April 1, 2004 - Last night at a Washington fundraiser the President said of Iraq, "[A]n example of democracy is rising at the very heart of the Middle East. … The world is more free and …America is more secure. We still face thugs and terrorists in Iraq who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the advance of liberty. This collection of killers is trying to shake our will. America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins."
Last night the American people were shown the roasted bodies of Americans strung like trophies from a Fallujah bridge. The videos and still images of the desecration of America’s dead were sickening reminders of the face of the year old war and the depth of the hatred that has driven it. Lest we forget the display of human trophies in this year long war has not been one sided. It was last June that the United States displayed the bodies of its own trophies in the images of the distorted dead faces of Saddam’s sons.
The two sets of images are not equal. America had the capacity to sanitize its trophies, clean up the bodies and publish mortuary photographs to the world. The Fallujah mob did not have access to the resources of government to send its message to America. It did not craft and polish a set of images to carry the emotional content. America’s graphic message was that the Saddam regime had been defeated. The mob’s message was that despite the defeat of the regime the hatred and resistance to an American occupation will go on. It was not carefully crafted. It erupted and the images that played last night across our television screens demonstrated that it was as spontaneous as it was horrifying.
It is not enough to dismiss the incident by calling the mob “thugs and assassins” or a “collection of killers”. Nothing remotely resembling it occurred in our occupation of Germany and Japan. The President can’t credibly pass this off as an act of terrorism perpetrated by Al Qaeda. The images show a popular uprising, not an isolated incident of terrorism committed by a small coterie of terrorists. They show the depth and vigor of a broadly based resistance to American domination of their country. As horrendous as the mutilation and display of the bodies was we must not let a natural impulse for revenge and retaliation cloud a clear vision of the nature and extent of the resistance we face in Iraq.
It is a mistake to equate the occupation of Iraq with our occupation of Germany and Japan. We faced no hostile resistance then. We were accepted by both the German and Japanese not as conquerors bent on the exploitation of a defeated country but as an instrument of social and political change. If there was resentment its expression was limited and did not erupt in the kind of violence that is endemic in Iraq.
The better analogy is the German occupation of France. The Wehrmacht faced a resistance army as lethal and as dedicated as that we face in Iraq. From Vichy’s surrender to the liberation of Paris the Germans were never able to quell the resistance with the application of force. German soldiers died daily, in ones and twos in isolated incidents that bled their army and paved the way to their eventual defeat.
Agree? Disagree? Just want to add your .02 worth?
Click here to send your comments to Ming
Return to Home Page
© Copyright Keith Hays
All Rights Reserved