In a recent article by Dr. Amaal V.E. Tokars, she writes: “There has been much talk recently over whether or not Iraq has fallen into a state of civil war. If this talk is true, then the question of who is to blame for the violence has a simple answer, and a rather convenient one for the US administration.
If we buy into this notion of civil war being the result of sectarian unrest, then the cause of the violence falls on the Iraqi peoples rather than on the US administration that declared war on Iraq in the first place.
In the recent violence in Amarah, it was reported that 25 people died in a showdown between the sectarian forces of Cleric Muqtada al-Sadre and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim’s Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq. The showdown involved one established militia fighting with another. Both militias are Shiite, that is, they are both of the same religious sects.
Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. citizens were painted a chaotic picture of unrest between the Iraqi and the Kurd, where a U.S. intervention was needed in part to relieve this friction. After the invasion, U.S. citizens were told a similar story about unrest between the Sunnite Sect and the Shiite Sect, and warned that a U.S. withdrawal could lead to all-out civil war. A closer look at the present violence in Iraq, however, raises an eyebrow about placing the blame on civil dichotomy alone.
Recently, Bush met with General John Abizaid who is now the top U.S. commander in the Middle East–part of the U.S. administration’s public relations push for Iraq to take responsibility for themselves. It seems that this P.R. campaign is catching on, as congress is now beginning to call for the same.
One thing being ignored amid all this political hand-shaking is that the deep violence done to Iraq’s civil society has been a result of a collapse of infrastructure, which occurred over the last 15 years of U.S. embargo and U.S. war. Civil society, by definition, should permit and perpetuate all the essentials needed for the fabric of society to flourish. It should be a haven for the arts of antiquity, equitable education, daily electricity, drinkable water, meaningful work.
These are just a few things that the flourishing existence of Iraq experienced prior to U.S. intervention. Now, the fabric has been frayed, and these precious things lay in ruin. Without that prolonged harmony of infrastructural and societal systems that is essential to civil society, it is certainly not possible for Iraq to readily raise itself from its ruin now.
Recently, the U.S. military announced the deaths of a Marine and four U.S. soldiers, raising the number of American service members killed in October to 83, the highest monthly toll this year. The U.S. military generally avoids reporting the Iraqi death toll of the like, which is usually much higher.
Story after story of young men and even boys being killed after being sent to Iraq come home to us. In the intervention that began as Operation Iraq Freedom, we have to wonder: what are we teaching our youth about civil society?”