would defy logic for the west to pull back or disassociate itself from the Middle East.

In child psychology, when children are abused, abandoned or suffer extreme trauma, they have a tendency to develop something referred to as R.A.D. or reactive attachment disorder. Or, in layman's words, they are unable to develop a bond of love or trust between themselves and others. Even a parent or an adoptive parent who takes them in after their abuse, abondonment, etc.

Children with RAD have a tendency to be unsociable, act out often in violent ways, lack of attention span, will create their own world in their minds in which to live because the real world is too traumatic. The fear of trusting or having that trust damaged makes the child develop a pre-emptive defense system in which they feel the need to act out first and keep from developing that trust that they expect to be damaged or destroyed anyway.

If left unrecognized and untreated, children of RAD are most likely to develop other anti-social behaviors including and up to becoming abusers themselves or basically violent criminals.

This from a website on RAD:

Parent RAD ChildrenWith a child who has been abandoned or abused parents often feel sorry for the child and, out of pity, lower the structure expectations of doing chores, being respectful. etc. There is a tendency to overindulge in order to make up for the pain the child has suffered. The problem with this approach is that material things do not fill a child's broken heart. Broken hearts can only be healed by time with the parents. Time spent working, laughing and experiencing life together with lots of loving eye contact, touch, smiles, movement and basic carbohydrates.

A critical piece in the puzzle of parenting is the correct balance between nurturing and structure. The child will try to sabotage each piece. Some are better at sabotaging nurturing, while others are more skilled at sabotaging structure. With too much structure and not enough nurturing, the child feels the mom is "too tough and too cold " and will not bond because they do not feel safe. They don't heal.

With too much nurturing and not enough structure, The mom feels "mean" and so "cuts the child slack", this eliminates the needed structure. The child feels the mother is a "marshmallow" and believes they are outsmarting the parents because the consequences don't fall, privileges are given that have not been earned and/or restitution is not being made.

The amount of snuggle time and hugs must equalize the rules and expectations. A correct balance is essential. In the beginning, there must be a tremendous amount of both. As the child heals, less is needed, until ideally, the hugs are seven a day and no structure is required. They must develop their own conscience and self control, rather than having to be controlled by the parents. Parenting out of pity or power tripping is not in balance. You'll know you found the balance for your child when your child feels safe enough to grow emotionally, becoming more responsible, more thoughtfull, more appreciative, and happier! You will be much happier too!!

In other words, if I was diagnosing the entire population with RAD, the right action is the west not to withdraw at all, but to remain engaged. In order for Iraqi society to heal from this RAD, the authorities (and in this case the US along with a reformed Iraqi government acting a substitute or adoptive "parent") must continue on a course of applying structure (adherence to law and order), meeting out punishment as necessary but in a manner commiserate with the crime, and at the same time working with the Iraqis, playing, "hugging" and in general remaining engaged with them and the rest of the middle easst until they are able to form attachments and develop self control.

Hope that didn't sound patronizing. It's just when I read up on the subject, it seemed a large part of the Iraqi population might be suffering from this along with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I'd say the middle east in general may be suffering from RAD post abandonment of colonial powers and the institution of abusive powers (parents?).

What do you say?

In short, my theory is that disengagement is the worst sort of action we could take if we want a change and that being overly indulgent (like our european friends) will just get the result of sabotage and defiance because they can take advantage of their feelings of pity.

However, the US and allies must tread carefully and make sure that punishment or demanding structures are equalized with care, hugs and apparently food.

3:03 AM  
Blogger Louise said...

Keep blogging Ibn Al Rafidain. We learn so much from your bloggers when you tell us of your own lives and your own perspective on things.

I think what you are saying here is true of several places in the world. Some of the countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc still suffer from that paralysis, I think, to some extent, in any case.

4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thinker says...

Kat...I think that was an absolutely brilliant post!


4:53 AM  
Blogger Leap Frog said...

A Bedouin should prove his bravery through booty quantity he can gain. And to prove his generosity, he should surpass others through granting as much as he can from the booty. For that the Bedouin is described as (plunderous-granter or donator).

