Sunday, November 26, 2006

Solution #298 : Reanimation

Spring 2005, we stayed the night in a friend's house in Hay al-Jami'a. There were four of us, next day was Friday - For some reason, we decided to go to the Friday prayer, the big problem back then was that I was wearing a Metallica t-shirt, our host, despite being several sizes larger than yours truly, did manage to produce out a shirt from his 'early cum period', sheesh! I didn't have another choice. We went walking, listened to the sermon, and prayed. Not one of us has looked twice on the fact that one of us, Haidar, is Shi'ite. He prayed with his hands down like a good Shi'ite as the sole abnormality in the line of hand-over-hand Sunnis, we did pray at the back, but still.

Looking back...this memory is almost looney in the suggestions it implies, and what maddens me the most even more is that it only happened a year ago, not five or ten years! Today, even thinking of him going out with is out of the question.
A few days earlier, I contacted a Shiite friend of mine, Laith, who lives in Najaf via e-mail, after a few jokes, I winded him into a religious debate we've been having for several months - I have been keenly researching the Sunni-Shiite conflict and was interested to find out what he, the most religious Shiite friend of mine thinks. That day, I asked him whether it was okay for a Shi'ite to pray with Sunnis, he said: "Well, some Shi'ites drink wine." He equated praying with a Sunni with a highly punishable vice.

Today, people like my Laith (who, despite having a computer full of pro-Iran files and prays in quasi-Persian, is one of the people I truly love) is all over the place, and there is nobody doing anything to stop them ; Haidar is just as good a Shi'ite as Laith, in fact, Baathists once broke into Haidar's house and pulled his mother's hair, but he is a great moderate and I still see him as a great example of a model for a perfect co-existent Iraq. With the ghost of civil war materializing ever more, I was almost paralyzed when I remembered this little public praying-together.

When one looks at this chaotic condition of Iraq, it is hard to imagine how exactly had a single regime managed to effectively all this hocus-pocus under one banner. And out of desperation, sometimes one wonders about the idea of restoring that power.

There are many temptations. First, Saddam is perhaps the most psychologically effective weapon in Iraq in terms of stabilization. It is hard to argue against the fact that Saddam, despite his many crimes, has a formidable personality, his figure can inspire the "Patriotic National Resistance (lol)" beyond morale, and he is especially destructive to the psychosis of any good Shi'ite because of a two-fold reason that greatly applies to both the near-history and the far-history/psychology of the situation: Saddam's minions were monstrous when they quelled the 1991 uprising, and most importantly - Shia faith is built upon losing battles to tyrants, subscribed to intense victimization that is kept alive by a cinematic scope - a lot of modern Shiite leaders draw parrels between any unjust ruler to Hussein & Yazid's Karbala, how can you win against the pernnial 'tyrant' figure when even your holiest figures falied? I really think that in terms of at-hand stabilization, nobody can do it like Saddam, the running joke is that: "Saddam once said to prison ward, you know, if they'd let me get back at that chair for one hour I'd whip this country into shape."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah. 55 minutes to wash up, shave and wear new clothes, and 5 minutes to appear on TV."

But this is impossible for a great number of reasons:
Saddam's resurrection will be only a temporary band-aid, knowning him, he will greatly entrench Sunnis and completely butcher Shiites beyond suffering, learning his lesson, he will be the USA biggest tool and will not bother them again. Iran, his sworn enemy, may step up to the challenge, but I have the feeling that it cannot really withstand a determined Saddam/USA alliance. The sectarain tensions has heated up considerably, and this will eventually lead to a regional war at some point.
Most importantly, USA will lose face to the entire world, and won't be ever respected again in the same manner.

It's just a quick temp job that won't do the trick and will only lead to negative escalation of the regional conflict. Of course, There is a way of resurrecting part of Saddam's psychological advantage, perhaps by killing him, to eliminate any chance of his return, then reconcilling the remaining Baathists with some promises and installing a regime with Baathist traces that will not abuse Shiites, but uses the same brute force against everyone, with loyalty to Americans alone. So what if we are loyal to America? It's better than being loyal to al-Qaeda, Saddam, or any given Ayatollah - I wanna do the funky dance and eat my junk food, man. an Allawi-led regime could work to this advantage, given that many Iraqis now ironically remember his brief era as the rosy part of the post-invasion period.

16 comments:

beachmom1 said...

Interesting post, Kid. Tell you what -- why can't we just get you, your family, and your closest friends visas to America? I'd say that would be far cheaper for us in blood, treasury, and reputation than what you are suggesting.

I just can't wrap my mind around the fact that your country would rather go to war with itself than have a nice, peaceful, sovereign, stable one where people can just live their lives. It just doesn't make any sense that the choices are endless war or having an outside country dictate your future. Are there no wise leaders who have a third way?

madtom said...

How about we bomb Iraq with "Prozac gas" bombs

Matt said...

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. What do we do? What should we do? I don't think we would ever toy with the idea of putting Saddam in power. Besides, I honestly think with regards to him, we're keen on letting you guys do your think. An Iraqi court found him guilty and sentenced him to hang. That's case closed (with regards to Saddam) as far as I'm concerned. What do we do now? There doesn't seem to be any good way out of this, for any of us. You're right about Saddam, Kid. He was able to contain all this stuff we're seeing now. I have to say that is quite impressive.

Matt said...

Sorry, think should read thing.

Lynnette in Minnesota said...

Contain all this stuff?

Yeah, Saddam could do that all right. We could do it too. If we wanted to go in for the Dresden look.

*sigh*

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baka said...

even allawi can't do it now. see, alot of gangs have formed, it has undermind the iraqi society, it's not like before. do you see russia? there's still mafia there and they're still strong; their society was undermined after the second world war. Iraq now is just like that. our society has been undermind. even if saddam is back, he can't destory all these organizations, no matter what. even if he does, new ones will quickly rise again.

