Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Real Dark Day In Iraq

We write this having strongly supported the purpose of the Iraq war.

Tonight, as India remains occupied with our continuing monsoon troubles and, believe it or not, cricket, bad tidings come from Iraq.

In the past couple days alone, a single US marines battalion alone has lost 20 young men there. Baghdad remains in chaos, the rest of Iraq even worse. There is little prospect of a sustainable political accord that might bring peace there, nor is there evidence of real progress in terms of improving day-to-day life for Iraqis.

None of this catastrophe diminishes the valid purpose of the war -- to take the battle to the very heart of Arabia, whose theocratic & secular tyrannies have (perhaps inadvertently) brought us the shadow of Al Qaeda. Since the men who lead these anachronistic tyrannies see no reason to reform, taking apart one of them (any one of them, the seemingly easiest one of them) made a great deal of sense.

The shocking chaos that's regrettably followed this valid purpose is a major problem because this suggests something the world did not know prior to this war: that even the mighty United States, who's spent blood & bullion in Iraq like they were water, cannot tame a country of merely 25 million.

The implications are staggering. Given how this is turning out, American people will not back another similar initiative any time soon. This blunts American power since other tyrants and evil doers know they have more flexibility than they realized they had prior to the Iraq war. Because America is the long pole holding up the globalization tent, this is bad news for all of us.

Also, consider this. If America could not impose its will & values in Iraq, can India ever do so in a much larger -- and much more dangerous -- Pakistan?

A lot of people on the left will now say, I told you so. They shouldn't exult too much. If America fails in Iraq and this creates a comfort zone for all manner of maniacal killers, their victims will be all of us -- whether we supported or opposed the Iraq war. In this dark hour, we are all in the same leaking boat. Besides, the left had no real idea on how to deal with the terrorism crisis except to argue (no, demand) that we deal with terrorism's so-called root causes -- i.e. concede defeat on political matters even though we think we are on the right side. The left has little credibility regardless of how dark this Iraq moment becomes.

So, here we are. Iraq is, alas, going to become a real test for American resolve & leadership. From what we know of America, every instinct in its soul would make it stand its ground and fight; but who can blame it for feeling real down when a week like this one comes along.


history_lover said...

As a Muslim ,I oppose the American invasion of iraq
America due to it's superior firepower (of all kinds )may ultimately win but what is very important that it should face a tough time in Iraq .It should not become a cakewalk for them.
As for Jihad,

Gameboys said...

Primary Red, I've thought about the justifications behind the war and the implications for India and the world. The very thought of jihadi terrorists emerging victorious sends a chill down the spine. Imagine the 'inspiration' that these zealots would derive!

However much I would like to see the US succeed in Iraq, it's first of all impossible to defend the WMD theory, and secondly, I think the US has committed many blunders in Iraq. Let's forget about the WMD smokescreen for a sec - after all, no one was going to endorse a war purely for regime change, even if the ultimate goal was worthy.

From an operational point of view, disbanding the Iraqi army wholesale was a major mistake. Getting rid of officers loyal to Saddam should have sufficed. The other major problem is committing enough forces on the ground - people like Colin Powell favoured a full scale assault, which does seem wise in hindsight. Many of the so-called allies contribute very little in terms of manpower on the ground.

The job in Afghanistan should have been completed before embarking on this difficult war. For all of Bush's courage, he seems to have been ill-advised (of course I'm not expert in these matters - just an opinion).

Lastly, who's response for Iraqi civilians who have died?

- Nanda Kishore

Primary Red said...

On the last point, the jihadists who are killing the Iraqi civillians are responsible for their deaths.

On the WMD issue, the reason that argument was offered is precisely because the world was unwilling to see the broader threat that regimes like Saddam's represented -- a swam where intellectual & political life has been smothered; consequently, terrorism has become almost a romantic ideal for some fringe elements there.

As you correctly observe, the world wasn't ready for regime change -- even if the upturned regime was as vicious as Saddam's, and the upturning would have sent a strong message to the neighbouring tyrannies (Afghanistan was really a sideshow). Hence, the (in retrospect) odd WMD argument --not that it worked either in creating support (which is too bad).

No doubt, the US has made somewhat of a mess here (given the tactical mistakes you describe), but there's also the responsibility of the rest of the world whose failure to unite with the US gave the terrorists the opening to (cynically) portray themselves as "nationalist insurgents" instead of the "death squads" that they really are.

We are all guilty here, alas, and we're all likely going to pay the price.

Best regards

doubtinggaurav said...

Although I support Iraq war, I will disagree with you on WMD issue.

