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The Two Wars in Iraq: Ours and Theirs

By Lisa Schirch

Americans and Iraqis tell two different stories about the war in Iraq. Most Iraqis say that the U.S.-led invasion and occupation have fueled violence. The dominant American story is that U.S. forces are curbing sectarian violence and making things better in Iraq. This gap in perception severely undermines public diplomacy efforts throughout the Muslim world, and demands much greater effort toward understanding the Iraqi point of view.

Recently, I was sipping tea with a group of Iraqi community development workers in Amman, Jordan. The conversation shifted from a focus on their attempts to reconcile Sunni, Shi'a and Kurdish leaders in villages across Iraq to the larger question of how to reconcile U.S. and Iraqi narratives about the war.

"Do Americans know they have made the situation worse? Do they know there was no al-Qaeda here before the war, but now our cities are full of terrorists?"

The dominant, though of course not sole, Iraqi version of the war goes something like this:

While some of us wanted the United States to help overthrow Saddam Hussein, most of us think the Americans have stayed too long. The U.S. presence in Iraq fuels sectarian violence and has been a magnet for al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters. Iraqis feel humiliated by the occupation and believe the United States continues to stay in Iraq to justify building permanent military bases and to ensure access to Iraqi oil for U.S. corporations. We want the United States to announce a timetable for its departure. Violence will decrease when the United States leaves.

Iraqis name the indignity of the occupation as the major reason why they want the United States to leave their country. Many Iraqis believe that U.S. interests in both Iraqi oil and the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq sway, if not control, Iraqi politics. They point out the irony that those wanting a "soft partition" of Iraq are unlikely allies, as such a partition would allow greater influence by the United States, Iran, al-Qaeda, and corporate oil interests. Most Iraqis themselves, on the other hand, prefer a strong central government that controls its own oil.

This Iraqi narrative is confirmed by polling data. A new ABC/BBC poll showed that over 70 percent of Iraqis want the United States to leave Iraq. Most believe the U.S. troop "surge" has increased rather than decreased violence in Iraq. Earlier polls by World Public Opinion showed that while nearly half of the Iraqi population supports attacks on U.S. troops, only 1 percent agrees with attacks on civilians across sectarian lines.

Here in the United States, the dominant narrative is quite different. It goes like this:

While some of us believe we should not have gone to war in the first place, many now believe the United States has some responsibility to prevent the sectarian violence which we believe threatens to pull the country apart. American leaders across the political spectrum believe the United States should stay in Iraq until security improves. The American public generally agrees that a vibrant democracy in Iraq is central to U.S. interests in the war on terror."

Within this narrative, many Americans see two choices: a long-term U.S. military presence, or a U.S. withdrawal leading to sectarian warfare. But there is a third option for responsible U.S. engagement in Iraq.

General Petraeus cautioned more than a year ago that in Iraq "there is no military solution, the solution is economic and political." If the U.S. presence is indeed fueling rather than curbing violence in Iraq, it is time to go a step further, by withdrawing U.S. troops, supporting international peacekeeping forces, initiating robust regional diplomacy, and investing in reconstruction and humanitarian aid for the nearly five million displaced Iraqis. This plan would more accurately respond to the true democratic wishes of the Iraqi people.

It is time Americans engage Iraqis more directly in dialogue to build a bridge between these two very different stories. Our policy discussions of "what to do about Iraq" need to include Iraqi civil society, government or religious leaders -- and seriously consider polling data and Iraqi elections as signals of Iraqis' desire to have American military forces leave their country.

Lisa Schirch is a professor of peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University and the director of the 3D Security Initiative. She has spent time in Iraq working with Iraqi civil society organizations involved in peacebuilding efforts. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

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Comments (31)

kunino:

Like the late Saddam Hussein or loathe him, one must recognize that he tamped down the kind of communal violence we've all been watching on our televisions since the US invasion and occupation. One must also recognize that, years after the end of the Hussein regime, the current Iraqi regime is completely unable to match that record -- while the Coalition of the Willing are there as well.

