This ABC News report from Baghdad this morning details the Shiite response to Thursday’s murder of 215 Shiites by Sunni terrorists. In response to the murders, the Shiite Malitia did NOT seek revenge by locating and destroying a Sunni terrorist cell, nor did they track down and kill any known Sunni terrorists? The Shiite Malitia’s initial response was instead to capture six innocent Sunnis as they left their mosque, douse them with kerocene and burn them alive. Many mosques were then set afire.
When President Bush first started to promote it, the idea of bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq seemed attractive, reasonable, desirable and eminently achievable. That, at least, was my first reaction and probably the first reaction of many others; but as time passed and as events unfolded it became more and more obvious to me that freedom and Democracy in Iraq are not possible . . . not in any form that the Western mind could comprehend. Why this is so is fairly apparent!
Freedom and democracy, as we know it in the West, require that people live their lives within limits . . . limits that were created by their fellow man and that are enforced by their fellow man, i.e., civil peoples exhibiting civil behavior enforced by civil law. That entire process and the mindset required to comprehend that process is second nature to the Western mind, we have been steeped in the concept since birth; but that same concept has to be unfathomable . . . unthinkable to the Islamic mind. The laws of Islamic countries are not the laws of man, they are the basically unchanging laws of their Prophets and their God. Day to day behavior in an Islamic culture is not dictated by societal norms that have developed over time and in respect to the concept of individual freedom. Behavior in an Islamic country is dictated by the interpretation of sacred texts by holy men; individual freedom is treated as something between an obscenity and an affront to God.
(The preceding is not an attempt to minimize the importance of religion in the development of our Western culture, but simply to point out that it is not possible to balance individual freedom with religious prudence when there is no individual freedom.)
The problem gets deeper and worse when you consider that even with a “democratically elected” government in place, the people of Iraq are living their day-to-day lives under a theocracy. They see the government as an interface with the rest of the world and as something that is completely unrelated to the realities of their daily lives. If typical Iraqis stop to consider their government at all, they will most likely see it as an evil entity that has brought death to their streets on a scale they could have never believed possible.
Freedom and democracy, as defined by Western (or European) minds, are the wrong goals for Iraq (or for any predominantly Islamic country). The only attainable goal, and consequently the only one we should be working for, is peace! Peace is a concept that is translatable into every language and one that is, at some level, desired by every man, woman and child, irrespective of where they live.
To reiterate my closing thought in a recent article on this subject:
“This is a Middle-Eastern problem and it needs a Middle-Eastern solution. If that solution does not resemble anything we like or have seen before or expected, so be it! The ultimate solution must center around an end to global conflict and focus on stability; the Middle-east will never get there using Western or European standards.”
After reading about today’s events in Iraq it is easy to dismiss Iraq as a problem not worth solving; a country so bent on its own self-destruction that we are wasting time, money and lives trying to resuscitate it’s feeble carcass; but its just as easy to justify our continued involvement, at least peripherally, with the hope that someday an innocent civilian will be able to walk the streets of Baghdad without suffering the throes of death or the agony of dismemberment. The cause, like all causes, is only worthy if the applied solutions are workable. Today the solutions we propose are Western (or European) solutions, products of a different culture . . . solutions that are not working. Its hard to believe, however, that all the lessons we have learned from Iraq have fallen on ‘deaf ears’ in Washington and that a workable solution will not soon be implemented.
ABC International News: Shiites Burn Six Sunni Worshippers Alive
American Chronicle (from AP): U.S. Laments Escalation of Iraq Violence
Special to The Washington Post: Exploring Islam — The World’s Second Biggest Religion Also Is a Way of Life
From the blogosphere:
An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings: This is SO Wrong!
Robert VerBruggen at Blogger News Network: Sunnis burned alive in Iraq
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