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Betrayed
March 24, 2007 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Betrated: The Iraqis who trusted America the most. George Packer on the dangers facing Iraqis who cooperate with the US. [more inside]
posted by kirkaracha (38 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the hotel window, Othman could see the palace domes of the Green Zone directly across the Tigris River. "It's sad," he told me. "With all the hopes that we had, and all the dreams, I was totally against the word ‘invasion.' Wherever I go, I was defending the Americans and strongly saying, ‘America was here to make a change.' Now I have my doubts."
Laith was more blunt: "Sometimes, I feel like we're standing in line for a ticket, waiting to die."
posted by kirkaracha at 6:40 PM on March 24, 2007


This is an amazing article. Read it.
posted by TonyRobots at 6:43 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


'Betrated'? That word makes my head hurt.
posted by delmoi at 6:49 PM on March 24, 2007


I heard this dude on Fresh Air this week.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:57 PM on March 24, 2007


It reminds of when Bush Sr. secretly urged the Kurds to rise up against Saddam after the first Iraq war, hinting at military support if they did.
posted by Brian B. at 7:02 PM on March 24, 2007


My wife and I were just listening to the Fresh Air interview with Packer mentioned above while out shopping today. We each alternated between speechlessness and outrage. The negligent treatment of Iraqis by American civilian contractors seemed particularly egregious.
posted by hwestiii at 7:25 PM on March 24, 2007


I was reading the print version of this article last night; it includes a photograph that's not reproduced in the online version. In it, the body of a murdered Iraqi man, his hands bound behind his back, lays face-down in a trash heap, literally thrown out like garbage. And seeing that man, and wondering about his family and his last minutes, I just started crying -- out of anguish and helplessness and white-hot fucking fury at what the fucking government of this country (and every one of its fucking enablers, domestic and foreign) has done to Iraq, and the fact that not one of them -- not one! -- will ever be held responsible.
posted by scody at 7:26 PM on March 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


The Assassin's Gate was a great read. Phase 4 was a fuck-up from A to Z. We are fighting a colonial war in a post-colonial era, and doing an extremely shitty job of it.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:33 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


It reminds of when Bush Sr. secretly urged the Kurds to rise up against Saddam after the first Iraq war, hinting at military support if they did.

That was the Shia.
posted by delmoi at 7:48 PM on March 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Very interesting read. Well written, good points.

This is a difference I've noticed between Afghans and Iraqis. The Iraqis I've met and trusted wanted to leave; the Afghans simply state that this is their country and why would they leave?
posted by Dagobert at 7:52 PM on March 24, 2007


That was the Shia.

It was both, but especially the Kurds.

Moreover, during a major Kurdish uprising in Iraq, the much-needed air support that President Bush Sr. promised never came, resulting in a horrifying massacre of countless people. Now, one of the alleged hallmarks of our invasion is to save the Kurds. As shown above, the US has never really cared about the indigenous people of the Middle East, and just looks out for its own interests.
posted by Brian B. at 7:54 PM on March 24, 2007


Actually, it was the Shia first, and then the Kurds a few years later.
posted by mediareport at 8:02 PM on March 24, 2007


what the fucking government of this country (and every one of its fucking enablers, domestic and foreign) has done to Iraq

well, to be fair, it wasn't exactly the land of milk and honey to begin with.
posted by quonsar at 8:13 PM on March 24, 2007


Here's a link on the 1991 uprisings said to be inspired by Bush Sr. and CIA broadcasts, which failed due to the lack of direct support. Although we enforced a no-fly zone at the time, we allowed tanks and artillery to massacre the uprisings we looked forward to. The mass graves the neo-cons raved about as a pretext for a second invasion were mainly from these uprisings. In hindsight, we should have partitioned the country that we handed back to Saddam and forced his Sunni supporters to revolt instead in order to retain their control of the oil. There was always a hidden US agenda it seems.
posted by Brian B. at 8:22 PM on March 24, 2007


A string of bad events had given Othman the sense that time was running out for him in Iraq. In November, members of the Mahdi Army—the Shia militia commanded by the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr—rounded up Othman’s older brother and several other Sunnis who worked in a shop in a mixed neighborhood. The Sunnis were taken to a local Shia mosque and shot. Othman’s brother was only grazed in the head, but a Shiite soldier noticed that he was still alive and shot him in the eye. Somehow, he survived this, too. Othman found his brother and took him to a hospital for surgery. The hospital—like the entire Iraqi health system—was under the Mahdi Army’s control, and Othman decided that his brother would be safer at their parents’ house.
Wow.

well, to be fair, it wasn't exactly the land of milk and honey to begin with.

It may not have been paradise, but it wasn't a country where corpses were dumped in garbage cans on a daily basis. To equate Iraq today to Iraq before the war to Iraq today is utterly disingenuous.
posted by delmoi at 8:25 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, heavens no. They used mass graves.....
posted by dwivian at 8:32 PM on March 24, 2007


Can't leave a decent comment. It's all just too fucked up. I am in a constant state of overwhelmed. Fucked up fucked up fucked up. All of it, from tip to toenails, fucked up.
posted by Wonderwoman at 8:37 PM on March 24, 2007


"And just 38% said the situation in the country was better than before the 2003 war, while 50% said it was worse." What does it mean if half the population of Iraq would rather have Saddam Hussein than American-backed democracy?
posted by stammer at 8:38 PM on March 24, 2007


I'm just waiting for the thread, full of "."s... "Iraq passed away today, violently, eyes wide open."
posted by tehloki at 8:46 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


This was covered on 60 Minutes a short while ago -- video on C&L.
posted by dobbs at 8:49 PM on March 24, 2007


see also Baghdad Year Zero.
posted by maryh at 8:56 PM on March 24, 2007


NeoColony...suxxorz
posted by taosbat at 9:10 PM on March 24, 2007


we allowed tanks and artillery to massacre the uprisings we looked forward to.