On this basis, the Hussein regime was better than the current one -- and it didn't need more than 100,000 foreign troops to prop it up. This is less to praise Hussein than to deplore the current setup. Whatever the United States is in Iraq to achieve, it clearly hasn't yet achieved it. Whether it's achievable at all remains a controversial matter.

Secular:

Excellent analysis, I am not sure I agree with all of it. In my opinion the motivation for going into Iraq are not any that we have heard so far. The motivations as old as those that took the nobility of yester year going to wars and battles. The predominant reason used to be that A has offended B on a personal level and nothing to do with the interests of fiefdom of A or fiefdom of B. In this case A (our most beloved leader) felt offended by B (you know who) offended him by insulting A's pappy (trying to kill him, then putting his face on the floor for all to walk on it, etc, etc). So A wanted to avenge such affront. Hence we are in the mess we are in. There was not a moment's thought given to spreading democracy in Iraq before the invasion. Smoking gun, and possible Al-Qaeda connection were all intentional prevarications introduced before the war just to justify to the gullible populace. I think each of the architects should be sent to Gitmo for some strong interrogations and then every thing will spilled. What is good for the Goose is good for these Ganders.

Joe Stein:

"It is time Americans engage Iraqis more directly in dialogue to build a bridge between these two very different stories."

It wasn't the American citizenry generating these stories.

The author of this piece conveniently forgets that it is the media's responsibility to the news in a fair and objective manner--something that it failed to do when reporters were embedded into military units.

For a time, the media just reported the contents of Pentagon and White House press releases as fact without verification.

How dare the author try to blame the American citizenry for the failure of the media to do its job properly!

Ray:

Prof Schirch's analysis of opinion polls is better than the mainstream media's relentless propaganda about all sorts of garbage: "we are fighting al Qaeda over there", "we are there to act as a counterbalance to Iranian influence" (forget the fact that Maliki govt installed by US occupiers is full of Iranian supporters), and the biggest lie of all "if we leave, there will be horrible secterian violence". I can not imagine anything worse in Iraq than the living hell US invasion and occupation have created there.. My questions to the US voting public are: 1) if this is a democratic country, why do big business and their paid agents in the Congress decide what wars we should fight, and how long they will continue such wars to spend tax-dollars to enrich big-oil, miltary suppliers, for-hire mercinaries such as Blackwater? 2) if this is a democracy why is that less than 5% of US population who are jewish dictate what US mideast policy should be (blind support for Israel without regard to what's in the best interest of USA)? 3) if this a democracy, why is that after 2006 election with a Democratic majority in both Senate and Congress, the people have been unable to stop US occupation (and continued destruction) of Iraq? In anyother democratic govt such as Englad or France, the voters would have decided longtime ago that people elected to represent them in the federal govt actually carry out what the voters want in the most serious decision of waging wars.

Anonymous:

To look no deeper than "the surge is working" is to be blinded by a "con job" as opposed to a "fact". At best the surge only brought our deaths back to 2005 level, so for those that are so willing to believe anything at this point just to appear as though we are actually accomplishing something is nothing more than a disguise and they are the victims once again. "The Lord wouldnt have made you sheep if he didnt want you sheered". Comes to mind.

First it was the annoucement that "the end of major combat operations" even today only 28% of Americans actually know that there have been over 4000 American deaths in Iraq according to the latest Pew research poll.

So its really no surprise that so few paid any attention on the latest six day battle in Basra last week, and even fewer noticed that the Republican candidate seemed oblivious along with Bush. McCain was just as wrong about Basra as he was back in 03 when he said the war would be brief and paid for by the Iraqi oil revenue.

Perhaps all of the mistaken judgement can be attributed to war fog, but McCains bigger picture is even foggier, just like Bush he maintains that Iraq is the central front on the war with Al Qaeda, while they were not even a participant in that the Basra fighting. Al Qaeda is busy enough in Afganistan and Pakistan which is the actual center of the war on terror.

So my suggestion to these two dueling dummies is acknowledge the fact that you both were totally wrong and lets get back to the real war on terror, way to many have lost their lives on your blunders and admit there is no war to be won, the Shia and the Sunnis have been trying to control each other for ever, kinda like the Conservatives tried to do here and failed miserable. So for once in your life George do the right thing as opposed to your lying deceitful ways.

