Monday, April 09, 2007

Iraqis Being Ungrateful Again

The Washington Post has an article about the fourth Anniversary of Saddam Hussein's fall. For some reason, the people in Iraq are not in a celebratory mood.

In a garage filled with classic motorcycles, Khadim al-Jubouri stared at the four-year-old magazines he usually keeps tucked inside a wooden desk. All of them contained photographs of a lone, burly man wearing a black tank top and swinging a sledgehammer into the base of a tall, bronze statue of Saddam Hussein. The man was Jubouri.

Four years after that moment, with violence besieging the country, Jubouri is concerned with neither benchmarks nor timelines, troop strengths nor withdrawal dates. What he cares most about is security and order, of which, he said, he has seen very little. He blames Iraq's Shiite-led government and its security forces, and wishes for a return of the era led by the man whose statue he helped tear down.

"We got rid of a tyrant and tyranny. But we were surprised that after one thief had left, another 40 replaced him," said Jubouri, who is a Shiite Muslim. "Now, we regret that Saddam Hussein is gone, no matter how much we hated him."

This is not a post stating how wonderfully Saddam ruled Iraq. It's just so bad now that an iron fisted dictator is looking like the good old days to many people. You could walk through the streets. Freedom is not simply elections no matter how many purple fingers the Bush administration brags about. It is the ability to live safely in your home, be able to walk the streets at night, and not worry that your kids are going to be blown up if they go to school.

In this regard, Iraq was freer under Saddam Hussein. You had to say nice things about the dictator in public, but other than that, you woke up, went to work, played with your kids and lived your life. Our bungling of the occupation has made Iraqis realize that going to the polls every few years is small consolation for the chaos that has swept the country.

The media often gives short attention to what these past four years have done to the lives of Iraqi citizens. But even if we pull out today, and peace broke out, which is extremely unlikely, the war won't be over for these people for generations. 261 people are blown up in a market. That is in the news for a few days at best, then we move on to celebrity gossip.

The families of those 261 people will be living with that moment forever. A young child will be born in Iraq who lost a father, and uncle, or a cousin to that bomb. They will hopefully live another 70 years, but they will be constantly reminded of what happened. While our short attention spans trick us into believing the past doesn't matter, the future will be very bleak in Iraq. There is so much grief to be expressed in healthy and unhealthy ways that we as a world community will be dealing with it, when children not even born yet, become our politicians, and they wonder why Iraqis seem to hold such long grudges.