Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What's Next?

It was a day of understated headlines and conflicting images, wouldn't you agree? Nothing ruins a party mood quite like a car bomb detonated in the middle of a busy food market. Thirty people were killed and 90 injured in the bombing in Kirkuk yesterday - the very day Iraqis had declared National Sovereignty Day to mark the withdrawal US combat troops from their cities. The Iraqi government designated it a national holiday, and there was - literally - dancing in the streets.
Iraqi police celebrating the departure of US troops
Only US "advisers" and "trainers" were left behind. Now, we are all to believe 130,000 American troops are hanging around on the outskirts of Iraq's towns just in case they are needed. Whatever that means. One Iraqi man described it as watching the disruptive guest you've had in your house leave, only to have him move into the house next door. It hurts my head a bit to try to figure out the politics of our baby-stepping in Iraq. What happens now if Sunnis and Shi'ites or Arabs and Kurds begin killing each other? To which side do we run? But I digress - as it is so easy to do when thinking about our six-years-and-counting presence in Iraq. What's really gnawing at me today is this photo from Kirkuk...
Scene of car bombing at food market in Kirkuk - 6/30/09
Imagine something like this happening at your neighborhood HEB or Albertsons or Kroger. Let's say it's this Saturday - the day we have set aside to celebrate our own nation's sovereignty. It's a holiday, and you are preparing for a family gathering filled with special summer foods, fireworks, and fun. I'm guessing there's a chance that you, or one of your family members, or one of your neighbors, would be among the injured or killed at the market. The party mood would vanish. And the day would be changed forever. You would no longer be able to let the 4th of July pass with patriotic flavored flag waving, parade watching, and watermelon eating. The day would, forevermore, hold the memory of untimely death, needless violence, and national uncertainty. This kind of day is now the day of National Sovereignty for Iraqis. They can show us parades and dancing and flag waving and smiles in front of our cameras, but I'm guessing they turned off their lights last night and worried about what comes next.
Patrolling and peacekeeping in their cities, on their streets, and outside their food markets is now their business, as it should be...
Iraqi policewoman
But I wonder - how long would it be before you felt safe sending your daughter to the grocery store for a bag of ice? It seems we are a long, long way from peace in Iraq.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We have spent six years teaching faith in a culture of politically motivated violence to Iraq and the rest of the world. I am not suggesting we originated the idea, but we have made it plain that we believe in the rule of bombs rather than the rule of better ideas.

I am sure some will say that our bombs open a free space for better idea to exist...I don't believe it. Whatever success the US has had with it's guns and bombs(and there have been many) were successes fueled by greater ideas...greater purposes. They were not successes of greater guns brandished for selfish aims with lip-service to some pretty ideas.

We as a people have clearly come to believe guns and bombs are enough to solve political problems. They have never been enough...not in all of human history.

Despite the fact that our ideals fuel tank is almost empty, we have a few years left to glide on our super-power status. But it is time for a mid-air refueling of selfless national ideals: rejection of unearned power, privilege and rule by wealth; commitment to equal rights for all persons worldwide...not just for us. The small ideas of rule by wealth and violence cannot sustain us, or Iraq, or Iran, or North Korea or any other people. It is time for us to return to the ideals spelled out in our Declaration of Independence...to live and teach that culture. Then when the disenfranchised around the world emulate our methods we can be happy rather than frightened.

- DC