The Iraqi people will never allow us to occupy their land, and rightfully so. No one can show me anywhere anything that says that we have a right to invade a soverign nation and place our system of government into place, isnt that the total opposite of Democracy. Get real here folks how is that so very different than the Nazis.

What they do in their country is none of our business and you can throw a lot of other countries into that fray, who do we think we are... the modern day Romans. If we were really concerned about our nation we would start a systematic recall of all of our troops where they were not encouraged to stay there and secure our borders along with our ports and defense system, we would be far safer and not creating more and more mortal enemies like the Bush bunch is doing.

Those that believe that we can just blow up whom ever we choose, occupy the world are basically the disciples of doom that this neocon Administration along with FOX [al JaZERRA NEWS] drug addicted Limbaugh and a number of other war mongors, we have no future if we continue down that path.
People that call them selves Conservatives yet subscribe to this maddness have lost the real meaning of Conservatism, and are being controlled by the few safe and secure NEOCONS that actually believe that war is the answer. To awaken each morning to the reality of these unamericans who are dictating our policies is a sad reflection on just how far we have regressed under this administration.

Anonymous:

To look no deeper than "the surge is working" is to be blinded by a "con job" as opposed to a "fact". At best the surge only brought our deaths back to 2005 level, so for those that are so willing to believe anything at this point just to appear as though we are actually accomplishing something is nothing more than a disguise and they are the victims once again. "The Lord wouldnt have made you sheep if he didnt want you sheered". Comes to mind.

First it was the annoucement that "the end of major combat operations" even today only 28% of Americans actually know that there have been over 4000 American deaths in Iraq according to the latest Pew research poll.

So its really no surprise that so few paid any attention on the latest six day battle in Basra last week, and even fewer noticed that the Republican candidate seemed oblivious along with Bush. McCain was just as wrong about Basra as he was back in 03 when he said the war would be brief and paid for by the Iraqi oil revenue.

Perhaps all of the mistaken judgement can be attributed to war fog, but McCains bigger picture is even foggier, just like Bush he maintains that Iraq is the central front on the war with Al Qaeda, while they were not even a participant in that the Basra fighting. Al Qaeda is busy enough in Afganistan and Pakistan which is the actual center of the war on terror.

So my suggestion to these two dueling dummies is acknowledge the fact that you both were totally wrong and lets get back to the real war on terror, way to many have lost their lives on your blunders and admit there is no war to be won, the Shia and the Sunnis have been trying to control each other for ever, kinda like the Conservatives tried to do here and failed miserable. So for once in your life George do the right thing as opposed to your lying deceitful ways.

The Iraqi people will never allow us to occupy their land, and rightfully so. No one can show me anywhere anything that says that we have a right to invade a soverign nation and place our system of government into place, isnt that the total opposite of Democracy. Get real here folks how is that so very different than the Nazis.

What they do in their country is none of our business and you can throw a lot of other countries into that fray, who do we think we are... the modern day Romans. If we were really concerned about our nation we would start a systematic recall of all of our troops where they were not encouraged to stay there and secure our borders along with our ports and defense system, we would be far safer and not creating more and more mortal enemies like the Bush bunch is doing.

Those that believe that we can just blow up whom ever we choose, occupy the world are basically the disciples of doom that this neocon Administration along with FOX [al JaZERRA NEWS] drug addicted Limbaugh and a number of other war mongors, we have no future if we continue down that path.
People that call them selves Conservatives yet subscribe to this maddness have lost the real meaning of Conservatism, and are being controlled by the few safe and secure NEOCONS that actually believe that war is the answer. To awaken each morning to the reality of these unamericans who are dictating our policies is a sad reflection on just how far we have regressed under this administration.