Not just tanks and artillery; allowing Saddam to use helicopters is what really wiped out the Shiite rebels we encouraged in the south in 1991. The lack of promised air support for the Kurds in 1995 was another example of the kind of diplomacy the U.S. was known for in the region. And now this.
posted by mediareport at 9:15 PM on March 24, 2007


Such a sad story.
I'm glad Meridian isn't in this thread.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:16 PM on March 24, 2007


Holy. Fucking. Shit.

That was one hell of an article.
posted by smeger at 9:25 PM on March 24, 2007


George Packer from 2003:

It's possible that Makiya's ideas are too lofty to stand a chance of being realized soon. David L. Phillips may be right to say that 'Iraqis aren't quite ready for the new politics. The tribal structures, the ethnic groupings -- they matter to Iraqis. They're important. This isn't a university laboratory.' It's also possible that Makiya was foolish ever to imagine American cooperation with his exile dreams, and that he is out of his element in the dangerous labyrinth of Iraqi power politics. Meanwhile, ahead of the war, an Arabic translation of the report is being smuggled from Iraqi Kurdistan into Baghdad in miniature editions disguised as cigarette cartons.

'The document is just paper at the end of the day,' Makiya told me one snowy evening at his Cambridge apartment. 'One of the less grandiose impulses behind it was this: there's a world of people out there deeply, deeply skeptical about whether or not this country can make it to democracy. And I know deep down that they have good reason to be skeptical. I'm not really as rosy, I'm not as naive as sometimes I appear on this question. But it seems to me, for history's sake, important to have a group of Iraqis turn out a decent document that can be taken seriously, that will be picked up and remembered and churned over and used as some kind of a test, some kind of a yardstick against which to measure the progress of things afterward. And it was, after all, produced by Iraqis -- so that Iraqis can lift their heads up a bit and go out there in the world and say: 'We meant it. It wasn't all a word game. Some of us tried to give it a shot.''

George Packer is the author, most recently of 'Blood of the Liberals".


Blood of the liberals indeed. I sentence George Packer to 10 minutes of freedom, alone on the streets of Baghdad.
posted by geos at 9:25 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Being alone on the streets of Baghdad is OK. It's when there are others around you that the shit starts to go down.
posted by Dagobert at 10:31 PM on March 24, 2007


well, to be fair, it wasn't exactly the land of milk and honey to begin with.

Actually, where the Tigris and Euphrates meet is most likely the original "land of milk and honey".
posted by telstar at 11:09 PM on March 24, 2007


Exodus Chapter 3, Verse 8

...and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

The Bible disagrees with you.
posted by Dagobert at 11:35 PM on March 24, 2007


From the article: The more chaotic Iraq became, the more the Americans resorted to bureaucratic gestures of control. The fact that it took five signatures to get Adobe Acrobat installed on a computer was strangely comforting.

Ooba Dooba.
posted by telstar at 12:23 AM on March 25, 2007


The Bible disagrees with you.

And I disagree right back.
posted by telstar at 12:33 AM on March 25, 2007


a fine article indeed.
posted by dydecker at 12:12 AM on March 26, 2007


The word “security” was ubiquitous—a “magical word,” one Iraqi said, that could justify anything.
posted by srboisvert at 3:22 AM on March 26, 2007


A great article, thanks for posting.

I hope lots of people read all 16 pages.
posted by Mr Bismarck at 5:28 AM on March 26, 2007


"And just 38% said the situation in the country was better than before the 2003 war, while 50% said it was worse." What does it mean if half the population of Iraq would rather have Saddam Hussein than American-backed democracy?
posted by stammer at 8:38 PM on March 24 [+] [!]


I wonder if that polling includes Kurdish Iraqis. Did anyone catch 60 Minutes a couple weeks ago when they profiled Kurdistan, the northern region of Iraq? Iraq is about 30% Kurdish and their territories are stable and peaceful, despite being 40 miles from Baghdad. The Kurds have their own army and handle their own security because (unlike Sunni or Shia security forces in Iraq) the Kurdish security forces are reliable and can be trusted.

I do recall reading a civilian contractor's blog that the best way to ensure personal safety in Baghdad is to hire Kurds as your personal security, becuase they won't be bribed by fellow tribe members.

I suppose I don't really have a point here, other than to wonder if the Kurds are included in this data because they are apparently pretty happy with their results after the invasion. Also, I wonder what lessons from Kurdistan can be applied to the rest of Iraq.
posted by b_thinky at 10:28 AM on March 26, 2007


How much more evidence do we need of the abject lack of morality in the Bush administration? They lie, they steal, they use the tactics of tinpot dictators to corrupt the justice system and steal elections. They let the people who tried to help us in Iraq twist in the wind without protection or support. And then they wonder why there's an insurgency.

Also timely for me. (Self-link to the Ask.)
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 3:45 PM on March 26, 2007


The British government was advised against publicly criticising a report estimating that 655,000 Iraqis had died due to the war, the BBC has learnt.
posted by homunculus at 5:51 PM on March 26, 2007


Who is running this war? I can't imagine why our trigger happy army wouldn't make it a point to protect these guys, even if it was JUST these guys. The message should be: "These people are on the inside. They are untouchable." I mean if you're going to level neighborhoods and wreak havoc, at least do it to make a point.
posted by OldReliable at 11:17 AM on March 27, 2007


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