Author Topic: IRAQ - Toward the Dark Ages?  (Read 2964 times)

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Offline TomS

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IRAQ - Toward the Dark Ages?
« on: June 24, 2003, 09:19:14 AM »
From CNN:

BASRA, Iraq -- Still no luck in my quest to help the administration find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But meanwhile, I'm getting the impression that America fought Saddam, and the Islamic fundamentalists won.

For a glimpse of the Islamic state that Iraq may be evolving into, consider the street execution of an infidel named Sabah Ghazali.

Under Saddam Hussein, Christians like Mr. Ghazali, 41, were allowed to sell alcohol and were protected from Muslim extremists. But lately extremists have been threatening to kill anyone selling alcohol. One day last month, two men walked over to Mr. Ghazali as he was unlocking his shop door and shot him in the head — the second liquor store owner they had killed that morning.

An iron curtain of fundamentalism risks falling over Iraq, with particularly grievous implications for girls and women. President Bush hopes that Iraq will turn into a shining model of democracy, and that could still happen. But for now it's the Shiite fundamentalists who are gaining ground.

Already, almost every liquor shop in southern Iraq appears to have been forcibly closed. Here in Basra, Islamists have asked Basra University (unsuccessfully) to separate male and female students, and shopkeepers have put up signs like: "Sister, cover your hair." Many more women are giving in to the pressure and wearing the hijab head covering.

"Every woman is afraid," said Sarah Alak, a 22-year-old computer engineering student at Basra University. Ms. Alak never used to wear a hijab, but after Saddam fell her father asked her to wear one on the university campus, "just to avoid trouble."

Extremists also threatened Basra's cinemas for showing pornography (like female knees). So the city's movie theaters closed down for two weeks and reopened only after taking down outside posters and putting up banners, like this one outside the Watani Cinema: "We do not deal with immoral movies."

"We're now searching all customers as they enter the movie theater," said Abdel Baki Youssef, a guard at the Atlas Cinema. "Everybody is worried about an attack."

Paradoxically, a more democratic Iraq may also be a more repressive one; it may well be that a majority of Iraqis favor more curbs on professional women and on religious minorities. As Fareed Zakaria notes in his smart new book, "The Future of Freedom," unless majority rule is accompanied by legal protections, tolerance and respect for minorities, the result can be populist repression.

Women did relatively well under Saddam Hussein (when they weren't being tortured or executed, penalties that the regime applied on an equal opportunity basis). In the science faculty at Basra University, 80 percent of the students are women. Iraq won't follow the theocratic model of Iran, but it could end up as Iran Lite: an Islamic state, but ruled by politicians rather than ayatollahs. I get the sense that's the system many Iraqis seek.

"Democracy means choosing what people want, not what the West wants," notes Abdul Karim al-Enzi, a leader of the Dawa Party, a Shiite fundamentalist party that is winning support in much of the country.

Mr. Enzi is the kind of figure who resonates in mud-brick Iraqi villages in a way that secular American-backed exiles like Ahmad Chalabi don't. While Mr. Chalabi was dining in London, Mr. Enzi was risking his life on secret spy missions for the Dawa Party within Iraq, entering from his base in Iran.

Four of his brothers and one sister were executed for anti-government activities, and Mr. Enzi was himself sentenced to death in absentia in 1979. He was once arrested in Iraq on a spy mission, but officials did not realize who he was and released him a month later. I found Mr. Enzi brave, admirable and medieval.

What should we do about this?

I'm afraid there's not much we can do to discourage fundamentalism in Iraq, although staying the course and building a legal system may help. For now, the U.S. seems to be making matters worse by raiding offices of Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim, who ran an anti-Saddam organization from exile in Iran and who in the past advocated an Islamic government. Cold-shouldering Mr. Hakim is counterproductive. It bolsters his legitimacy as a nationalist and further radicalizes his followers.

We may just have to get used to the idea that we have been midwives to growing Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq.

 :(

Offline Anastasios

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Re:IRAQ - Toward the Dark Ages?
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2003, 09:53:30 AM »
It's my opinion that we have no idea how Iraq will turn out.  We have only been there a few months, and these things take years.  I fault the news media for turning people into jittery, blow-by-blow account speculators.  I am guilty of this myself.  But it will take years to see how things will go.  If we keep our word to the Iraqis and help them rebuild, their respect for us will go up.  If we mess around with them or cave in to the Shiites, we will be sorry.

