Saturday, December 30, 2006

The $350 Billion Noose

I will refrain from a rant about the philistine nature of showing executions on television - something we somehow historically managed to avoid until this morning (FOX 3:55am). Instead I would like to express my exasperation at the continuing ability of the Pentagon and State Dept. to get everything wrong. I'm not simply speaking about morality, but about understanding the dynamics of the conflict (the Iraqi population) and ultimately misunderstanding the "enemy" because the enemy is an "other". We are in the middle of a civil war which we have helped to create and yet we still don't understand the rules of engagement, we don't seem to be able to understand the basics of this sectarian war. Why? Perhaps because we have too many wonks and painfully few regionalists in the ranks. In short we can't see the dynamics because we don't consider the "enemy" as an equal - but as an other, invisible and mysterious.

Here is how Saddam's execution plays into sectarian divisions:

The tribunal...had a unique sense of timing when choosing the day for Saddam's hanging. It was a slap in the face to Sunni Arabs. This weekend marks Eid al-Adha, the Holy Day of Sacrifice, on which Muslims commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son for God. Shiites celebrate it Sunday. Sunnis celebrate it Saturday -- and Iraqi law forbids executing the condemned on a major holiday. Hanging Saddam on Saturday was perceived by Sunni Arabs as the act of a Shiite government that had accepted the Shiite ritual calendar.

The timing also allowed Saddam, in his farewell address to Iraq, to pose as a "sacrifice" for his nation, an explicit reference to Eid al-Adha. The tribunal had given the old secular nationalist the chance to use religious language to play on the sympathies of the whole Iraqi public. (Juan Cole)

It is painful to watch as the situation bottoms out further and further and yet our ignorance charges full steam into the inferno.

1 comment:

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