Chaotician:

Get serious! Our enemy is in the WH! George has done more damage to our nation than any cave dweller in Afganishtan! We are more than 5000 deaths later, hundred thousand admitted wounded, untold thousands more mentally deranged and who may never recover, some 500 Billion dollars into the hands of the corporate suppliers of our miltary adventures around the world, perhaps 3 Trillion dollars coming as debt to the future generations also going into the corporate enablers of these debacles, divided our nation into fragmented communities at war with each other, encouraged a ignorant, debased Christian communities to support their efforts in some blind belief that their accomplices would address their ignorance and bias; AND most importantly privitized our government to these same corporations, their wealthy owners, and other fellow-travelers...we used to call this Fascism and we used to be aginst such blatant power grabbing. Now we are numbed by mindless TV, Mindles religions, and mindless leaders; our media is more propaganda than informative; our polictial capabilities have been channeled and rendered powerless; our last line of defence, our judiciary, is now infiltrated by these same interests to the point where they were able to pick a President of their choosing in contrdiction of the "voters"! Since then, their power has only grown, now they and George have a private army funded by the government, a private judiciary funded by the government, and a private prison system funded by the government! Something not even intertained in far out TV shows could ever have happened...a serious debate on the effectiveness of torture..in American, the land of the stupid, but at least not the land of tortue and murder for politcial ends!

America has lost its soul, its humanity, now it is just one more failed experiment in human life!

IRAQI ALBAATH PARTY CALLS USA FOR PEACFULL NEGOTIATIONS:

DEAR NEWSWEEK RESPONSIBLES
GOOD DAY
BELOW ARE SERIOUSE UPDATES INFORMATIONS REGARDING THE IRANIAN AND ITS MILITIAS ( ALSADDER, BADER , ALDAA-WAA MILITIAS) CONSIPRICY AGINST IRAQI CHRISTIANS , USA TROOPS AND CITICINZ IN IRAQ , JEWISH AND IRAQI INTELLIGENCE SYSTEM.
Our embedded agents in these militias gave us followings vital informations which is related to newest conspiricy meeting in IRAN - (in KUM Holly CITY ) Against :
1- USA citizines and military troops in IRAQ plus thier old and new military and intelligence bases...etc.
2- Anglo-Sax. and Anglicans ethinicities in Iraq
3-Catholics in Iraq
4- Jewish in Iraq
5- Iraqi intelligence system/agency ( guided by AlShahwany)
These Iranian leaders orderd their militias ( above 5 mentioned Iran's militias) to register and search for the above 5 mentioned groups of yours ,their names,addressess, movements , activities , relations ...etc. Priorities are mainly to check for them in the Green Zone and AlHartheyia and Zayoona cities ....and other hot areas/cities in Baghdad and Basraa ( Basraa represent the Oil-Kuwait-Iran-Gulf quadrangle point of meeting) mainly and others comes next ...etc.
IRANIAN CONSPIRICY , GUIDED BY THE IRANIAN SECURITY OFFICERs PLUS ( KASEM SOLAYMANY) , against above mentioned groups,ethnicities ..etc.
The conspiricy meeting against above 5 , was with followings melitias / parties
1- AlSadder (AlMahdy) sheeat militia
2- Bader (Higher council of islamic revolution by AbdulAzeezAlHakeem - guided by HADY ALAAMERY (the chief officer of Bader sheeat militia) , and Ammar AlHakeem ( communicating directly with Hady AlAamery )
3- Al-Da-Awaa sheeat party - meeting - guided by Ali AlAdeeb
4- Iranian AlQaaeda militia and others
( memo: all above militias plus AlQaaeda trrorists are supported by Iran)
THEY ( IRANIAN LEADERS - PLUS KASEM SOLAYMANY ) , ordered these sheeat parties /militias to check and register above 5 mentioned groups and ethnicities for near future assassinations of them or capturing for data extraction ,,,etc.
because Iran are prepairing to put great pressure on USA and other coalition forces from Europ , Arabian Gulf Region , Hurmaz cannal ..etc. to prevent or at least make a great loss among the attckers...
THE SECOND ORDER FROM IRANIAN LEADERS TO THE 3 MELITIAS AND ALQAAEDA AND OTHERS TO DOMINAT/CONCUR/CONTROLL THE OIL RESOURCES IN IRAQ
The 3RD ORDER WHICH WAS AS EXPECTED -IS TO PUBLICALLY DECLARING TO THE MEDIAS TO STOP THE FIGHTINGS BETWEEN THESES MILITIAS ,
BUT THE 1ST 2 ORDERS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL TO IRANIAN LEADERS.( THE MEANING IS VERY CLEAR)
THE ABOVE INFORMATIONS WAS CONFIRMED BY OUR SPECIAL RESOURCES EMBEDDED IN THESE CRIMINAL TERRORIST PARTIES
THEIR ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO FULLY OCCUPY IRAQ AND CONTROLLES ALL THE MID.EAST OIL AND OTHER MILITARY,ECONOMIC...etc. wise and to place it in an situations can be used against USA AND OTHER COUNTRIES THAT MAY THREATEN IRAN ...etc.
We think this great update news , you can be sure of it by your special resources , we hope thses data from us show you that we like and we are sincere in our intentiones to start seriouse top level negotiations between you ( USA government and us-Iraqi AlBaath Party-Iraq)
to start new solid peacfull white page coalitions and relations between us for the sake of our both interest over the long run

