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Cry Me A Riverbend II

Friday, May 28, 2004

Raeding Raed

I haven't covered Raed since I started. The Jarrars have been so busy lately, that its difficult to keep up. He posted last Wednesday about Chalabi, and I just didn't have the time to review it with any justice. I'm not going to go back. I'll just deal with Saturday's post, except for one thing he said back then that I think is pertinent when reviewing it:
When the American army attacked Baghdad, at that sad day 13 months ago...

I've been calling the Jarrars pessimists about the new Iraq. I've seen my argument with the Jarrars as the problem of Iraqi ambivalence about whether to be glad that Saddam was removed or sorry to see infidels and non-Arabs succeed over a strong Arab leader.

But this statement (I don't think the context puts it in a better light) seems quite declarative to me that Raed is not just a pessimist. Like Riverbend, he was a supporter of the Saddam regime. He's not just nostalgic; he's a reactionary; a Saddamite. He's like those dead-enders celebrating Saddam's birthday in Falujah, Tikrit, and Samarra while his regime collapsed around their ears last year. He's not disillusioned by the American occupation; he was against any change in the direction of Iraq from the beginning. This strikes me as being of major importance when reading Saturday's post.

Now to Raed's latest post:
So yeah. Finally, we have a president and a prime minister. So “they” selected our president and prime minister in a small meeting, But they couldn’t even announce the place of their meeting!!! Haha! What a great strong authority! Hiding in a dark smelly shelter someplace in the “green zone”, and announcing fake governments…People from the new Iraqi government don’t have the power to guarantee their personal safety! How are they supposed to rule a country like IRAQ?

Well, obviously they won't rule it like Saddam who had everyone terrified of thinking in a counter-regime way at night under their covers; where everyone constantly analyzed every word and deed to be sure it couldn't possibly be interpreted as a sign of anything but that they were hopelessly in love with Saddam. However, they knew it might not matter anyway, since arbitrary punishment was part of Saddam's tactic for remaining in power.

Maybe Raed would think better of their administration if all the members of the Iraqi Council had 12 body-doubles running around to confuse assassins and never stayed in the same place for more than a few hours.
The huge disasters we, Iraqis, have after 15 months of the unjustified American war are very difficult to be solved. The stupid mistakes of the bush administration started more than [one] cancer in the exhausted body of Iraq, all of these right winged militias that grew over the last year need decades to be removed.
(emphasis added)

Keep in mind that Raed thinks the biggest mistake Bush made was in not making Saddam's position in Iraq more secure. But the last clause I've emphasized here makes me sympathize for Raed a little more. The reason why Raed is a supporter of the Saddam regime was for fear of the Islamo-facists. Consider what he says next:
I was telling a French friend yesterday how miserable I feel, as a secular Muslim,** when I see the current Iraqi political status. I find myself marginised, as a leftist, by both the American administration and by the main stream of local right winged mood. Bush is helping extremist fundamentalists hijack the flag of Islam from people like me and niki.

Raed seems to believe that a new democratic Iraq will inevitably lead to the ascendency of the mullahs (and to some extent, with the new freedoms of religion and speech, it almost certainly will). He is one of those who saw Saddam as the bulwark against theocratic tyranny. This makes me feel a little sorry for Raed in the same way I do for Riverbend. He's got himself seeing things one certain way so that he can't see the way out even when the door is opened in front of him. By the same token, the passage out that he thinks the Coalition has blocked up was nothing but a painted facade. Here's what I mean:

Certainly, Saddam did represent secular rule throughout the 80s. But after Gulf War I and after the Kurdish/Shi'a uprisings, he increasingly allied himself with Sunni imams and Islamist militias (like Ansar Al-Aslam) to maintain his power (just as the Saud family dictorship has done in Saudi Arabia). He built lots of mosques, he paid out money to the families of suicide bombers in the West Bank (on their way to Paradise), he draped himself in religious symbols. Saddam's secular terror of the body and psyche was no alternative to the Islamofascist terror of the body and soul. And it was bound to only get worse. As Christopher Hitchens said May 18th on Scarborough Country on MSNBC:
Iraq was not just a rogue state run by a psychopathic sadist, but also a failed state...It was falling apart into sectarian warfare. It was falling into misery and destitution because of the sanctions administered by a corrupt and cynical United Nations.

And these divisions were being played upon in the nastiest possible way by the Baath Party. And there were neighboring countries interested in making their own interventions, indeed, as some Saudi and Iranian forces are indeed now doing. All that was going to happen if we let it run. And it would have been infinitely worse if there wasn‘t a Coalition force on hand to prevent it.

What you‘re seeing now is a pale shadow of what would have happened to Iraq if it had been allowed to implode. And we‘d now be having an inquest into look, who let this happen in Iraq? Why did we let it go the way of Rwanda and Somalia?

