Manufacturing Victory

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, Iraq, Saddam Hussein Views: 2282

In the early days of the war on Iraq, just after the news was confirmed that the invading British troops had in fact occupied the tiny port town of Umm al-Qasr, a crowd of Iraqis encircled an al-Jazeera cameraman and reporter.

The scene was taken in a hurry, at the outskirts of Umm al-Qasr, Al Jazeera said. Many faces forced themselves above the shoulders of an older man who was the one interviewed. They all screamed on their own, some demanding water and food and others angrily screaming, just because they can.

An older man, with a darkened, tired face, drowning in wrinkles and washed with sweat fought for a spot, struggled to reach the microphone and finally burst out with screams. "Enough humiliation, enough degradation. All of them are shit. Saddam took us from one defeat to another, and now to occupation. The Americans and the British are stripping our women's cloths to look for weapons. They are here for oil. No one cares about us. Just leave us alone, leave us alone."

Maybe the Iraqi man was terrified from the consequences of his inflaming remarks, a backlash from the Iraqi regime or the occupying forces. But apparently, the level of anger, humiliation, defiance, and a complex ray of emotions were much stronger than fear. The chances were that the man never saw himself on television, since his town had no access to electricity, and maybe he didn't care.

Social scientists, on a group level, and psychiatrists, mostly on an individual level, strived throughout the years to explain why we behave the way we do. I wonder what the circumstances were that drove an old Iraqi man to declare to the whole world "they are all shit"? I am equally interested to know when the nations of the world reach a similar conclusion, not necessarily to make a similar declaration, but to realize the injustice of it all.

Following the end of the Gulf War in 1991, America declared victory and the celebrations began. Iraq was left with tons of depleted Uranium that is destined to remain there for millions of years. Iraq was also left with harsher sanctions that claimed the lives of over a million innocents. But the victory was beyond sweet then, and the dancing in the streets brought Americans from all walks of life together like never before.

It was not about oil then, and it's not about oil now, we were told, and most of us agreed. It was about liberating Kuwait, restoring democracy (what democracy in Kuwait?), it was about "containing Saddam Hussein", it was about ridding Iraq of its Weapons of Mass Destruction (where are these weapons?), it was about regime change in Iraq, it was about protecting Iraq's neighbors, it was about redrawing the map of the Middle East, it was about liberating the Iraqi people. But never had the United States any intention in controlling Iraq's oil reserve (which could reach 200 billion barrels of oil soon, compared to 35 billion barrels acquired by the US), or creating permanent military bases in the Middle East, to contain Iran, threaten Syria and protect Israel. If you say so, you are paranoid, pathetic and simply stupid. Yep, the American government would designate nearly one hundred billion dollars (estimated to last for less than a year) during one of its worst financial struggles in years, just to help those poor miserable Iraqis.

As silly as such a possibility might sound, Gallop polls are telling us that a great majority of Americans believe it. True, corporate media deserves to be blamed for deceiving the people, but how much of the blame lies on the shoulders of the people themselves?

Why don't Americans ask why aren't we storming African countries, East and West to "restore democracy"? They are certainly in a much a greater need than Iraq for this rare commodity that is only defined by the United States. Perhaps our troops will head to Africa's dictatorships when cocoa and rubber prove valuable in the international market, especially since the distance between Congo and Israel is way too far and we were promised no Armageddon there anyway.

Why don't Americans ask why their government allows itself to develop, own and use Weapons of Mass Destruction (The nuclear bomb in Japan, Agent Orange in Vietnam, and Deplete Uranium in Iraq and Yugoslavia), but we must go to war to rid Iraq of its weapons, although, oops we didn't find any such weapons in Iraq anyway? Are we just too distracted by the fabricated stories in which our media is keeping us engaged so that we don't dare ask the relevant questions: 'Coalition forces located a yacht were Saddam Hussein's son Udi used to have orgies' ..'Coalition forces located torture chambers where Iraqi Olympic team members were kept if they failed to perform well' .. and many more tales that shall generate Hollywood hundreds of millions of dollars for years to come since our chaps would love to kick Iraqi ass in movies for such cruelty.

Aren't we concerned of what our marginalization of the United Nations would cost us in the long run? Isn't anyone worried about where our arrogance might lead us? (Even France should be 'punished', Powell says for rejecting our Iraq war, so much for democracy.) Have we all forgotten how terrorism is directly manufactured by our own irresponsible foreign policy? Is this the best we could have done to honor the memory of 9/11 victims, and are these our vows that resound, "never again"?

I don't know what it will take for us to acquire the courage of that Iraqi man of Umm al-Qasr to break out from pain and scream in defiance against those who are gambling on our fate and our future, who manipulate our losses to serve their interests, who use our bodies like bridges to cross from one nation to another, from one conquest to another.

Sure, "Iraq is free" and everything is grand, for maybe a month or so, before more bloodshed restarts somewhere, before terrorists strike, and calls for vengeance dominate our lives again. Then, most likely, an 'embodied' academic or experts will appear on Fox news to tell us how 'militant Islam' is the one to blame for the world's evil, and conveniently, most of us will readily agree.

