Posted by: sean | May 29, 2006

"Democracy assassinated the family that was here"

Here are a few interesting links that I’ve come across in the last few days:

A story from ABC about Chinese Muslims wrongly imprisoned in Guantanamo and then finally released after 4.5 years. They couldn’t be sent to China since the government there persecutes Uighurs, and despite being found innocent of any charges (NLEC, or No Longer Enemy Combattant, in Guantanamo Bay terminology – Mr Kafka could not have made this up if he had tried), being put away by the Americans for 4.5 years is enough to garner a bad reputation. So apparently, no country would take them, the US included, with the single and solitary exception of Albania:

We are very pleased that the Albanian government and the Albanian people opened their hearts and welcomed us. Despite the fact that all the strong, powerful, democratic countries are able and capable of accepting us, they did not do that. We are having some problems … there are no Uighurs in Albania, and we don’t speak the Albanian language. …

Were hoping that the United States government would recognize the mistake that it has done and accept, allow us to enter the United States. U.S. government captured us, U.S. government incarcerated us, locked us up in prison, and U.S. government said that we were not a threat and should be released.

Uighur-Americans came forward, made an offer to the United States government to accept us into Uighur-American society and community. They even went into the courts and contacted the lawyers and wrote a letter to the U.S. government officials asking them to consider releasing us into the United States. Unfortunately, it did not happen, a rather disappointing decision.

Otherwise, the Post ran a really interesting first person piece about Iraq, the Republic of Fear, which makes one fearful that Baghdad is slowly but surely turning into Beirut, circa 1980:

Today, the Americans are just one more militia lost in the anarchy. They, too, are killing Iraqis. …

Sectarian and ethnic cleansing has since continued apace, as mixed neighborhoods are “purified.” In Amriya, dead bodies are being found on the main street at a rate of three or five or seven a day. People are afraid to approach the bodies, or call for an ambulance or the police, for fear that they, too, will be found dead the following day. In Abu Ghraib, Dora, Amriya and other once-diverse neighborhoods, Shiites are being forced to leave. In Maalif and Shaab, Sunnis are being targeted.

The world wonders if Iraq is on the brink of civil war, while Iraqis fear calling it one, knowing the fate such a description would portend. In truth, the civil war started long before Samarra and long before the first uprisings. It started when U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad. It began when Sunnis discovered what they had lost, and Shiites learned what they had gained. And the worst is yet to come.

This made me remember reading a piece in Harper’s that said that maybe the best thing for Iraq would be for the US to withdraw and let them have their full-fledged civil war. (It was by Edward Luttwak and was adapted from a piece in Foreign Policy, which can be found here) The version in Harper’s ends like this:

…American forces continue to suffer casualties in combat against factions that should be confronting one another instead. Perhaps what the new Iraqi state needs in order to achieve stability is precisely a certain amount of civil war. Preventing it may impede a natural and perhaps very desirable political evolution. Americans would not today be happier if European Great Powers, horrified by the carnage of our own Civil War, had enforced an armistice between North and South that might endure still between two feeble states. …

It’s hard for me to know what to make of this idea. I’m not convinced that an all-out civil war would result in anything but a division of Iraq, or even worse, a regional war that would involve Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and probably Turkey as well. The latter is obviously a horrible idea, but I haven’t decided how I feel about the former.

Finally, the atrocities in Haditha make me think that maybe Luttuk and Rosen are right and the US should just get out as soon as possible.

I can’t get over this. I know that similar things happened in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and I know that we’re talking about kids who have been put in an extremely dangerous and stressful situation, and that sometimes people just crack. But I just don’t understand how someone can shoot a one-legged man in a wheelchair nine times. Or how someone can shoot a 1-year old baby. Say that again: a 1-year old baby. I just don’t understand.

At some point on Nov. 19, Marines in an armored convoy arrived at Haditha’s hospital. They placed the bodies of the victims in the garden of the hospital and left without explanation, said Mohammed al-Hadithi, one of the hospital officials who helped carry the bodies inside. By some accounts, some of the corpses were burnt.

The remains of the 24 lie today in a cemetery called Martyrs’ Graveyard. Stray dogs scrounge in the deserted homes. “Democracy assassinated the family that was here,” graffiti on one of the houses declared.

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