We are ready to start our negotations at any time , any where ( including in USA ) you would like except followings countries : Iran , Kuwait and Israeal.
We arewaiting for your responce about our negotiations sooner we hope.
Regards
IRAQI ALBAATH PARTY HEADQUARTERS
April , 03, 2008

James Allen :

The Maliky government knows how to end the war and the occupation of Iraq.The solution is simple thia wahat will end the war;
1. Turn over the oild feilds to the Dick chineye
2.Get the Iraqi army to take the cruisader role to fight Iran like Saddam did.
3.The same Iraqi army should be responsible to protect isreal.

There goes the American definition of democracy ; in other words destruction of humanity is an american government objective we all should help to acheive.

Wrong about Americans:

There's some good stuff in your piece, but aside from one outlier poll with poorly-worded questions, the majority of Americans want us out, with a withdrawal process starting either immediately, or within a year. But yes, we should get out, but that doesn't preclude humanitarian aid funds.

walkman56:

Learn our lesson like Russia did in Afghanistan,cut our too many needless losses and get the hell out of a country we have no business being in.

wardropper:


What do we do?

We stop putting the priorities of fanatical Zionists and greedy war-profiteers highest on our list, then we start looking at the mind-set which assumes that whatever America thinks is right, somehow, always IS right, wherever, whenever and for whomever.

Not so difficult, really, for politicians with a modicum of self-control.

Vic Van Meter:

Actually, this article misses the real point. THE point, actually. The only point that matters in the world of global politics. What you're seeing and reading are only a half of the real story of what is going on.

Polls certainly indicate that the Iraqis want us to leave. Some because they believe we fuel sectarian violence in the region, which is likely true. Some probably also support American withdrawal because they'd like to increase the sectarian violence. In the end, the primary point being that sectarian violence, if it is going to happen, will happen whether the United States is around or not. Iraqi civilians on the ground want us gone for all sorts of reasons. And they have an ally Lisa didn't specifically point out.

The American public wants a withdrawal. The American story isn't really that we have a responsibility to stop the sectarian violence. In fact, talking to my fellow American on the street, it's much more accurate to say that most American citizens are fed up with the Iraqi government's slow progress (though how long would you suggest the formation of a constitutional government should take?) and feel somewhat used. The conventional war was simple enough. American armed forces took something on the order of two weeks to annihilate Saddam's army and capitulate the government. Then Bush decided to try to make Iraq in America's image, which turned out to be not such a bright idea. So it seems that civilians on both sides are tired of American occupation in Iraq and want America to withdraw.

America did invade Iraq, did fight exceedingly well, and the soldiers there are doing the best they can. The Iraqi citizens are also coping and doing the best they can. Why not let Iraq to its fate and allow everything to fall into place?

This is where the big problem comes in. Elements within the government would like the Americans to remain. Why? Because the government is weak with its people at the moment. It constantly bungles its assignment and is consigned to petty squabbling. So when strong, well-organized militias under charismatic leaders rise up, you have two options: diplomacy (which hardly seems to be working) and warfare. The Iraqi forces are as sectarian as their citizens (which is probably much less than the media reports, but still significant) and are not as well trained or equipped. The American army, on the other hand, is most probably the most well-equipped, well-trained fighting force on the planet. Which would you rather send? Whether the citizens like it or not, for the government to keep power, they will kiss up to the Americans.

