Sunday, December 25, 2005

Iraqi Blogger Misguided about Occupation

Tibor R. Machan

The December 18, 2005, New York Times featured some Iraqi bloggers commenting on their recent election. No enthusiastic samples were selected by The Time—naturally, since the editors there probably don’t like what has transpired—but some of them were revealing about how ill-educated certaikn Iraqis are. Here is one of the featured entries:

" Will the new government be stronger or more reliable than the several interim governments we've had? Not likely. A government won't be respected unless it is perceived as sovereign by the people, and occupation in itself goes against every suggestion of sovereignty and democracy. How does one put faith in a government that needs the use of foreign armies to keep it in power?"

I lived in Munich Germany in the early 1950s when the US was the occupying force there, much more deeply entrenched than the US is in Iraq and for a very long time. Indeed, some of the elements of American occupation are still evident throughout Germany.

Why was Germany occupied? In large measure because the country and the US had been at war and the US won and was very concerned that Germany might not accept its defeat. Moreover, many American officials believed that for Germany to recover from the effects of Hitler’s war, it needed American forces—influence, example, and money—in that country for a while.

I am sure there were some other reasons, maybe even dubious ones, underlying the policy of occupation. But there is little question that there were some very good reasons for it, under the circumstances. Moreover, judging by my own experience of living among both Germans and Americans in Munich for three years, the occupation was quite peaceful, although there were plenty of disturbing incidents involving American soldiers as well as German citizens not very happy about the situation.
All in all the US occupation was very different from the Soviet occupation of Hungary, for example, which I also experienced first hand.

So, there is little doubt in my mind that given the vicious war the Germans waged against several countries and the final solution they were carrying out against Jews and others, the occupation was not some vicious deed perpetrated by the Americans. (I do know some folks in America who would probably make such a claim and I, both as someone with a reasonably
decent historical awareness and my personal familiarity with many who supported Hitler, find it incredible for any sane person to side with the Hitler bunch in any respect whatsoever.)

Now what if anything does this have to do with Iraq and the
sentiments of the person whose blog The Times so dutifully reproduced for its readers? Simply that occupation is not at all the horrible thing some make it out to be. I have opposed the Iraqi war all along but by no means because I think Saddam Hussein and his regime was anything other than a vicious, murderous dictatorship that posed a threat to millions of human
beings in the Middle East. Once, however, the war commenced, the good guys were, all things considered, the Americans and those Iraqis who sided with them. But because there are thousands and thousands of contrarians in Iraq and its neighboring countries, ones who would delight in reversing the current trend toward a more civilized society in that country, and since the country is far from having developed an effective defense of the new order from such enemies of the change, the occupation makes sense. It also makes sense from the viewpoint of the Americans who seriously believe that the war was justified and that those who were ousted are very dangerous still and should not be left to destroy what has been achieved.

In any case, all of this is quite complicated but it is not
complicated that occupying a country defeated in war by those who won and are, by all accounts, the better lot, is nothing to be very upset about.

I think the Iraqi blogger doesn’t get it and should do some study of the history of occupations to appreciate whether such a thing can have merit and be justified. Maybe that will calm this blogger’s nerves a bit about such a prospect and may indeed render it something of a welcome development.

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