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It is far too late to try to rescue the neoconservative dream in Iraq. The author is misguided at best, delusional possibly, or perhaps complicit in this debacle. There is no "pony" to be had, whether our troops, mercenaries, NGOs and the like stay or go. My further concern as an anthropologist is that ongoing conflict, with "coalition" troops following their stated strategies, will further erode what traditional ties unified even the subgroups or tribes. What will result will be devastation worse than is already seen there--stateless leaderless mobs of thieves and murderers as in African postcolonial states. Cultural and human resources will be destroyed or commodified as they are right now.

Democracy is the smallest part of what the US by its policies seeks to export to Iraq. The neutralization of local political and social mores and traditions is the first goal; the desired end product is a docile busy worker who spends his meager wages on consumer products and has little time to think about politics--much like in the United States. Real democratic decision-making would no doubt result in divisions along ethnic, religious and class lines, leaving at least four mini-states: Kurdistan, Marsh Arabs, urbanized city dwellers (secular, Christian, Sunni and Shiite), and the wanderers and small numbered peoples. We would like them all to become people who use bank machines, watch sports on television, practice their religion rarely and in a fashion that does not interfere with commerce, and eat at chain restaurants.

The author's proposition is a self-sabotaging fool's endeavor--colonialism at the end of a gun has never resulted in an independent democracy to date nor is it likely to. Imposed political systems can only be maintained through force and fear. The atrocities committed by American troops and our proxies, publicized by the world media and the Internet, sponsored by Rumsfeld and Cheney, have poisoned the well. Depending on expatriate crooks who see a new confidence trick is not the source of indigenous democratic political movements but the face of empire.

We now see "why they hate us." Our freedoms were signed away with the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act and countless other small but significant actions, so they cannot hate us for the freedom we are now afraid to use. The mish-mash "War on Terror" we have concocted mixes Nazi-like rhetoric and ideology, aspects of the Phillipines campaign in the Spanish American War, the unmetered extraction of Iraqi oil and the adoption of a set of domestic and foreign policies antithetical to our founding documents and our national character. All men are created equal, not all white male Protestants who attended Ivy League schools as legacies, or any other construction of the term. All humans are equal and have rights; this is what the conservatives hate about us, both Islamic and domestic.

Never have Americans been more like our victims abroad--now we,too, may be declared "enemies of the state" at the whim of a psychotic demagogue and his henchpersons. Never have Americans been so afraid of the world that we would sacrifice our birthright to be protected from those threats. This is a monster we made. We have been haggling with the Middle East since our nation's founding with a policy of non-interference--why and for whose benefit have we sacrificed our very freedom and democracy, now in the hands of criminals, thugs and schemers? We cannot stop them killing each other today; should we murder them until we achieve a quorum of skeletons? Shall we continue our decline into an authoritarian empire to assuage the consciences of those who threw in their lot with madmen to achieve what they thought were admirable goals?

Erik D. Hilsinger

Anchorage , AK

Jul 9 2007 - 3:58am

Web Letter

I have lived in Muslim and Arab countries for around twenty years and currently live in Turkey. I have travelled throughout the Arab world and, as an interested party and historian, have read extensively.

Iraq is a faux country created out of the British allotting the Middle East to various powers as it divided up the Ottoman Empire. Lloyd George wanted his sphere of influence in Arabia and traded off unexplored and unknown territory in Mesopotamia to satisfy Saudi factions. Thus Saudia Arabia and a place to be called Iraq were created out of various ethnic and tribal homelands. The French were given a placed to be called Syria. Jordan and Jerusalem would be bandied about.

After disarmament of the Ottomans, France was allowed to move into southeastern Anatolia. The Italians were given the Anatolian Mediterranean coastal land, the Greeks were encouraged by Lloyd George to take the western half of Anatolia, and the British, French and Americans occupied the Dardenelle and Bosphorus Straits.

Col. Mustapha Kamel, with the empire then reduced to a small wild territory in the center of Anatolia around the town of Ankara, drove them all out. The Turkish Republic was born out of a bloody struggle to drive out the invading Greek army that was ferried in (and ultimately out) by the British.

The various peoples of the place called Iraq was not as fortunate. Now that its dictator (à la Tito in Yugoslavia) is gone, the territory is reverting to its historical divisions. Humpty Dumpty and all of Bush's forces will never put Iraq together again.

Now the armies of the WW I Allies are occupying they place they called Iraq, still ignorant of its history and differences. The folly of The Great Game lives on into a third century of imperialism.

Dr. Clinton J. Vickers

Assos, Turkiye

Jul 2 2007 - 2:07am

Web Letter

As Dreyfuss says, the glue holding these nationalist forces together is opposition to the coalition presence in Iraq. No need to wonder why Washington doesn't support the nationalists--indeed, Washington's seal of approval would be a sure kiss of deal for them. Such are the paradoxes of Realpolitik.

Dave Barlett

Miami, FL

Jun 29 2007 - 8:21pm