And then the American government... Where do we begin? I suppose most of it has already been said by louder voices than mine. The American government, particularly the executive, is where Lisa's story above comes from. Believe it or not, most Americans seem to believe that our only mission should be to fight Al'Qaeda. That means drawing our forces down from where they are at by vast margins and letting the sectarians sort out their differences all by themselves. But the American government will certainly have none of that. President Bush has, under no uncertain terms, declared his intention to remake Iraq into something he has no power to make it. In fact, his very actions are most likely retarding the reconciliation process by giving the government power over an armada well beyond its ability to raise on its own.

Now back to that basic point about global politics that seems to irk people. Why do governments and their people have different stories? In fact, if you look at any problem in the world between nations, you see that they are largely caused by governments acting in self-interest rather than national interest. What is happening in Iraq is almost a dead-on mimicry of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, only the prior is a much more globally inclusive issue. The issue being, what is best for the people of a nation and what is best for the people in the government, then between the two which becomes policy? And the answer is almost invariably the latter becoming policy.

Like Israeli conservatives calling for a Jewish state and Muslim seperatists calling for a seperate state (or one Muslim state) you sometimes forget that the best possible outcome for all people would most likely be to reconcile them both into one, secular government and make money from all the religious and political clout both sides have. But that finer point is obscured by men in government, their own power at stake, who insist that people cannot live together in one country in harmony.

Apply this segue to the Iraqi government using the American army. Only the American and Iraqi governments gain anything from the American military presence acting as a policing force. Both citizenries want the American army relocated to dealing with other people. Most people would rather talk to Iran (and I have definite opinions on why we should be talking to Iran even more than the Saudis at this point, making our diplomacy work for us again) here in America and the Iraqis are obviously working with their neighbor on foreign relations. It is in the interest of both nations, America and Iraq, to at least draw down the American army and relocate them to more important battlefields (such as Afghanistan, or maybe even one of those "genocide" countries we keep ignoring).

But it does not serve our governments. Hence our elongated involvement.

So there are actually four stories, not two. That of the Iraqi people, the American people, the Iraqi government, and the American government. The government positions are the ones always reported in the media because, God forbid, there might actually be a pair of governments here not acting on behalf of the majority of their populations. In fact, both governments are to blame for ignoring the wills of their collective peoples. The American army is late coming home and has worn out its welcome in Iraq.

Lisa pointed out two different stories and named them after the Iraqi citizens and the American citizens. Those two stories are, respectively, the Iraqi citizens and the United States government. Polls in both nations show that common people do not think it is worth keeping our military installed for one reason or another. The problem, especially for our media, is to reconcile these different stories and demonstrate that the Iraqis and Americans really have the same idea, we simply elected people who would rather prefer to keep power.

And that is rule 1 of global politics: Never ever understand a government as the direct representative of its people. The government has far too much interest in itself to even bow to the will of the people.

Rigged:

I certainly agree with Lisa Schirch's comments. The Bush administration is well aware, without the shadow of a doubt, that the Iraqi occupation is a neon-lighted recruiting poster for insurgents and terrorists. The Crown Prince of Jordan, one of our closest allies in the region, said recently on TV that the US occupation is part of the problem in Iraq, and not part of the solution. Interestingly, while some two-thirds of Americans question why we're still in Iraq, Cheney said in a TV interview that he really didn't care at all what the American public felt. So much for government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Of course, when it's been confirmed now that the Bush administration operated on the basis of overriding the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution in the year or so after 11 September, as well as conducting illegal wiretaps for several years, nothing is too surprising any more. Brings to mind a comment by Robin Williams on a TV program a few years ago. At a time when the Iraqis were discussing a new Constitution, he said: let them take ours; we're not using it.

We have already completed the "goals" set out for the invasion: eliminate Saddam Husayn, and destroy his weapons of mass destruction. None of the latter are around and he's gone. Let's go home....