Despite the fact and maybe in spite of the fact that we nuked Japan (something I am against 100%, while supporting the war on the agressor Japanese state) we established a bond with the Japanese and now we have good business and cultural exchanges with them.  I think we could do this with Iraq.  The problem is that Japan was an isolate and Iraq is not--30 or so other Arab states can inluence it.  We shall see.

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Offline The young fogey

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Re:IRAQ - Toward the Dark Ages?
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2003, 10:11:25 AM »
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It's my opinion that we have no idea how Iraq will turn out.

Of course not, and unless they have ICBMs aimed at New York and Washington, it's none of America's business either.

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We have only been there a few months, and these things take years.

'We' have no business being there, months or years.

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I fault the news media for turning people into jittery, blow-by-blow account speculators.

Thank God for the non-American news services that tell it like it is.

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If we keep our word to the Iraqis and help them rebuild, their respect for us will go up.  If we mess around with them or cave in to the Shiites, we will be sorry.

Uh, the Iraqis didn't ask Bush's handlers to invade and occupy their country.

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supporting the war on the aggressor Japanese state

Imperial Japan had no designs on the US. Teasing them into attacking US bases was simply Roosevelt's murderous way of suckering the US into Europe's war.

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we established a bond with the Japanese and now we have good business and cultural exchanges with them

Worldwide pax Americana - that's imperial Rome, not the idea of the founding fathers.

The US has no God-given right to make Iraq a de facto American colony as it did to Japan.
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Offline TomS

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Re:IRAQ - Toward the Dark Ages?
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2003, 10:17:14 AM »
Your analogy to Japan --

Just as in Vietnam - You can't relate Iraq to Japan and Germany after WWII.

The HUGE difference is that the spirit of the Japanese and German people was totally crushed by the end of the war. And all the fanatics at that point were dead. After a year of bombing and the killing of many many civilians, the fight in them was GONE. They were sheep at that point.

That is not the case in Iraq.

Offline Anastasios

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Re:IRAQ - Toward the Dark Ages?
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2003, 11:16:46 AM »
Serge,

There is no sufficient evidence that Roosevelt tempted Japan into World War II and in fact much of the evidence used by isolationists has been debunked.  This article has a lot of links both revisionist and anti-revisionist, and is worth checking out:

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/article.cfm?Id=577

The standard anti-revisionist book mentioned is:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0140159096/qid=1056467606/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-6828352-4460048?v=glance&s=books  which places the blame on ignorance, messing up, a lack of Japanese translators, and a lack of communication from one level to another.  Hardly a sinister plot.

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Offline Anastasios

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Re:IRAQ - Toward the Dark Ages?
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2003, 11:17:57 AM »
Serge,

We disagree on whether the Iraq war SHOULD have happened, but it did, and as such, America having taken out Iraq's economy, is morally obligated to restore it.  As such, I am arguing in the realm of practicality: we did the damage, now how are we going to fix it?

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Offline Anastasios

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Re:IRAQ - Toward the Dark Ages?
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2003, 11:20:52 AM »
Tom,

You make a good point about a broken spirit.  But I think that what we see on TV, the protestors, represents the poor and semi-literate "masses" and not the people that actually wield power.  I saw the same thing in India among Muslims: the only people that actually hated America were: 1) poor people 2) religious fanatics (who are always a small minority) and 3) super wealthy people who are ideologues and who usually studied in the West and hated it.  Middle class people and most rich people like the West.

Arab countries could be different but they share the Muslim cultural-religious background.

That's why I believe that things will turn out a-ok in Iraq.

anastasios
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Offline Anastasios

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Re:IRAQ - Toward the Dark Ages?
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2003, 11:23:46 AM »
Serge,

I can't let you take my comment about on-the-spot, instant action news reporting and turn it into an Anti-American-reporting statement.  It doesn't matter if it's American or not, Internet based, TV based, or Radio based, first world or third world, etc.  All news is geared towards entertainment these days and people are accustomed to speculation and instant commentary.  Much of the stuff comming from the BBC (which was anti-war) was just as hilarious and stupid as CNN: the BBC was predicting emminent catastrophe for the Americans and British after every gunshot, which of course did not happen.

That's why I prefer reading scholarly journals and books over new wire stories.  I find them interesting, but in 6 months or a year the facts will be clearer and will have been discussed via peer review in published articles, and thus more trustworthy.

anastasios
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Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism and may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.