I like this paragraph, reminds me of the Robin Hood fable.

He stole from the 'rich' and gave to the 'poor'.

IBN, your words ring true, as a culture and a country the face of Iraq's society has changed abruptly due to the worst of circumstances, but Iraqis are also survivors, and I hope they survive this as intact as possible.

I can see the cultural differences in regards to the Islamic laws and rules for women and how that brings it into a glaringly obvious difference with democracy's basic principle of one vote for all.

What would it take for Iraqis to become once again, the progressive people in the 1950's you've described? (and that I've read about before). I too, like Kat's analogy, a firm but kind hand is needed. Can't help but think though, that intelligent leadership is badly needed here as well. And that too, is another facet of saddam's evil legacy.

But it is impossible for me to understand completely, your understandings and your positions after almost 40 of saddams' brutal regime, and what you as an Iraqi have gone through. It's perceptive of you to note how we all write from our perspectives and perceptions of Iraq; and the cultural differences must be obvious to you. I appreciate your bringing attention to this, as it's a vital point and will be a challenge in setting up a new government, with a 'western influence' of democracy in Iraq.

Looking forward to your next perspective, stay well IBN.


12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ibn_AlRafidan,
Excellent post. You are truly honest, but I'm not sure how far honesty will advance your goal of helping Iraqis.
In the US, we have faith in the decency of the Iraqi people in spite of the present anguish and their eventual emergence from this cruel time.
'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.'

7:02 PM  
Blogger Louise said...

I agree with Kat and thinker. What I know about life in Saddam's time would suggest that no one trusted anyone, even brother's and sisters. Saddam set it up that way.

7:49 PM  
Blogger JJ said...

Ibn, wonderful post!

I wish the MSM in the US were more tuned into bloggers such as yourself. If they were, perhaps they would be able to present their "news" in a way that would enlighten Americans on why it is viatal that we not abandon our efforts in Iraq.

Please keep posting and expressing your thoughts.

Stay safe

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Son of Two Rivers,
I continue to learn so much from you about Iraq. Here's a philosophical question for you: is it likely that a whole culture CAN be changed? You mention educational rehab frequently in your posts. And I love the compassionate and wise comments of Kat. What continues to puzzle and worry me is, *how* are such things accomplished? I am not saying it should not be attempted or that it is hopeless by any means- I just don't know what would happen here in America if, say, the Swedes showed up and occupied us and tried to get everyone to believe in socialized medicine- a concept that functions OK over there-- they have a rather different, more homogenized, smaller, and perhaps wealthier country. Americans by contrast seem to be culturally quite resistant to certain kinds of goverment they perceive as 'socialist' or 'communist,' regardless of how great other countries might find them or what benefits they might bring.

That's a mild hypothetical compared to the current struggle in your country, I realize. I just don't know how these hypothetical Swedes would make enough Americans 'convert.' This is what I also wonder about Iraq. The Bedouin, tribal sort of culture you describe doesn't seem particularly fertile ground for a national, democratic system, even if you subtract the terrible experiences of the Hussein regime.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts-

2:08 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Greetings Ibn,

I hope this post finds you and yours healthy and safe.

"To change nature you must start with the seed". I don't remember where I heard that but that is the first thought that came to my mind, after reading your post.

How many generations of children, will it take, that are not taught to hate and not taught that beliving differently, is something to be attacked with violence and hatred.

The nature of the Middle East is muddled, mired in the past, in tribal commitments and the curse of centuries of conflict. Conflict from outside invaders, Conflict between tribes, Conflict with enemies who become friends to fight a common enemy. These conflicts change sides, almost as much over the years, as the sand flows with the wind.

How can anyone understand all this when even the very Iraqi people themselves. can not really explain it to us or even to themselves.

I have been reading and studying and talking and blogging for over a year and I can safely say I am even more confused, than I was, when I started.

By the way Ibn, you lead off the blog list here , and guess what, it is about this very subject.

