Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The shock of recognition

The grotesque saga of the Saddam execution continues, with the Maliki government's on-again, off-again denials of culpability, cell phone recordings of jeers and taunts, ghoulish video, the works. The whole thing was a Shiite revenge fest--only vengeance, no justice. John Burns of the New York Times told the News Hour tonight that this is graphic, bleak evidence of the kind of people we are empowering there in Iraq and for whom our people keep dying.

I've been a little skeptical of all the Iraq-is-Vietnam comparisons, mainly because in Vietnam, it was clear that most people wanted what the Communists offered, and almost no one wanted what we insisted that they should have. In Iraq, there is a minority fighting against an empowered and vengeful majority. What we want, or are selling, is unclear and seems to me to be increasingly irrelevant. But I saw today a degree of symmetry that was frightening. The Saddam execution drama reminds me so much of the reaction of the Diem government in Vietnam to the Buddhist demonstrations in l963. Diem and his brother, who led the Diem government secret police hit squads, openly discriminated against the Buddhist minority because they were not Catholic, the religion Diem felt everyone should embrace. Some Buddhists found their treatment so unacceptable that they resorted to self-immolation on the streets of south Vietnamese cities. It was a terrible human tragedy, but President Diem--whom Vice President Johnson deemed the "George Washington of south Vietnam," ouch--saw it differently. His sister-in-law, the inimitable Madame Nu, the woman with a Hitler youth organization for girls, opined that this was just a provocation, that no one should pay attention to the "monk barbecue show" on the streets. Insofar as she noticed at all, she said, she might just send them matches and mustard to help them along(!). These were the kind of people we put forth as "our men" in south Vietnam, the exemplars of "our values." The world began to know us by the company we kept there, and it was horrified by what it saw.

If the Maliki government is the "company we keep" in Iraq, we should absolutely pack up our soldiers and GET OUT of there, NOW, before any further damage is done. An Iraq led by their like is not worth the life of one more American.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It shouldn't be surprising what the Maliki government does while supported by us. After all, as you've noted earlier, we're the ones that helped set up Sadaam. Our record in the area seems to indicate we're stuck in a pattern and we are unable to break free.

10:02 AM  

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