Putting Iraq in America

24 مارچ 2010
Mowahid Hussain Shah
The invasion and occupation of Iraq seven years ago in March 2003 exposed the sharp disparity between expectation and action. The expectation in Washington was that it would be a sharp and swift operation which would reconfigure the Middle East closer to the geo-political desires of the neo-cons who designed the Iraq strategy (the important book, The War on Iraq: Conceived in Israel by Dr Stephen J Sniegoski was published in February 2003, six weeks before the assault on Iraq).
The actions and results on the ground reveal otherwise. The continuous US military engagement there is longer than its involvement in World War I and II combined. The results are still coming in. But simply put, the grand schemes of the neo-cons have dismally failed to mature, leaving in its wake unexpected lingering after-effects.
Now, seven years later, the Oscar Awards ceremony in Hollywood on March 7 was a reconfirmation of how Iraq, in turn, has invaded the popular American imagination. The low-budget movie on the Iraq War, Hurt Locker, which was shot in Jordan, garnered the Best Picture prize.
The much-anticipated movie now playing across cinema houses in America is the thriller \\\"Green Zone\\\", which makes the compelling case that the war on Iraq was waged under false pretence.
In the print world, the talk of the town is the just-released book, Courage and Consequence by Karl Rove, a senior Bush adviser, viewed by the 43rd president as the architect of his electoral success. Rove strives to justify the mislaid plans of his former White House boss by stating that, when it mattered, leading Democratic senators like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton supported the Republican administration\\\'s plan to assault Iraq, despite the absence of a casus belli. Both Kerry and Hillary then were nursing presidential ambitions and did not wish to risk offending powerful backers. It is one exam-ple of what Dr Hanan Ashrawi characterises as \\\"American we-akness and Israeli arrogance.\\\"
Even today, in the US, some blithely view the Iraq imbroglio as a mere public relations predicament when, in fact, it is a problem more of substance than of mere perception. Nevertheless, the decision to initiate war brings its own consequences - some of it unintended.
A significant dynamic can potentially come into play with the passage of time. Over 2.5 million US military personnel already have been exposed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Magnify that by its impact on relatives, friends, and others affected directly or indirectly through contact. It is a huge exposure to the socio-political multiplicity in the Muslim world. It enlarges the scope for opening the minds of millions of Americans and lifting the mental blockade which hampers genuine amity and understanding between the West and the Muslim world.
The sheer volume of American lives touched creates ample space for revisiting the flawed policies. For too long, the American public has assimilated the stereotypical views about the larger Muslim world, seeing it mostly through the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. But that may be loosening.
The inconclusive nature of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are slowly sowing the seeds of disquiet and doubt, along with underlining the strategic prominence of the Mideast region to US well-being. Because of the imbalance in information, plus the dominant control of context and narrative, there is a distorted picture of why America is so steeped in military conflicts in the Muslim world.
The Iraq misadventure has emerged as one such folly. Meanwhile, a look inward into the US reveals a growing pattern of domestic terror attacks by white Americans on government targets, making a mockery of the mostly, in effect, brown-centric profiling. Tom Brokaw, the 70-year-old veteran NBC anchor-person calls it \\\"the made in USA terror.\\\" Before 9/11, the biggest terror attack inside America was in April 1995 at Oklahoma, perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh, an ex-US army soldier who was, among other factors, motivated by his anger over the US actions in Iraq in 1991.