Three Years Gone

Today is the third anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. Three years. What happened to that cake walk I was promised? Where are the throngs of flower throwers and flag wavers? Large numbers of Iraqis are being killed everyday in sectarian violence. This wave of death started some weeks ago when a shrine in Samarra was destroyed by bombs. One of Iraq’s former Prime Ministers today said the country was already in the midsts of a civil war. It was on NPR news and he said something to the effect of we have 40-50 people being killed every day, if that’s not civil war, I don’t know what is. After listening to him, NPR brings us the “Big Dick” to explain that, really, things are going swimmingly in Iraq. Once again, Dick attributed this recent upswing in violence as a desperate insurgency of outsiders hoping to disrupt the benign political process, which, according to Cheney, is running right along as scheduled.

Is Iraq really better off now than it was three years ago? I don’t think so. People can navigate in a world of known rules better than in one of unknown rules. While acknowledging that Saddam is a horrible person who executed thousands, prosecuted a crazy, wasteful war, and someone I wouldn’t want to sit down for coffee with, he seemed to have kept some semblance of peace in the country. I guess I can’t say that with any kind of real knowledge besides what I’ve read Iraqis say in magazines. (And I’ve read other Iraqis’ accounts of how brutal Saddam and his sons were.) But I read some different ideas and meanings of freedom during in an intro to philosophy class, and came away with this crazy idea that freedom can have multiple meanings for many different peoples. Our idea of freedom—voting for the president, driving around in a car, shopping for designer clothes—but having a government who controls most everything and who the individual is powerless against, may not be someone else’s idea of freedom. (Is it yours? Is it mine?) Of course, an individual is powerless against any form of government. It’s the perfect system, straight down the line from the fiefdoms of the middle ages. Although they’ve granted us a little more mobility, it’s the same pig, a little dressed up.

Anyway, I can’t decide if the people in Iraq are any better off now. But nobody else here can either, I don’t give a fuck if he is the vice president. Live under a brutal dictator and go safely to work and back home again, or be invaded by a weak foreign power who allows the country to fall into anarchy and risk being kidnapped or killed going to get some food? But you have freedom, oh yes? The parliament is operating in the green zone, fighting over who should be the Prime Minister?

Freedom’s on the march!

Take cover!

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