Just a few weeks ago Christopher Hill, a correspondent for CNN, wrote his opinion about the troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Around the same time Doyle McManus, a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, wrote his opinion about the future of the upcoming elections in the Middle East following the recent revolutions.
In his article, Hill examined the Shiite-Sunni divide in Iraq that had long been ignored by the United States government and the Multi-National Force in Iraq and the ultimate question, “Who lost Iraq?” Hill said that the United States leadership could not be to blame. They did what any occupying foreign military should do when asked to leave, and that’s to leave. He asked whether Americans had any right to speak about the dangers of “Iran-ification” of Iraq when the Iraqi people lost millions to this enemy.
Hill also examined the foreign intervention of domestic affairs in Iraq. But lastly he brought the Sunni-Shiite divide up once again. This divide has led to many conflicts in Iraq including fighting, political conflicts, and a questionable future in Iraq.
In his editorial, McManus analyzed another important question that’s arising as a result of these numerous revolutions sweeping the Middle East: who is going to lead now?
McManus pointed out that a significant contender for power in the Middle East are the newly-founded Islamic parties. He pointed out that in post-revolution elections, whenever an Islamic party has participated, they have done considerably well, even winning a few following elections.
After that, McManus pointed out, was when the consequences of a religiously motivated party took place. After the first few post-revolution election cycles came, the Islamic parties either started restricting participation in elections, postponed and rescheduled elections for more favourable ties for them, or stopped holding elections altogether. However, McManus also noticed that in a large number of cases, the Islamic parties’ hold on their power in government started to slowly shift to more secular parties and liberal choices.
McManus said the U.S can cope with the Islamists and try to encourage free and fair elections, but whether we like it or not, the Islamists are there to stay, either in their moderate, liberal, or extremist form.
Both editorials deal with very important questions; questions that are on the minds of many Americans. I happen to disagree and agree with about half of all points.
The first issue at play in the troop withdrawal from Iraq is not “did we win?” it’s “did Iraq win?” We cannot overstay our welcome in another nation if their leadership is asking us to leave. It’s respect for another nation’s sovereignty and independence. We as a nation cannot say, “No, we won’t leave your country until we know we are safe,” to another nation. It’s disrespect. They only morally right choice we had was to leave Iraq.
While we as a people want the peace of mind that we are safe, we need to have faith and trust that another government that they won’t let more extremists come into being.
Another key factor that Americans over look is culture. In the Arabic world, the Islamic culture has been in the majority for centuries, and to turn their back in favor of a more liberal or moderate choice of parties could very well be wrong to them. It could violate customs and traditions that they’ve had in place for centuries.
To persuade people to abandon a part of their society is like asking the American people to give up their right to guns, apple pie, baseball, and democracy; things that our absolutely crucial to our cultural identity. So do we, as Americans, have any room to disagree with policies newly elected Islamic democracies want to institute.
While yes, Sharia law can be extreme, it is very much a part of their culture as freedom of religion and democracy is a part of ours. We have no room to talk about the freedoms these people want when in fact we are still trying to give equal freedom to all people in our own nation.
America’s ultimate fear in the Middle East is that the people who depose despotic leaders, will then elect fundamentalist Islamist parties who want to institute Sharia law, something we view as evil and wrong. But once again, what right does one culture have to judge another about their customs and views, when our customs and views could be viewed as equally appalling to them.
Even though the United States is the dominant world superpower, we must allow new democracies to govern in their own national interests, not in the national interests of the United States, even if we claim national security. The American public will have to deal with new Islamic democracies’ policies, and hopefully the political environment will gradually become more favorable to our interests as the young revolutionary generation comes to age. History teaches that as the revolutionary generation ages, the younger generations become more secular and positive towards western culture.