Although I am not living in US, my impression is that possession of WMD was the reason that was offered to American public for invasion.
While a leader can be excused for indulging in such kind of tactics when parlaying with foreign powers,such action is unpardonable when conveying ideas to public.
It is this kind of inaccurate information which gives rise to jingoism, it is more of a matter of principle to me.
But yes I do wish that US will succeed in Iraq


Kaunteya said...

I am pro-Iraq war and in the minority even within my american office mates on this issue.Most of my collegues oppose it and their tribe is growing with each passing day.

Lets face it. Nobody really believed that George W Bush wanted to 'liberate the people of Iraq' from the 'tyranny of Saddam'.Thats clearly bullshit. And obviously it was a blunder on part of Bush administration to justify the war on basis of WMD. (Nobody was buying that either.Most voted for him even though fully aware of this fact).

To put it bluntly, he was just looking to complete his father's unfinished mission. Iraq was always going to be on Bush's list.. WTC or not.WMD or not.

But i still feel the war on Iraq is not wrong, though it could have been handled much better. In fact it should be handled better , else the consequences would be devastating for all.

The war on Iraq symbolises a war on a certain ideology. Saddam was one of the pillars of that ideology. And after Afghanistan, Iraq would have been a safe haven for Osama and his cohorts. I think the pre-emptive strike on Iraq might have rattled his followers and one might say, even unsettled them.
It also made Pakistan atleast officially come out against terrorism. Also there's a clear indication that some of the pressure has been released from Indian security forces because now the jihadis are concentrating west of Pakistan.

But the war is definitely not going the way it should have been.America seems clueless whatever Rumsfield has to say.
One shudder's to think what will happen if the US goes the Russia way on Afghan. As clearly the start of Kashmir terrorism problem coincided with end of Afghan war. The unemployeed jihadi is dangerous for India. At the cost of sounding selfish i do not mind the west engaging these people (even under the pretext of WMD).

US lost the Vietnam war, but the result was inconsequential for India. That may not be the case this time.

Primary Red said...

history lover:

What we do not get is why your opposition to these wars is premised on your being a Muslim?

Are you suggesting that you would side with the "Muslim" antagonist on a battle against non-Muslims even if the latter is right?

Why should British Muslims or Indian Muslims (for example) feel more in common with Iraqis than with their own countrymen? This is truly a very odd circumstance.

Best regards.

history_lover said...

* First of all I do not believe in the (stated) intentions of the US.

* Secondly Iraq was not the aggressor here.It was already suffering under the vile sanctions imposed on it under an unjust international system.

* As a matter of principle if Muslims are attacked ,I will (generally )support my fellow muslims.
However people can't attack or assist in the attack of their own lands because we are citizens of that land

I believe all Muslims are brothers & sisters and part of a global spiritual community.

May be this is'nt rational just emotion but I don't care.
Granted other pulls like ethnicity,nationalism,language etc are important for many muslims.
Nowadays nationalism is the dominant acceptable form of tribalism anyway.

Primary Red said...


Why don't you believe in the essential validity of US' cause? Likely, only because this war is against tyrannies who happen to be Muslim. No doubt, you were for the US in its 80s Afghanistan campaign.

Iraq was not suffering under sanctions, Iraqis were. This war was against the Iraqi state who, if don't recall, brutalized a fellow Muslim state starting Aug 2, 1990 (This blogger recalls this vividly; he was in Muscat that day -- where all manner of terrified Kuwaitis had escaped to). The suffering of the Iraqi people was directly the responsibility of the Iraqi tyrant, whose Muslim identity did not keep him from his brutality to fellow Muslims.

As regards the point you make about the global Ummah, fair enough. But there is a worthwhile contradiction to be noted. Non-Muslims can be forgiven for being confused when sometimes their Muslim friends claim unity with the rest of the Ummah (regardless of whether the Ummah is right or wrong on specific issues) but at other times, e.g., in the aftermath of terror attacks, they criticize non-Muslims for (naively) seeing them as one with the Ummah!

As you put it well, this is simply not rational. Our emotional conncetion should really be only with people in our own neighborhoods & nations; people with whom we live & laugh & grow together -- the faiths of these people in our neighborhoods is surely irrelevant to this. Isn't that the secular ethic you prefer? Or would you prefer, for example, that Hindu Indians worry more about the welfare of fellow Hindus in Fiji or Suriname than fellow Muslims & Sikhs & Christians etc. in India herself? For us, the answer is clearly the latter.

Best regards.

Gameboys said...

...the jihadists who are killing the Iraqi civillians are responsible for their deaths...

