Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Modern Iraq

What's wrong with those people, why can't they get along? Why is that place such a mess - have they always been that way?!

Well, yes and no; and as fate would have it, the root of the answer is that it takes western white folks to come in and really screw up a neighborhood.

I know that a lot of people here don’t have a clue about where this country has come from, or why these people are always fighting. Probably fewer still know that what’s happening now is far from the first time such things have occurred.

Somewhere in the late 1300s, Turks rolled in and took over what is now Iraq: Prior to that, for along, long time, there were separate and relatively autonomous areas of Kurds to the north, Sunnis in the middle, (The so called ‘Sunni Triangle'), and Shiites to the south. All that ended in the 1500s when the Ottoman Empire claimed most of Iraq, a situation that remained basically status quo until believe it or not, World War 1.

So, here’s the quiz: How long has Iraq been a ‘Country’, and how’d it get that way?

Well, again, the answer is, you need westerns to help you do this. In 1917, during the Great War, Britain captured Baghdad, and it was then that things really began to get screwed up: Ever wonder why they’ve been so dang loyal through these recent harangues? Easy! Because they’ve been feeling potential ever since they lost Iraq in 1932! Yep, it was the Brits who took chunks of Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite lands and put a border around it all; a thing us western colonialists just love to do in our typical arrogant, arbitrary fashion. Now, all of a sudden, you have thoroughly disparate groups that traditionally don't get along at all being told they're now countrymen by some foreign power who showed up and simply decided that they'd all get along because we said so - Neat trick, huh?

Now, the Brits have always dug monarchy, so why change here? The first Iraqi King was pretty much installed by none other than T.E. Lawrence: Yep, Lawrence of Arabia, who was, if you didn't know, very much a real guy and an inveterate meddler in other people's worlds…. By ’32 Iraq was more or less 'independent', but the colonial hooks remained deeply set: Oil was discovered in the north of the country in the late 20s, and then in the south. Although Iraqi Petroleum had the rights to all the finds, don’t let the name fool ya; they were based in London. That, by the way, is one big reason that the Sunnis have always been fired up to get and hold control; 'cause in that there Sunni Triangle, there ain’t much oil, gang…

Monarchies turned to coups in the late 50’s, and a series of military leaders appeared. About the same time, Kuwait was looking to free itself from British rule, (Yeah, they were there, too), and got friendly with Iraq. Iraq began to notice that, well, owning Kuwait would give them more Gulf access, more oil, and would just be real darn convenient: Neither the Kuwaitis or the British were real keen on the idea however. This chunk of history ended with a ’68 revolution that put the Ba’ath party firmly in charge. A young Saddam was working diligently therein, and in ’79, he got the nod and proclaimed himself both President and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council.

Kuwait-Iraq squabbles were ongoing all through the 60s and 70s, and faded only at the advent of the Iran-Iraq war in ’80. Oh, and don't forget; all us friendly western powers were real helpful during that conflict: Iraq got weapons and money from Britain, the U.S., China, and Russia. Oh, and the French – They gave Iraq her first nuclear reactor, which the spoilsport Israelis promptly destroyed.

Of course, the Kuwait-Iraq conflict resumed immediately after that Iran thing was done, and we all recall that Saddam’s boys rolled into its neighbors turf in 1990. And then we came and saw and kicked their asses, sort of…

Nope, we all know that Geo. Sr. didn’t go to Baghdad, didn’t get it done, and that wound has festered for… Well, let’s see… About 13 years before we had the proper stooge in place, and a plausible enough reason manufactured to go in and really screw things up good!

Thank God we’re able to bring our kind of democracy to the needy parts of the world, huh?!

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