Ghazwan:

Defiantly occupation is the disease rather than the cure to the Iraqi chaotic situation. America lost the war years ago when they failed to improve the living conditions of the civilian population. Iraqis are living in the dark for lack of electricity!! America could hardly match the prewar electricity production after 5 years of occupation!!
Half of the Iraqi medical doctors runaway for safety to neighboring countries, Hospitals are hardly functioning if one could go safely to a hospital! Iraq once had the best medical services in the Arab world. Now under occupation it is the worst!
Four million Iraqis are refugees around the world. One and half million of them runaway from, the “shining democracy” in Iraq, to ”the totalitarian regime” Syria!! Nearly 20 percent of the population of Iraq is now refugees thanks to the 5 years of occupation!!!
While Iraq was an exporter of refined oil products before the occupation now Iraq has been an importer of such product for the last 5 years. It is costing us the Iraqis more than $500 million a month!! Our crude oil is still exported without functioning oil meters after 5 years of lifting the UN sanctions. One can only “guesstemat” the actual quantity exported!! this lead to a huge Government corruption.
The Iraqi government after 5 years of occupation received the “honor” to be at the bottom of the list of the most corrupt government in the world (160th of the 163 countries) according to Transparency International.

To cut the long story short America has to listen to Iraqis people and address their concerns and stop listening to those “Iraqis” that America brought with them on the back of their tanks. It is a classical case of a blind leading a blind. You go no where.

Diana :

This article is exactly on point. The Iraqis are correct. The United States security strategy includes access to energy resources.

Many Americans are unable to accept the truth of what we have done in Iraq, although the tide is beginning to turn. Our leaders are fully aware of what they have done and continue to do, however, for the congressional republicans to align themselves with democratic proposals to end the war, or at least show accountability, would be to admit they have supported failed policies these past seven years, and this will never happen. As for us ordinary citizens, we voice our opinion by casting our vote, and for many it ends there. They refuse to even seek the truth. They continue to be too busy, or find it personally upsetting to acknowledge the truth. All the while the Iraqis suffer, turmoil continues, and our troops continue to risk their lives for a war based on untruths in order to strengthen and support our energy policies.

This war does not not support our american values. It is unpatriotic of all of us who turn a blind eye to the truths of this war which continues to put our troops further at risk.

geoffrey james:

Five years after the invasion, the capering loon in the White House has yet to address the Iraqi people. There is still profound uncertainty about the status of forces agreement. How long will the US be manning the world's largest embassy (as big as Vatican City) ? Is this the start of the 100 Year's War. Meanwhile the Vice President shrugs and says "So?"

John Stebbins:

I agree with General Petraeus who cautioned more than a year ago that in Iraq "there is no military solution, the solution is economic and political." I also agree that "Most Iraqis themselves, on the other hand, prefer a strong central government that controls its own oil". The $64 question is how to achieve these goals? The military has been put in an impossible position.They can't win and the U. S. under President Bush can't either. Too bad the election is is so far away. More lives and $$ to be spent for what??

zeravanbarwary:


it is not surprise for iraqian people to hreat like this opioion and i see that " lisa" did a good anlysing when she listened to iraqian people opinion , because they know more than any writers or political anlysis because they are parts in the difficult situation in iraq , but i want to ask everybody who have interesting about iraq crises , if this is the iraqian people opinion in out of iraq , how about who lives inside iraq .

Ken:

Thank you Lisa Schrich. Now, if only we could get someone to read and explain this to the despicably evil "w"/DICKY regime and that way-too-old warmonger running for president. The pseudo war hero will attack Iran. He is nuts. By the way, I hae no love for hrc and the slick bo either. Ken

We are the religion Of Everything before science of everything!:

SHAiME On, Water Gate Conspirator, Chucky "Chuck" Colson’s Prison Industry's not Ministries et al:

VOTE: Stop PBS TV & 'Chuck' Colson Et al From attempting to NATiONALiZE CHRiSTiANiTY as a State Religion!

