It has been two years and six months since the fall of Baghdad. Still Iraqis often have only two hours of electricity a day. After the first Gulf War between the United States and Iraq, Saddam had the devastated power grid up and running within weeks, or perhaps months in some areas.
For anyone who wonders why the Resistance and the Insurgency are on the rise, the reason(s) should be clear. Many Iraqis have lived through and remember both wars, and they are certainly asking themselves why their basic needs have still not been met. The conclusion they reach, unfortunately for the Americans, appears to continuously be: the United States does not care about Iraq.
The Bush administration apparently cares only about the oil and their strategic global interests in the region. Many Iraqis and other Arabs have told me that the Americans must be idiots not to see that the entire situation is directly related to protection and regional supremacy for Israel. Last night I took a taxi with a Palestinian to Al Saraya, and he told me how much he loved Clinton and Carter and how much he hates Bush. Not the American people, just Bush.
It’s fairly well understood at this point that Clinton did much less than he could to ensure the passage of the Oslo Accords. However, Clinton’s mere intention to work for peace and resolution to the Arab-Israeli situation helped to ease tensions between the Middle East and the Uniteed States. More and more I find that reversing the destruction and instability that war has brought to Iraq is merely a small step in regaining the Middle East’s good graces. President Bush’s cavalier attitude towards the Middle East Peace Process is another entirely overlooked element in repairing United States Foreign Policy here.
If one examines the history of the United States’ conflict and interaction with Saddam Hussein, the importance of Israel-Palestine becomes very clear. Saddam repeatedly linked positive work toward the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict to any withdrawal from Kuwait or other cooperation in the subsequent Sanctions period.
Such contradictions in US foreign policy fuels the insurgency, along with the corruption which wears the mask of “reconstruction.” By privatizing the reconstruction process, almost entirely, we not only encourage war profiteering and corruption, but we virtually ensure it. When I was younger my mother ran a daycare center and one day she asked the groundskeeper, “James, why do you just cut the weeds down, rather than pulling them out at the root?” He looked at the weeds along the fence, then at my mother, and jokingly said “Job insurance, Mrs. Debbie.”
I think the analogy is clear. Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel, and others have little to gain from completely renovating and restructuring Iraq, and a lot to gain from doing a little at a time. With cost-plus contracts and such a lack of oversight, who is surprised by the corruption!
Furthermore, the single-minded refrain of “Stability, then Democracy” leaves much to be desired. This plan has led the United States to a government restructuring process in Iraq that appears to say “Any Iraqi but Saddam” is legitimate to hold authority. Ahmad Chalabi and Iyad Allawi are currently powerful men in Iraq, who are also known to be corrupt. Iraqis will tell you the problems run even deeper. “Every party has its own interests and viewpoints and perception of how to run the country. It would be a miracle if all those parties come together to unite and join forces,” one source has told me. This view has been echoed by everyone I have spoken with, with others taking an even harsher stance. Shadi al Kasim, a reporter formerly with the Baghdad Bulletin and British Channel 4 told me, “Ahmad Chalabi, his party, they have been looting in Baghdad, and no one is doing anything about it. I met a lot of people they said, oh come on, he’s such a big thief, thieves will bring thieves. So they start to think Americans are thieves and they will come to loot our country. But if the Americans start to do something about it, to stop the corruption, then I think things will get better.”
(Editor’s Note: Though this article and interview were written on the October 9th, the 2 year and 6 month anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, due to technical problems with the site, they could not be uploaded until now.)