10 September 2006

"The Americans.....treated us better."

Hallelujah! Abu Ghraib is under new management. The evil, abusive, doggie-leash-wielding Americans have gone, and the Iraqi authorities are now in charge of the place. What a relief this must be for the poor, tortured, panty-terrorized insurgent mass killers who have suffered so much there at the hands of the infidel invaders. Why, no doubt they and their new Iraqi overseers are even now sitting in a circle together, holding hands, and singing "Kumbaya".

Or, uh, maybe not.

Who'd have thought things could get so bad that the incarcerated jihadists would actually wax nostalgic for Lynndie England and the gang? In hindsight, though, it's not surprising. The US military is the product of an advanced civilization and adheres to an elaborate tradition of civilized warfare, violations of which (such as the earlier abuses at Abu Ghraib) are sternly punished by the American authorities. How many armies could have kept 130,000 troops in a violence-wracked alien land for years and had so few cases of abuses against the indigenous people? In the Islamic world, by contrast, such traditions of self-restraint by those who wield power over others are -- to put it kindly -- not a prominent feature of the culture.

Installing a democratic system in a non-Western country simply means that the people of that country can choose their leaders and have a voice in how the country is run. It does not mean that those people or their institutions will suddenly start conforming to Western standards of behavior which are alien to their culture. Just ask anyone who's been in a Turkish prison.

Think Americans hate the jihadists? How do you think Iraqis feel about these fanatics who deliberately blow up crowds of children in the streets and are trying to wreck the country's once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a decent government after decades of Saddam's ghastliness? When they get some of these monsters under their thumb, humane Western standards for the treatment of prisoners are the last thing that's going to be on their minds.

I've long believed that once the Iraqi military reaches the point where it can securely exert its government's authority throughout the country, the Iraqis will actually be able to fight the "insurgency" more effectively without our presence than with it. Iraq is not Minnesota or Denmark or even Serbia. The Sunni fanatics bedeviling the country probably can't be brought to heel without using tactics that we Americans could not allow ourselves to use, nor even tolerate the Iraqis using, if we were there to see up close what they were doing.

It can't come soon enough for me, because that will be the day when we can finally get our troops out of that nightmarish place and bring them home. As for what the jihadists suffer at the hands of their former victims, I won't lose any sleep over that.

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