Sunday, October 01, 2006

Do we need the Americans?(I)

In an interview in the Washington Post, Iraqi President Jalal Talibani said Iraq still needs foreign troops and would like a small U.S. presence of 10,000 troops and two airbases for the long term.

Does Iraq, or some other countries, really need foreign existence on its soil? What criterion is to decide it? Is it Iraq sovereignty? And what is it meant by 'sovereignty' in the new globalized world. Would such U.S. troops presence violate Iraq sovereignty?

I recall a Sudanese, on the BBC radio, called for 'benign occupation' of countries like Iraq & Sudan. His perspective was that such countries need to be rehabilitated and they need a foreign rational power to do it.

President Talabani views this presence as a deterrent to non-Iraqis from interfering in Iraq's affairs.
"The presence of American forces -- even a symbolic one -- will frighten those who are trying to interfere in our affairs."
This is good, but what about the internal policy of any future Iraqi government. Will this presence observe the US & Iraqi government interests only? What about the Iraqi people. On November 12, 2004 Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a joint press conference with President Bush:
"We have to complete our mission in Iraq, make sure that Iraq is a stable and a democratic country."
Mr. Blair emphasized on making sure of stable and "democratic" Iraq. But the words of Mr. Talabani sounds like as if he does not reject the idea of having only "stable" Iraq or as Mr. Blair put it:
“…when I was first a member of Parliament and making my way up the greasy pole and all the rest of it, there was a view in foreign policy that you dealt with countries on the basis of whatever attitude they had towards you, but really whatever they did within their own countries, that was up to them, and didn't really make a difference to your long-term relationship…”
Mr. Blair added:
"I think what we are learning today is that there is not stability of any true, long-term kind without democratic rights for free people to decide their government."
And that what people of Iraq is looking for. To keep a close eye on the Iraqi political elite performance is very important. The US has to patronize the new Iraqi political process for many coming years. This does not mean to keep a large number of troops in Iraq, but a number like what Mr. Talabani referred to might be sufficient.

These troops should be intended to keep any future Iraqi government on the rail of democracy. I believe these troops should have another mission. That is to prevent any kind of coups which derail the political life in Iraq.

The Americans have to keep on watching the adherence of any Iraqi government to the basic human rights. The most important among these, as I believe, is the freedom of opinion & expression. Being free to speak & criticize would help a lot in making improvements in different sectors of life.

Though the heavy existence of the Americans in Iraq, stark images of oppressing free speech are taking place. So what would happen if the Americans paid no attention to the political and human rights aspects and focused on their interests, assuming human rights are not included, according to the old method described above by Mr. Blair?

Ali Fadhil wrote in the
New York Times:
"With American encouragement, Iraq produced a generation of young journalists who are decades ahead of their counterparts elsewhere in the region."
"In the last year, however, as successive short-term governments have taken power in Baghdad, American support for the Iraqi news media has waned."
This led to:
"In mid-July, the Iraqi prime minister threatened to close any news media outlet that insufficiently supports the Iraqi government in its fight against sectarian violence. I fear that if this government survives, the press in Iraq will become similar to that in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Syria. This is bad news at a time when the Iraqi press needs protection more than ever."
Aljazeera TV office in Baghdad had been banned from working by Alawi government and recently Alarabya TV office has been suspended from reporting for a month for some blur reason. No regulations are clear for media work in Iraq. Aljazeera & Alarabya are still reporting from the US. Though there were several occasions of criticism by American officials to their conduct, but no one could stop them from working in the States. It shows the difference between a civilized community (the US) and an uncivilized one (Iraq).
Among many parties, recounted by Ali Fadhil, which target Iraqi journalists is:
"The American soldiers who were so helpful to us in the early days of the occupation now have a different attitude. By 2005, if an Iraqi journalist aimed a camera at a United States Army convoy, the soldiers’ rules of engagement allowed them to shoot. American soldiers have been responsible for the deaths of about 14 journalists in Iraq, the majority of them Iraqis."
His speculation is:
"The Iraqi people, however, will continue to suffer. There will be new mass murders, committed or encouraged by the very same people who denounced the killings under Saddam Hussein. And just as back then, there will be no news media to inform the world."
To prevent this, Iraq needs American existence (a military one or another). And the symbolic American presence asked for by Mr. Talabani is to be in favor of the Iraqi people & not a non-democratic government which maintains the US interests.

The question is "What makes the US work hard to create new civilized society in Iraq?" Is the US a charitable institution to help Iraq for nothing?
To be continued…


Blogger Zappy Corleone said...

If you are in quicksand you do your best to get out of it, when the U.S. got mixed up in this thing, without resonable planning and without the blessings of the U.N. things got Bad, I mean Really Bad.
and I think its much too late to correct that mistake.
Iraq was always ruled by dictators, Arabs always search for a "Hero" since they have always been desprate since the Death of Mohammed.
what the masses need to learn is that start ruling your own homes kindly, talk to you naghbour, don't be hard minded, open up and respect the other sides point of view.
a small example, we have to learn to stand in a queue without somebody cutting us off because hes a government official or something, when "All" Iraqis learn that, then they can govern themselves without an Iron fist.


8:36 AM  
Blogger Noah said...

This was a great post. I liked your analysis of the current & future presence of Americans in Iraq and look forward to Part II.

My answer to your question at the end is American self-interest. A civilised Iraq makes the world a safer place for America and civilised Iraq gives America a valuable ally in the Middle East.

12:18 AM  

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