Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dear Iraq: Be grateful

We are leaving.  I promise that is the plan.  But first, we will try to leave you with security you need to avoid devolution in anarchy.  Your police force was largely illiterate, wiith little or no knowledge of weaponary, and no knowledge of the laws of civilized nations beyond what is in the old testament or Koran.  Our citizens have paid to clothe them, train them, and provide them a salary with which they can feed their families. 

For reasons right or wrong, we removed a bloodthirsty dictator, and, in good faith provided the framework for an egaltarian society.  The man who used poison gas against thousands of his own people is now dead by trial and sentencing of your judicial respresentatives.  The progeny of these people can now vote in a representative democracy, and their voices can be heard, as can the majority Shia who were shackled by the Ba'athists. 

The stars of the previous Iraqi society have left Iraq under tyranny, but many return to build upon the ancient stones of thousands of years of productive peoples.  The infrastructure so damaged by Saddam, and then by the US military in its attempt to rid the world of his tyranny, has been costly, but the rebuilding effort has been mammoth.  Retarding renewal of a great nation via the guerrila warfare and terrorism, a small minority of Iraqi citizens, and jihadist recruits have and continue to kill for a purpose which is becoming more and more unclear. 

When the cover of the newspaper has photos of burning effigy of American leaders and an angry crowd in Baghdad on the day of several recent bombings, I am dismayed.  Is that fire different than that which melted the flesh of the young Iraqi children we now care for here?  Why must embassies of peacemakers be bombed?  Why must young soldiers be kidnapped?  The overall sentiment in Afghanistan and here in Iraq favors hastening of the removal of American forces.  Personally, I am more than happy to oblige in leaving this dusty hell-hole, but I also understand the long-term price to pay if we leave you in the hands of the Taliban and Muqtada al Sadr, respectively.  And thus, I remain here under the orders of our President.  But when in history has a conquerer, no matter the legitimacy of their conquest, acted more benevolently with concern for the vanquished?  Having learned a lesson after WWI, the allies after WWII were not even such benefactors to the losing Germans.  And that was a war between armies of nations, not upon innnocent civilians. 

I am not a historical scholar.  I am not a politician, or military commander.  I am just a doctor.  I am here caring for your (and our) injured and ill.  And all of the rest of us are here doing a job to help you as well - building your roads, designing your electrical grids, teaching your police.  Just be grateful for that.  I don't have to hear it.  I don't need the edification.   But don't curse my ancestors, and wish me ill.  Don't kidnap my brothers to torture, humiliate and kill them.  Just respect, to some degree, your benefactors; be thankful in your heart, thankful for our sacrifices to help you.

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