Baroud is the editor-in-chief of the and editor of the book entitled "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion."

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Iraq, Saddam Hussein
Views: 2282

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Older Comments:
Mebrocky posted one of the few, sane, balanced, albeit overly charitable set of comments made here.
The problem, Mebrock, is that this site exists to perpetuate exactly the negative stereotypes of the West which you refuse to extend to anyone. And you are indeed correct to point out that modern life is time consuming and one of the unfortunate consequences is that people fail to keep themselves informed. However, for those who make an effort, as I do,there is plenty of criticism and a range of views available in the United States media other than CNN and the major networks. For example, to name a few for the benighted readers (and writers) of Islamicity: the Nation, the Progressive, Mother Jones, Dissent, The New York Review of Books, The American Prospect, The New York Times, The New Republic, Commentary, the London Review of Books, NPR,PBS, the National Review, the Weekly Standard, and academic journals that span from the left to the right and feature far more criticism, a greater variety of views, and more information than is ever featured in the press of any Islamic country. The Internet provides access to international newspapers and we can buy many periodicals from abroad with no difficulty. The real problem with the "articles" here is that they feature no argument, no evidence, just polemics, with the purpose of sustaining a single framework for their readers to view the world through. (Comparable to Rush Limbaugh in open mindedness and political sophistication.) Some logicians call it special pleading, cognitive psychologists call it confirmation bias. I find this quotation from one of my favorite philosophers apt:

"He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good...But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not know so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion." --John Stuart Mill, from On Liberty



I wish to challenge Mr. Lee Wilson to a debate over whether or not the War with Iraq can be justified using the Christian and Jewish Bible. I know this is a Muslim board, but Mr. Wilson will have respect for the Koran and the Bible of the Christians and Jews will refute his error anyway.

Anyone interested in contacting Mr. Wilson can email me at [email protected].

thank you friends at Islami City. You are a compliment to your faith.

Criticize the US government, fine, I do that myself, but I am truly tired of people like the author, claiming that they know what Americans are like. There is some truth in saying that people "should have known" that the government was misleading them. The fact is most people here, as in the rest of the world, spend their time and energies working and supporting their families. In addition, the American press, which in the past was criticized by the politicians for being too liberal, after Sept. 11, went the other way and failed miserably in asking the hard questions of the Bush administration. Walter Cronkite, the dean of American newsmen has been very critical of this failure. He said that since 9/11 the administration "wrapped itself in the flag", thereby making it seem unpatriotic if they were criticized. I have read that Americans should stop using 9/11 as an excuse, that is nave and frankly quite insulting. The devastation in terms of human life and property had a very profound effect on this country. My husband, who is European, and has lived in or visited many countries, says that Americans are for the most part decent people who are very willing to give of their time and money to help others. Of course we have our share of racists and bigots, what country doesn't? It really offends me when I hear that, " all Americans are greedy people with no morals"; or that, " all Muslims are terrorists." Come on folks, it is this kind of attitude, this ignorant "I know all about these people or those people", that makes it easy for religious or political leaders to keep wars and old hatreds alive. Abraham, Jesus, and Muhammad taught us that generosity, kindness, and understanding win people's hearts and minds, not hatred, terror and destruction.

Victory that shouldn't be proud of. This war was an unjust and unmatched war, the war of the superpower with mighty war machine and high technolgy equipment invaded a small country. It was a shameful war.

Where was united states when india attacked Lahore? Where was it then? USA was always there to help kuwait when Iraq invaded it!

Good Article.

Would be nice if it also addressed the issues the places viewed as victims created for themselves.

For example, it would have been near impossible to invade Iraq if Iraqi's were actually happy with their situation.

The mid-east and most Muslim countries would not be so easily pushed around by the US and it's allies if the people in those countries stood by their governments or better yet...their governments were worth standing up for and defending.

The answer to Muslim problems are in Muslim hands.

Of course, oil does play a massive role. More exactly, it makes things massive. On both sides. Without oil, Iraq (the Middle-East) would not have the US on their ground, but it wouldn't have produced something like Saddam Hussein either.

It is a fact Iraqis must accept: they do have oil. Maybe a gift, maybe a curse, but sure God-given. And they have to manage it. Or they have to give that job to others. But it is not sensible to tell the world they should let them alone. And, whatever the US came for, it is not sensible either to keep on fighting against them, with words, as the arms didn't work. The US too are part of a God-given reality we have to accept. You can't destroy it, so deal with it, work at it, damnit! And get rid of this childish tone once for all.

Who says it's not about oil? All Americans are aware about this motive and they like it, for this will make them more prosperous and wealthy. They can become the richest nation in the world. Who doesn't want and support this is stupid and off course, is not American! You know, the Americans are above human beings and they dont have or have very little of those senses that the average human beings have. That's why they have became a very succesful nation. The next time you came across an American, dont greet them the way you greet another fellow human being, for they are not human being!