I dunno man, it all seems pretty hopeless to me.

Gilgamish said...

iraq's biggest problem is that we never had a good leader, all our leaders, are bunch of zmayil and they destroyed our country.

saddam, no he did not unite the country, it was just this kind of mentality, even though purgeoning, but was not the norm, it is the problem with the iraqi society, they are great followers, and they have great responsive habit of listeing to great propaganda, it is rather the divise mentality taht came from the outside, from alhakim, chalabi ect.....

iraq could have tresspassed all the b.s. if we had one good, credible leader.

Look at malaysia, three or more religions, with so many ethinicity, and a progressing country and will soon be depart the third world countries' platoon.


my fifty cents.

ella said...

Baka

The russian society has been undermined by comunists and particularly by Stalin's rule, and not by the 2nd WW.

Gilgamesh
Unfortunately Iraqi civil society has been, in my view, destroyed by Saddam. I don't agree that it is question of mentality, it is mainly the regime which undermined iraqis, and a habit unthinkingly following "the man" even if it was present before was reinforced during his regime. As was the idea that force will get you everything.
iraq could have tresspassed all the b.s. if we had one good, credible leader.
Many things could have happened. What is important now is for Iraq to get out of the present situation.

Magda said...

For many years waiting daily for the news broadcast that Saddam had been killed / overthrown I had wished it would be on the hands of one of his own, or from the military, it seemed at the time our best way out.

My grandmother once told me that in the days of the Iraqi Kingdom someone (maybe Abdul Illah) said "Iraq is a septic tank and I am the lid", and all Iraqis know Ali's phrase "Iraq the land of separation and bigotry, you have filled my heart with pus" in some part at least our current problems stem form an deeply ingrained myth that we Iraqis are somehow uniquely evil among men and will always need a "strong=brutal" leader, otherwise we will amount to nothing. This mentality continues to serve those who chose to benefit from the destruction of all of us.

Until we can overcome this mentality it will remain a self-perpetuating reality.

Bruno said...

Kid –

That was a really excellent post.

Very enjoyable indeed.

You touched on a point that I had also been wondering a lot about.

IS there any fundamental difference in ideology between Shia and Sunna? I mean beyond the obvious Ali schism? Are there any things that Sunna do that are haram to Shia and vice versa? To me, frankly, the differences seem blown out of proportion. Perhaps you could post on this sometime.

[kid] “Saddam's resurrection will be only a temporary band-aid, knowning him, he will greatly entrench Sunnis and completely butcher Shiites beyond suffering,”

Oh, for sure. Which is why I don’t cry about the patently unjust trial he has been subjected to, he deserves it. But even his powers are beyond recovering the situation via a bloodbath. I believe that the situation must be resolved via mainly political measures. Such as the US agreeing to a withdrawal and the UN mediating between the powers on an area – by area basis.

[kid] “Most importantly, USA will lose face to the entire world”

And that’s the REAL reason why Saddam will never come back.

[kid] “So what if we are loyal to America? It's better than being loyal to al-Qaeda, Saddam, or any given Ayatollah - I wanna do the funky dance and eat my junk food, man. an Allawi-led regime could work to this advantage … ”

I believe the entire purpose of the “Salvador Option” was to force this change in thinking.

And at this point, with Iraqi blood running in streams down the streets, perhaps bowing to force is not so awful after all.

I dunno.

It’s your country, after all.

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annie said...

I just can't wrap my mind around the fact that your country would rather go to war with itself than have a nice, peaceful, sovereign, stable one where people can just live their lives. and spend years of servitude w/those psa's the occupying country is demanding of you and will never leave you alone without.

So what if we are loyal to America?

there is nothing wrong w/being loyal kid. i don't think that is the issue here. it is being loyal to a constitution that is really not your own. it is being loyal to oil contracts that are not in your best interests. it is honoring agreements any sane country would not want to enter in to. if the requirements of loyalty were not so damn horrible, if the US global elite money guys were not so interested in screwing iraq over financially, iraqis would be clamoring to be loyal to america. whats best for the goose, is not always best for the gander. only when it is, is loyalty a good deal. sadam knew that, sadr knows that, al dhari knows that , maliki knows that and cheneyco/baker knows it too.

which brings us right back to why everything has come to a head.those pesky psa's haven't been signed and people are becoming very very impatient. of course if that requirement were off the table (never!) things would calm down significantly. but no, that will not be the case. until iraq finds someone to bow down to these conditions there will be mass turmoil. the kind of strong leader who could pull iraq together would never consider the kind of deal america is making. and there is your problem. you need a strongman who can bend over and take it where the sun don't shine. do they make those?

Anonymous said...

if the requirements of loyalty were not so damn horrible, if the US global elite money guys were not so interested in screwing iraq over financially

That's funny! Is that really what you are worried about? What a great reason to bomb and burn each other over!

Too bad you don't realize all the Americans want for Iraqis is to live in a peaceful democracy! Oh well!

Just stop killing each other and you can have all the oil back! We'll pay you 10 times what you pay for it. I swear!

David said...

Hello Kid,

Well, BT said that he would prefer Saddam to the current horrific violence. I agreed with him on that. As evil as Saddam was, he did not kill this many people.

Do you ever read Raed in the Middle by Raed Jarrar? His last two posts are talking about a new coalition that is forming between Iraqi Sunni and Shia. Who knows if it will amount to anything, but at this point anything that may help save lives is of interest to me.
Btw, I told Tamara that you were actually a very nice guy (based on what Mel told me). ;)

Tsedek said...

Iraq needs his own Jerry Rawlings. Coup - terror - calm down and then evolve into a democracy - just like he did for Ghana.