This is my post

Papa Ray
West Texas

8:00 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

In this situation, governing, like parenting, there is no perfection nor perfect solution. Particularly as people are individuals and have different reactions to different structures.

Trying to do it on a collective level is much more difficult.

What I find very interesting is, just like in parenting, there is always someone trying to tell you how to do it better or what worked for them. Certainly, some advice is helpful, but again, each situation calls for it's own actions.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Gadfly said...


Thank you. The idea that the society had regressed toward tribal values under the Saddam regime had not occurred to me. I will have to ponder that.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Greetings Again Ibn,

Another country that is emerging from the 17th,18th century, has tribal and culture values that defy American understanding. But, they are now involved in and trying to change. Will it be sucessful? Who knows for sure. What will the situation five or ten years from now? Who knows, but they have a different situation now and a new chance for changes and freedoms.

First you should read this , it is a long collection of stories, stories of change, of the start of re-building and of a new future. A future that just a few years ago would be completely unbelivable.

I should not have to point out that you won't read or hear or see any of this in the MSM of this old world.

This is my post

Papa Ray
West Texas

7:53 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

I haven't expected the Iraqi people to act like people who have known freedom all their lives. Change is hard, and can be scary, especially when you have been repressed and abused.

Not quite the same, but I remember when people escaped from the former Soviet Union and arrived in the US, some could not cope, especially with all the choices they had to make living in US society, and a few returned to the USSR.

Right now the Iraqi people unfortunately don't have the luxury of time and peace in which to adjust. The Iraqis will have to be a brave and strong people to make it, but I think you can do it.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Son of Two Rivers,

I apologize for not commenting on your site for some time, since I know you enjoy reading the posts of your readers.

To continue along the line you, and other Iraqis (Iraq the Model, Ali on Free Iraqi, etc.), this is your quest. We, as Americans, can only present the facts and the truths we have found within our own culture and society. Some of these will be directly translatable to Iraqi culture. We all understand the concepts of good and evil, and the ability of Democracy to provide a medium for the creation of the "Greater Good". What is the "Greater Good" in America is different than the "Greater Good" in Russia, England, Israel, or Iraq. You must discover it through discourse and debate. That is the structure we are helping you to create.

You seem to have already discovered this, though. I am impressed (and I'm not trying to sound condescending) by how much you have taken to the concepts of Democracy in just these past few months. It has a distinctly Iraqi flair, and only strengthens my resolve for original support for American intervention. I, and many others (including the Administration), had faith in the Iraqi people to create Democracy in their own image.

Now we can be companions on the path of Democracy. I do not believe the path has an end anywhere in sight. Democracy is a neverending quest towards the "Greater Good". America can walk beside you, instead of in front of you. And together, with all of the other great Democratic nations of our world, we can search for the world's "Greater Good". Faith will guide us.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Patty-Jo said...

What Pat said in her comment made me think also of when the slaves were freed here in the 1800's. They faced many hardships, and in some places still do. There were some that prefered to stay in bondage rather than face the hazards of a world they were poorly equiped to survive in. Some chose to leave the country altogether. There are some similarities, but there is also a big difference. Iraq is your country. You were not brought there against your will. Iraq is your heritage. It was stolen from you, and you were forced into bondage. You now have the opportunity to take it back. To stand up, plant your feet, and fight for what is yours by birth. If you were to ask the descendents of the slaves that chose to fight for their place in America, not one would tell you that bondage was better.

4:34 AM  
Blogger MonicaR said...

Thank you for these wonderful thoughts. Change is scary even if it is good change. I have so much faith in the Iraqis after reading Iraqi blogs. You are going to be fine. I am behind you 100%.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Austin said...

picture of zoroastrianism
Declaration of Heaven on Earth!
picture of zoroastrianism
Please chant this prayer to recieve heaven on earth:
picture of zoroastrianism
Dearest, greatest, holiest!
Please give us all, the full heaven on earth!
I thank you, & I worship you.
picture of zoroastrianism

10:06 PM  

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