It's U.S. Policy That's `Untidy`

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Government And Politics, Iraq Views: 3656

How telling that U.S. forces so carefully protected Iraq's oil fields while ignoring the looting of Baghdad's internationally renowned museum. The complete, and by all accounts preventable, destruction of one of the world's most significant collections of antiquities is a fit metaphor for current U.S. foreign policy, which causes more serious damage through carelessness than calculation.

The notion that Iraq even has history -- let alone that 7,000 years ago this land was the cradle of civilization -- is not likely to occur to the neocolonialists running a brawny young nation barely more than 200 years old. The United States' earnest innocence is the charm that our entertainment industry markets so successfully around the world, but it is also the perennial seed of disaster as we blithely rearrange corners of the planet we only pretend to understand.

To Donald Rumsfeld, the widespread looting that has ravaged hospitals, libraries and museums in Iraq was simply further proof the U.S. invasion of this fractured Muslim country represents liberation. "Freedom's untidy," he said. "And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes." Translation: You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.

It almost sounds as if the Defense secretary is projecting onto the looters a blanket excuse for deadly errors the White House and the U.S. military have made and will continue to make in Iraq: alienating allies, killing civilians, handpicking craven and corrupt Iraqi "leaders" who haven't been in the country for decades. This is, after all, the distillation of the Bush Doctrine: Free countries are free to commit mistakes and commit crimes in unfree countries.

One wonders whether Rumsfeld would extend such tolerance to the United States' own 2 million prisoners. Surely he would not dismiss our country's long history of urban riots as an example of the untidiness of freedom? It is only in Iraq that we believe, to quote a song Janis Joplin made famous, that "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."

Yet neither the awesome display of U.S. military power or the slew of false justifications used to unleash it -- the imminent threat of Iraq's use of weapons of mass destruction, now likely to be proved nonexistent, or the unsubstantiated claims that Iraq is linked to 9/11 -- qualifies the U.S. to remake a nation with which we have absolutely no affinity.

If Iraq needs a foreign midwife to assist in its rebirth it should be under the broader sponsorship of the United Nations Security Council, which our macho president continues to disparage for having failed to vote our way. Will the democracy we so glibly promote for Iraq be pushed aside if it similarly fails to produce results to our liking?

Eager to rebuild their country after years of misrule, will Iraqis really swallow the shameless plans of Bush insiders to privatize Iraqi oil while the administration awards billions of dollars in contracts to U.S. companies?

And what if Iraqi Muslim fundamentalists prove as successful at the polls as radicals in Algeria, where the U.S. only mildly rebuked a repressive regime for smashing a popularly elected but theocratic opposition?

If the new Iraq follows the path of Pakistan and Turkey, where the populace is inclined to obliterate any wall between state and church, will the U.S. spin this as a victory for democracy? Will Rumsfeld justify the ethnic cleansing common in a nation riven with competing tribes, clans and religious sects arbitrarily packed together by previous colonialist rulers as the unruly joy of freedom?

Why have the media bought the administration's propaganda that we come to Iraq with clean hands and virgin swords to slay the dragon of Saddam Hussein, when the U.S. did so much to keep him in power? Surely, even embedded journalists recall that it was Reagan administration special envoy Rumsfeld who met with Hussein in the 1980s to guarantee U.S. support for Iraq's war with Iran.

Once again, we're deep in the "nation-building" game that Bush the candidate railed against in 2000. Having blundered in, guns blazing, we should now play to win the peace, slowly backing out and inviting a true multinational rebuilding effort with support from the U.N. and Muslim countries.

And for heaven's sake, can we remember in our next preemptive invasion to assign at least a few of our tanks to protect the hospitals and museums?

Robert Scheer writes a syndicated column for The Los Angeles Times.

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Government And Politics, Iraq
Views: 3656

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Older Comments:
This article was perfectly written. There are thieves in every religion and every country in the world. That is why there is a code of law, whether it be religious or non-religious. Then there is a group of people called the government, who enforce these laws. When there is a lacuna created by us by toppling the existing government of any country, we should be brave enough to accept the blame for that lacuna. It is during that period that thugs seek their opportunity. Were this to happen in the USA, would you blame yourself and the thugs in your community for the crimes committed, or blame the people who destroy our government and not take care of the lawlessness. Let us look into our hearts with a sincere mind and not one that is twisted by a handfull of people who like to be in control and expect everybody to follow like blind donkeys tied together neck to neck. God made the human brain and conscience much higher than what we demand of them.

It was very balanced coloum by Robert Scheer. LA Times....this is very well known to every real human that, it was a unjustified war...The American peoples need more true stories to realize that the "blood of any human is priceless, they are not different, history will be repeated, may be in 50 or 100 or 200 years from now, there will be a fall of this country"

Keep up the good work Mr. Robert.

To Gerry: How could everytime there's a theft in Australia, you write an article that blames the thief? What is your policemen doing then? A thief is a thief, they probably dont listen to CNN!

Last person's comment - "Whilst there is much blame attached to the US military, I don't hear any comment from the Islamic communuty regarding the blame to be attached to the theives themselves. Why has Mr Schier not addressed that issue?"

Do you know why you dont hear any comments from the islamic community? Its because your'e watchng CNN... Thats why.

Robert Sheer is quick to lay blame on the US military for the Iraqi theft. Robert's view is simplistic and shallow. Just from the media reports it is plain that much of the theft (why call it looting?) was an inside job well organised by professional criminals. Simply moving 140,000 items is a massive exercise. Who controlled security? How were the steel doors breached?
The blame for theft is always with the thief. As much blame will also lay with anyone who deals with the thieves. The black market for the items is restricted to wealthy individuals and without them the items have no value to the theives.
Whilst there is much blame attached to the US military, I don't hear any comment from the Islamic communuty regarding the blame to be attached to the theives themselves. Why has Mr Schier not addressed that issue?