The answer for Raed is not to sneer at the new government and hope for it's failure. If it fails, the Islamist militias will certainly have their way over much of the country and sectarian/nationalist civil war will have its way over all of it. The way between where Iraq is now and what Raed wants for Iraq is for him to get behind Coalition's vision of the new Iraq and support it with everything he's got. Otherwise, he may find himself flogged through the streets of Baghdad (if he ever returns there) with nothing but the assurance that he was right to soothe the pain of his flagellations.

**Some have asked, what does Raed mean by "a secular Muslim"? How can one define himself religiously and as secular at the same time. Based on the context, I presume he means one that does not believe in theocratic rule.

Another possiblity (and they are not mutually exclusive) is suggested by a Christian missionary friend in West Bank Palestine who informed me that most Arabs don't see religion as most people do in the post-Christian era West. We think of religion as being something you choose. But does anyone remember the slaughter that went on in Lebanon between Christians and Muslims in the 80s? Those acts weren't directed from their local church. In the Middle East, to be a Muslim or Christian is like being Italian or Irish in America. It's all about whether your parents were Mulsim or Christian. To change religions is to renounce your parents, your brothers and sisters, and all your ancestors and choose another family. So Raed might conceivably be an atheist yet still see himself as Muslim as opposed to Christian.

UPDATE ON THE DEFINITION OF SECULAR MUSLIMS
Raed's girlfriend, Niki, has posted an explanation of what she and Raed mean when they call themselves "secular muslims".

UPDATE
I (sort of) regret that I must add Kurdo's World to the list of sites not enabling comments. His site is now a subject for discussion and commenting here. Over the last two weeks, Kurdo has grown increasingly disenchanted with the Coalition due to disappointment in concessions to Kurds in the Iraqi Council. If his comments are exemplary of Kurdish feeling, it seems to me that the Kurds want to see a federalized and independent Kurdistan as a means to eventually break off from Iraq and found an independent state. I think Kurdo chose to disable comments (and his email) due to readers saying how impractical that would be and how hurtful that would ultimately be for Iraqi Kurds. But I shall have more to say on this later.
UPDATE ON KURDO'S WORLD
Kurdo has not disabled commenting at his site. He has only changed the commenting method to BlogSpot's innate commenting feature.

UPDATE: Justify My Love II
From the Comments of this Entry, George has asked in his inimitable and intelligent manner:
hey [deleted], unless you are living in Iraq, what the hell gives you the right to criticize or even critique how they are feeling? Any we in America [sic] wonder why the world thinks we're a bunch of arrogant [deleted]......
George

To which I responded:
George,
Raed is not in Iraq either. He's in Jordan. No doubt you'll now want to broaden your criteria for commenting about Iraq ever so slightly.

But Inquiring Mind did not find my answer sufficient:
CMAR II - I think that you are evading George's question. Raed's current location notwithstanding, would you care to provide an answer? I for one would like to know a little more about you in order to better understand your perspective. What country do you live in? Have you ever been to the Middle East? If so, when and where? Have you ever served in the military? If so, when or where? Perhaps you could include this information in the "About Me" section. Thanks.
Inquiring Mind

Inquiring Mind,
First off, I don't think I evaded George's question at all. To the contrary. Afterall, George didn't ask about MY background. He asked (rhetorically, I believe) what right anyone had to "even critique" the Jarrars' blogs if he is not in Iraq. However, in that case, last January, Lynndie England was one of our wise sages and Raed was an ignorant busy-body. I don't think that, but that's the logical conclusion of George’s argument.

Since I don't think George would advocate such an absurdity, his obvious response would be to broaden his filter of entitled authorities (e.g. those in the Middle East) and attenuate it (e.g. only Iraqi nationals) until he has reached the demographic he wants.

How about this? What if this blog only consisted of excepts from other Iraqi blogs (Iraq the Model, Iraqi and Iraqis, Kurdos World, etc) as though they were responding to Raed? The authors are IN Iraq and Raed is not. Interesting idea for some, but not to me. But I might consider it if I thought it had a chance of changing George’s opinion. But it wouldn’t. He would still find Raed more credible in my opinion. He is not ideologically bound to his "Iraq only" criteria. It's just a debating device.

I don't intend to chase my tail playing the game of Show Your Papers. I like my current set up. I like playing the role of The Disembodied Voice Of Reason. I presume Reason to be universal and not subjective. If anyone finds what I say to be contrary to Reason, say so and show why. Don’t try to gather intellectual pillows to comfort yourself (and cover your ears) that “whatever he says, he only says it because he’s in the military, or he's in the CIA, or he's French, or he's Welsh, or he's Baha’i, or he lives in a Red State, or he's a Zionist, or he uses petroleum products” (most of which is not true, by the way).

Of course, for all I know, Inquiring Mind, you were only interested in my background out of prurient curiosity. Nevertheless, considering the angle and altitude of my analysis on this blog, I don’t believe knowledge of my background is pertinent, and I don’t intend to give it out just to satisfy idle interest.

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