Sometimes I feel like I should start a post by reminding people that I was born in Iraq, but I spent most of my life in the US. I am Americanized for sure, but I still care a great deal about Iraq, always have. Many of my feelings towards George (Dubya) Bush are conflicted. I had conflicted feelings about the war, before it was launched. I knew innocent people would die, like in 1991. But when I saw George Bush get on TV in 2003 and say to the world that Saddam and his filthy sons had 48 hours to leave Iraq, I felt great happiness. I thought "FINALLY" somebody powerful stepped up and did the right thing. George Bush is the cowboy who brought the end to the Arab Stalin, the unelected leader of a regime that mass murdered Iraqis before its fall and continued to murder Iraqis after the liberation.
Mine is an Iraqi American's perspective. I care about all the middle east, all of humanity, actually. So does Fouad Ajami, another Arab American. I have written about Fouad Ajami and posted his articles before. I cannot hide my admiration for this man, who is hated by many Arabs for his unwavering support for George Bush and the war against the terrorists and tyrants of the middle east. Mr. Ajami has always written about Saddam's horrors. I find it interesting that Ajami could not gain tenure at Princeton in the early 70s, maybe because he "made for himself there as a vocal supporter of Palestinian self-determination." Today he's a strong supporter of the war and George Bush. I suspect there are many Bush supporters who also support Palestinian self-determination and statehood. I believe President Bush advocates Palestinian statehood. Ajami's recent article No Surrender is another good one, although I do not necessarily agree that "Baghdad was the proper return address" in response to 9/11. Riyadh was the proper return address for 9/11. The US military was in Iraq in 1991, I'm sure Mr. Ajami remembers well, and he might agree that 1991 was the proper time to overthrow Saddam's murderous regime. In March 1991 the US and its allies (including Saudi Arabia) had already bombed Iraq (for 40 consecutive days and nights) and drove Saddam's army out of Kuwait. US troops were 50 miles from Baghdad when they were ordered to retreat. That was after the coalition bombing and destruction, right before the uprising. It took 9/11 for the US to take down Saddam. We can discuss what should have been, but we cannot change the past - it is what it is, right or wrong. The US avoided occupation and mayhem by retreating in 1991. I have argued before that Iraqi peace and democracy would have been much easier to achieve in 1991 than in 2003. For Iraqis the difference between 1991 and 2003 was 12 years of miserable sanctions and more mass murder. Most Iraqis I know left Iraq in the 1990s.
In the spring of 1991 most American soldiers returned home (a few stayed in KSA and Kuwait) to participate in an economy that soon boomed after the war. Some Americans like Anthony Arnove became even more concerned about Iraq and wrote about the devastating sanctions, some people were angry about the conditions in Iraq throughout the 1990s, and even George Clooney starred in a movie that highlighted Iraqis' suffering (not enough, imo, but the movie wasn't about the suffering of Iraqis). Most Americans, however, didn't seem to care. Even when told that some 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of sanctions, Bill Clinton's Secretary of State said it was worth it. But removing Saddam's murderous regime, even if it results in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, is not worth it. OK. Bad water and lack of medicine kills innocent Iraqis, but it is a silent death. Few people noticed in the 90s. A few Americans wrote books and raised some awareness, and the mainstream media caught the Secretary of State saying something stupid once, but there was no Code Pink in the 1990s. I don't remember any non-Iraqi Arabs complaining about Iraqi women's rights back then. Two words can describe most Iraqis' experience during the decade of the 1990s: it sucked. It took a long time for a powerful nation to stand up to the tyrants of Iraq. Iraqis have paid in so many horrible ways, awaiting liberation and democracy. Iraqis continue to struggle. But Iraqis and Americans won't surrender. We won't allow terrorists, in the guise of Islam or Arab nationalism, to take Iraqis hostage again. Iraq will be free, and with the help of America. Get used to it. The result will be a peaceful and prosperous democracy in Iraq, free of tyranny and Islamic extremism, for the first time in decades.