Regarding one thing the author had mentioned, I have recently heard stories, where people in Iraq were taken to hospitals, where they were then subjected to procedures used to "intimidate" them. I wonder if there is anyone who could confirm whether or not the people who looted hospitals had, at some point, been so-called patients at those particular institutions.

On the other hand, statues (and other such artifacts) bearing a likeness to human beings, after various research on them has been completed, are merely "so much mud and stone" - as a member of the Taliban had so eloquently put it, in response to the widely condemned destruction of two religious relics in Afghanistan. Admittedly, I would prefer that artifacts were held hostage, in demands for economic assistance, rather than Allah's living creations.

As Salaamu Alaikum.

As I read Mr. Robert Sheer's article, I cannot help but to agree with his well spelled out arguments. It is so depressing to see how the wrongdoers can display themselves so right in the American media, eg Rumsfeld, as if the viewers have no minds of their own to reason with.

I do hope that the leaders and the people of Muslim countries stand up strong to preserve the treasures of the holy land. After all, we do not want Iraq to be as free as the corrupted American society is.

It's so funny! Two Bush's cultural advisers resigned as a protest to the failure of the US troops to protect the "artifacts"! Which is more valuable? Artifacts or civilian lives? And in this case, historical artifact and civilian lives that belongs to Iraq, not those of the Americans! They should have resigned as a protest to the failure of the American people to stop this senseless and bloody war,in the first place!

The Americans let the looting and destruction in Iraq take place is because that's what they went there for. To destroy the country. Their interest is in the oil and not the well being of the Iraqi people, their heritage and their country; as well as the museums and other monument.

As for Iraq having part in the 9-11 attack, it is not possible when the US prides it self in having the most sophisticated technology I heard something like they can see a black fly for miles away. So how could they have missed not one but two passenger planes that had no business been there. Having said that, I'm no expert, how is that possible unless they (US) blew up the twin towers themselves?

Since the 9-11 the US has successfully destroyed two countries and working on more for example Syria it's the US threaten to attack that country next? The US actions are going to cause lots of grief for the world. One moms opinion.

wanting to understand

you're so 'lack of information' to understand about your country's hidden motives for the for more independent news and mingling in this site is such a good move.but I agree with that saddam's henious palaces though.

to wantingtounderstand: What the author is trying to point out is that US has a very selfish and narrow foreign policy. He never made Saddam an angel, and that is not the topic of discussion in this article. Rather the author is pointing out how the US has manipulated Saddam for its own benefits in the past and attacked Iraq now with the same designs.

I assume you are not a Muslim because of your assumption that religion cannot coexist with state. Islam is a complete way of life, which we Muslims believe is divinely ordained. Hence, guidance for the state comes from religion. The problem lies in the fact that majority of the Muslim states oppress their own people, which is against the teachings of Islam.

Your question as to how to control spread of WMD! You and i individually have little energy and the means to prevent its spreading. But what we can do is understand the facts properly without polarizing our intellect. Then let others know what you have understood. A group is more powerful than an individual in most cases.

US Policy is supress Arab world. It is been long period but Bush is now openly terminating the Muslims and their culture. May God bless Muslims and their countries and give us power to fight for justice.

the section of your article that states "The notion that Iraq even has history -- let alone that 7,000 years ago this land was the cradle of civilization -- is not likely to occur to the neocolonialists running a brawny young nation barely more than 200 years old" makes it seem as if the U.S is to young a country to know anything about how a country should be ran. my question to you, does history make people smarter, or is it education? would you have people that are educated running your country or farmers who knows nothing about economic progress. people who base all the decisions on religious belifes. you also make it seem that it U.S. is only interested in Iraqs oil and nothing else, and that Saddam does not have weapons of mass destruction. Have you seen what Saddam has done to people with his bio weapons. Do you know that these weapons of mass destruction could and would distroy the world by killing everyone on the face of the planet. How do you control the spread of such weapons? your article makes Saddam to be an angel compared to Mr. Bush. Are you so blind not see what Saddam has done to the Iraqi people. Saddam spent billions upon billions constructing his palaces while his people suffers. How do you justify that kind of action and how could you support a cold hearted leader such as Saddam?

What's happening in Baghdad is a systematic destruction of the cultural heritage of the Iraqi people. The looting of the museum by professional theives equipped with glass cutting tools, and the organized burning of the National Library, including the Quranic Library, that contains invaluable documents and ancient scripts, are all premeditated and planned crimes against the Iraqi people. They are part of a sinister project of wiping out the cultural and religious identity of the Iraqis and transforming them into pliable, Zionist-friendly vassals.

Robert Fisk in his latest dispatch from Baghdad raised very important questions that must be answered: Who are the arsonists? Who is funding them? Who is sending them from outside Baghdad in white and blue busses into designated targets?

I find it extremely hard to believe that the Iraqis would burn their own ancient manuscripts of the Quran. Why would they do that? Saddam has always oppressed the religious people in Iraq and his regime was a secular Baathist founded by a Christian. So who are those arsonists avenging against by burning the Quranic scripts?

This is one of the best aritcles I have read about the Bush's and Rumsfeild's policies.
I think that the FOX new channel should read this artilce before they praise our president and Mr. Rumsfeild.

Thank you for making such informative comments about what is going on. I am very unhappy with how the US media is so one sided and seemed to just want to inform its people of one sided story. Of course of how well they are running things in Iraq and yet not telling how much pain, loss and desperation that they have caused so far. Thanks again.