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Monday, November 10, 2003
 
Why They Might Not Trust Us

A couple things:

In Iraq, they remember what we did to Mossadeq. They know we supported Saddam, both directly before the Gulf War, and implicitly, by allowing Shi'a and Kurdish uprisings to fail. They watched as we repeatedly raised Arab and Muslim hopes by attempting to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, only to experience complete political failure at every critical moment.

Iraqis study in history class what we did to Central and South America, what we did to the Phillipines, to Vietnam, to Panama. They read about how we gained dominion over our own country. We talked fast, shot often, and changed the rules at whim. While we told ourselves how noble and upright we were, Iraqis were learning about the treatment we reserve for countries that cross us.

Please note, this is a departure from my usual (well-informed and entirely justified) partisanship; presidents and congresses of both parties perpetuated this.

They know we do what's good for us, and f*ck everyone else. We've killed tens of thousands of Iraqis over the years, and a lot of them hate us. There is no end in sight to the resistance to our attempts to enforce our will on the country. This is what our government has gotten us into, and, short of crawling out with our tail between our legs (to let the Iraqis shoot it out for themselves) this is what we've got to get out of.

Why would we expect them to trust us? I detect a genuine bafflement on the part of the neocons that the Iraqis by and large do not accede to our superior culture and technology. "Why aren't they cheering?"

Let's be realistic: we've got leagues to go before the average Arab trusts any appendage of the United States. We should have accounted for this upon going into Iraq, but it's no less essential now. We need to be implementing simple programs, with definite, concrete goals. We need to instill security, to reconstitute the Iraqi army in the form of a police force, and back it up where necessary. We need to stick to our non-gun guns long enough and consistently enough that it has a chance to sink into the heads of our deeply skeptical audience. And we need to do it in the face of continuing attacks.