Friday, May 21, 2004

The Fall Of The Iraqi Dream?

Ghassan Charbel Al-Hayat 2004/05/16

The neo-conservatives dealt with the 9/11 catastrophe as a rare opportunity to launch a project that is impossible to execute had the United States not been attacked on its own soil. This is how the "Iraqi dream" was born; it was a great adventure. It took the terrible event as an opportunity to go far with its right of self-defense, until it reached the right to launch preemptive attacks and change regimes and regions. The Iraqi situation was the ideal choice. A regime that violated the international borders and resolutions, and used toxic gases against Iranians and Iraqis alike. A regime accused of perpetrating the nuclear dream and stocking weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). A regime at the heart of the region that is accused of producing generations of people of the same mold of the perpetrated the New York and Washington attacks. An oil rich regime in international and regional isolation.

The Iraqi dream was big and dangerous. This is how WMDs and terror were linked. The files were injected with worries, fears, and justified war. Hence, the Iraqi dream was transformed into a project of a coup against international legitimacy and opposition of the other major powers. The Iraqi dream stipulated the launching of change in the Middle East through Iraq. Changing regimes or policies. It began with the illusion of establishing a democratic model over the rubble of Saddam Hussein's regime. Rumors of this regime's rays were used to embarrass and subdue the neighboring countries. The objective was to push the region's countries to accept what they had rejected long before, i.e. adopting the values and methods the U.S. wants to be available in those who desire to get an ordinary membership in the international community and the "modern world."

The Iraqi dream did not live long. The occupation forces seemed very good in undermining Saddam Hussein's regime. That same army seemed strange in dealing with the people it liberated from Saddam's regime. The American administration showed the post-Saddam Iraq total ignorance of Iraq's structure, the feelings of its citizens, their expectations and real authorities. The gap seemed very wide between the occupier's theories and the on the ground realities. The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime was not a blow against terror. It provided the mobile fighters an arena and an opportunity to repeat the Afghan experience in a region that is even more dangerous and terrible. The move of the crushing military machine on the ground that is full of sharp feelings and symbols made it clash with the Iraqi groups and their ambitions.

The U.S. considered transferring the authority to the Iraqis on June 30 as a chance to prove the success. One who observes the developments understands that the Iraqi dream collapsed. The reasons are far deeper that the violations of the Iraqi detainees' rights, although the violations doubled the trouble and the embarrassment. From Paul Bremer talking for the first time about withdrawal, to seeking the help of Lakhdar Al Ibrahimi and reaching the discussion with the top anti-war people to draft a new international resolution, it is clear that the Iraqi dream was not only a costly adventure but also an expensive one. It is still early to talk of total American defeat; however, it is sure that we are witnessing the Bush administration shifting from the Iraqi dream to search for exits that postpone discussing the withdrawal issue to after the American elections.

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