Sunday, December 17, 2006

Looking Both Forward and Backwards

2006 has had:

1.) The clear recognition by many, if not most, USians that the War in Iraq is not being "won" and indeed may be lost either by being an endless mess or by simply being lost and

2.) Elections in November which changed the power of the Bush Adminstration limiting their powers to control Congress

It is unclear what we will learn from the War in Iraq. For some it is a repeat of the Vietnam War where "the generals were not allowed to win the War" - more troops and more money are seen as the answer as well as better leadership.

For others the War in Iraq is unwinnable because "Arabs don't like Democracy" and we can't help them because of this.

For others still we have another situation of the U.S. Government going into a part of the world that we don't understand and making numerous presumptions about the people there. As with 9/11 - we have wasted the good will that we may have had and really become "the enemy" or at least "the bully" who others love to hate.

It seems amazing to me how we can think that our military might makes us knowledgeable as to how the rest of the world functions. In our own country the intolerance for "Arabs" has translated into a world where Sikhs, and many other South Asian people who are not Muslim at all are presumed to be: "the enemy" and are scapegoated and sometimes killed or injured as a result of our ignorance.

In the Middle East we presume that Arabs are part of "The War on Terror" against us as a unified force when in fact the divisions among Sunni's, Shiites, Kurds and factions within them make forces such as the supposed "enemies" Hezballah of Lebanon and the Hamas Movement of The West Bank and Gaza as well as the various factions within Iraq, the Taliban of Pakistan and Afghanistan - as if they are unified against the United States.

While all of these forces may dislike the Bush Administration it is important to understand the fear for example that the Saudi Arabian leadership has for the Iranian Government. Lebanon has a significant Christian population. Iraq's former leader Saddam Hussein was not a religious based leader. Where all else may have serious divisions, Arabs often find unity in opposing the Israeli occupation of The West Bank. At the same time there are certainly fears within the Arab world of a democratic independent West Bank State which might threaten the autocratic regimes of all the other Middle Eastern Arab states.

Unfortunately we rarely look at the complexities of the Middle East and break things down into logical situations based upon looking at the history of the region and how it has evolved into today. We create boogiemen such as Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and now the Iranian leadership (which is extreme and poor no doubt) and fail to look at what is going on.

We have no business trying to decide who should rule in Iraq! Getting U.S. forces extricated from this quagmire may not be simple or easy, however it will be the best way to eventually get peace in this country. Increasing troops and "winning the war" is naive and extremely unlikely to do more than result in greatly increased deaths and costs to Iraq and the U.S.

It will be interesting to see how things change politically in the U.S. in 2007! Will Congressional leadership move towards positive changes such as an increased minimum wage, major changes in national healthcare and other worthwhile causes? Will Republicans be able to woo conservative Democrats or will Democrats pull "moderate Republican's" and further isolate the idealogues within the Bush Administration.

Undoubtably the Bush Administration will do its best to use its powers to entrench Conservatives and rightwing Evangelicals and similar in non-elective positions which they will control.

How wise and successful the Democrats will be may have a lot to do with the political fortunes of 2008. Will the candidates be: McCain, Clinton, Obama and whomever else may seemingly move forward? McCain and Obama - would certainly offer greatly alternate visions of a future in the U.S. I think that Hillary Clinton will Not have a chance to win in 2008. She may be the Democratic nominee particularly if Barack Obama's popularity does not continue to grow as it has so far.

Time will tell as 2007 begins and evolves!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi George- I could not agree more!!
Love all your postings. Have a great New year! Smiles, Sherry