January 6, 2005

"Only Iraqis can liberate themselves..."

Darn that Tom Friedman. Never fails, I complain that he's full of malarky and then he comes out with something brilliant. Such as this column on elections in Iraq (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds, who I think has the same view of Friedman)

...What the Bush team has done in Iraq, by ousting Saddam, was not to "liberate" the country - an image and language imported from the West and inappropriate for Iraq - but rather to unleash the latent civil war in that country. Think of shaking a bottle of Champagne and then uncorking it....

....The civil war we want is a democratically elected Iraqi government against the Baathist and Islamist militants. It needs to be clear that these so-called insurgents are not fighting to liberate Iraq from America, but rather to reassert the tyranny of a Sunni-Baathist minority over the majority there. The insurgents are clearly desperate that they not be cast as fighting a democratically elected Iraqi government - which is why they are desperately trying to scuttle the elections. After all, if all they wanted was their fair share of the pie, and nothing more, they would be taking part in the elections.

We cannot liberate Iraq, and never could. Only Iraqis can liberate themselves, by first forging a social contract for sharing power and then having the will to go out and defend that compact against the minorities who will try to resist it...

I get really annoyed at people who harp about how we've "failed" in Iraq because we haven't defeated the terrorists, or brought tranquility and happiness and enough electricity. That's not our job, that's not what we are trying to do. These things are tasks for the people of Iraq, and our job is to only to make things steady enough that they can start to do them.

We want Iraq to show the Arab world another path, to show how an Arab country can start acting like the grown-ups. We don't need Iraq to be an example of the administration of American charity and patronage, or an example of a helpless country that gets "fixed" by outsiders. A point that's probably opaque to the sort of people who don't even want the American people to be self-reliant.

Posted by John Weidner at January 6, 2005 8:54 PM
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