PR, I agree, but please don't forget the 'allied' forces are also responsible for many civilian casualties. This is not just liberal propaganda.

I sense a common theme among those who have the welfare of India in mind - we would all like to see the US prevail, despite the fact that many of us think the rationale for the war and the strategems may have been flawed.

Part of the reason there is so much mistrust towards America is that a couple of decades back, it sided with the same people it is now fighting - Bin Laden and Saddam. Such expedient foreign policy is what has caused much grief and makes America a central target of hatred. There are other examples, most of them in the name of fighting communism - Vietnam, Cambodia.

The American public in general, I think, are not aware of these details, and right-wingers try to whip up a frenzy of nationalism with the 'these people just hate us because of our freedom' rhetoric. That kind of hatred is no doubt what motivates the jihadists, but to dismiss everyone who disagrees with America's way of solving problems is a mistake. As an Indian, I cannot forget how Nixon, Kissinger & co tried to coerce us in the '71 war, a just war anyway one looks at it.

- Nanda Kishore

Gameboys said...

history lover, get this:

Majority of the world does not hate Islam or Muslims, even though they may not like certain things about the religion (which is not unique for any one religion). But it is Muslims LIKE YOU who are the problem - you are bigoted, blind to reason (this is'nt rational just emotion but I don't care) and delusional, all of which makes you a dangerous combination.

- Nanda Kishore

history_lover said...

As an Indian Muslim using Moulana Muhammad Ali'phrase I am a part of two circles - India & Islam but they are NOT concentric.
I AM interested in the welfare of India BUT I am also interested in the Welfare of the Ummah in general.Also when I say I am interested in welfare I do not just mean material welfare or human rights ,justice etc.. but also in their state of preparation of the Akhirah.The state of the Ummah using Karen Armstrong's phrase is of sacramental importance to a Muslim.
Also looking at it rationally why should my concern for fellow human beings suddenly decrease if they live across a "border".
Thus living in North India I should care more about some one living in Kanyakumari who speaks in a different language from me ,has a different culture etc..
and not for people who are similar to him but live just across the Palk Straits......
I know you would reply that living in India we have some common concerns etc... It is just a convenient form to for human society to organize and manage it's affairs.

Let us face nationalism is the dominant paradigm today but conveniently sub nationalism is bad ...

We have a word called Asabiyyat (perhaps it's nearest equivalent in English is tribalism.
Most human beings have this tendency .

* Let us say I am talking about someone in Morocco.What do we have in common ? We have something in common - out religion by virtue of which we are brothers and have to help each other and for which we shall be answerable on the Day of Judgement.

* Yes you guessed it right I was supportive of the Afghan jihad which led to the collapse of the the Soviet Union However Muslims of Central Asia are still not free
as we hoped they would be.The cities of Samarqand and Bukhara used to centres of great Islamic scholarship and spirituality....

* Yes when it was clear that sanctions were causing great suffering to the iraqi people then why were they continued ?

* As for delusion,looking from scientific viewpoint faith may look irrational .Why pray to God for rains or my mother's health ?
It makes you feel better that's all etc...

* Indians were interested in the welfare of ethnic Indians in Fiji,aparthied South Africa etc..
So why can't I be interested in the welfare of my fellow Muslims in the rest of the world ?

Gameboys said...


...Indians were interested in the welfare of ethnic Indians in Fiji,aparthied South Africa...

Not just Hindus, I suspect? Please note that Indians didn't go out and bomb embassies or underground trains or buses. Nor did India unilaterally announce measures against either of those countries. And do not forget the role that ethnic Indians played in the anti-apartheid movement. Concern is understandable; fanatic action based on absurd utopian and pre-medieval ideas is not. What's your stand on Kashmir, eh?

I do not support the rationale for the war on Iraq, but I do want the US to prevail over the likes of Al-Zarqawi (or whoever the leader is). Who are you to claim to speak for Iraqi people anyway just because you're Muslim? You don't have the welfare of Iraq in mind - all you want is the Bin Ladens to triumph.

As for delusion, my atheistic mind thinks all religion is delusional! But that's just my opinion, I won't kill anyone to make them believe that.

- Nanda Kishore

history_lover said...

Let me make my self clear , I understand and share their anger
I understand why they are angry but do not condone thier actions because I consider their actions Haram by Islamic morality ...
In Asif Imtiaz 's words :"I would suggest that a total climate of oppression has led to a situation in which there are millions of sleepers all over the planet. They are not members of al-Qaida. They are ordinary Muslims. They become activated once they cannot take it any more and they lose touch with fiqh."


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