VOTE: Abolish & forever, and sever All Strings , Favors directly & indirectly, a Governmental CHAPLAiNCY of Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Pagan/Wiccan, Hindu, Buddhists et al , Established or having Prongs & embedded in our own Governmental Structure, that's tied to 'ANY' "Church or Religion in Any Government Prison System and also Military Places that is supported by Tax Payers money! What they do t is contrary to the U.S. Constitution & other Human Rights Laws etc… They must be Stopped!

Please see the Conspiracy (Intelligent Designer Proponents who, not long ago, Failed , in their Judicial Attempts To Sneakaroo-in Rabbi Jesus in all Public Places) where now they want to Change the Constitution To "CHRiStiAniZe" Sweet Sweet SECULAR-U.S.A.! This will cause a Civil War!

This is 'Super StupidStitious Symptomatic PRE-Apocalyptic Behaviors via Religious Jealousy Psychosis & must be Stopped by them Wordmerchant or Ministers of Everything, best known as Nicolaitan’s , aka SATANS in Sheep’s Clothing for the nth time again! Yes, this means, Chuck Colson, John Hagee, Mike Huckabee , Rick Warren, Bishop Henry Jackson, Pre-Apocalyptic Lawyers (liars) , Pre-apocalyptic Scientists et al!

Note: The difference between a “Apocalyptic Scientist/LAWYER/JUDGE … (US {Eclati-On‘s, etc..}) & a Pre-Apocalyptic Scientist/Lawyer/Judge.. (Them {Christians.})!


Vote Apocalyptic [NEW TiME] not Pre-Apocalyptic [OLD time] Beliefs!

Honor All Frontal Lobe Apocalyptic H-U-M-A-T-E Kind‘s & Beware of the Pre-Apocalyptic HUMAN un-kinds!

David Le Vine:

Lisa Schrich has it right! I believe that the people of Iraq want us out of there. It's the politicians who are holding "hokey" positions and not resolving the civil and economic problems that want us to stay. With us gone, they would be too.
It's costing us the lives of the servicemen but let's remember too that our kids will be paying the dollars for this war as interest on the national debt.

Keith Ensminger:

Ms. Schirch correctly points out Iraqi angst with our continued presence. Imagine our angst if the tables were turned.

The Iraqi campaign is probably one of the worst tactical and stratigic mistakes in American history. Iraq has hobbled the military and thoroughly trashed our reputation with many allies who supported our war against Al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bush said our mission was to destroy WMDs and break the link between Saddam and Al-Qaida, and both propositions turned out to be false. We fell right into Al-Qaida hands by invading Iraq, a completely foolish theater of war. It's become our Somme and akin to Hitler and Napoleon's ill fated march into Russia. We're bogged down when our real enemies are in Afghanistan and the mountains of Pakistan. That's where our soldiers should be.

Bob Field:

Iraq is broken and is unlikely to be fixed. The U.S. installed Baghdad regime controls nothing. Real power is exercised by the Iranian backed Shia Islamic Supreme Council and its Badr militia. Iran now dominates 60% of Iraq and its power is growing.


john lannert:

I suspect that if Lisa Schirch sipped tea with Iraqis in Dearborn, Michigan, that they would want the U.S. out of Iraq.

Like polls of the U.S. primaries, the polls taken of Iraqi citizens are notoriously unreliable. If Iraqis want the U.S. to leave, then the Bush administration should ask the Iraqi government to put the question of departure to a vote in October when provincials elections are scheduled to be held.

Fred Seamon:

As a retired army officer and Vietnam Vet, I could not agree more with Professor Schirch's article.

During over 20 years' service as an intelligence officer and area specialist, I learned the value of viewing the situation through the eyes of the enemy, or in this case of civilian Iraqis.

If we want to combat Al Qaida effectively, we need to take her advice to "engage Iraqis more directly in dialogue to build a bridge between these two very different stories. Our policy discussions of "what to do about Iraq" need to include Iraqi civil society, government or religious leaders -- and seriously consider polling data and Iraqi elections as signals of Iraqis' desire to have American military forces leave their country."

Our enemy is in the tribal regions along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Keeping our troops in Iraq plays into Bin Laden's hands. It weakens our military, keeps the pressure off him and helps in recruiting jihadists.

DUMAS:

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
--Macbeth, Act V, scene v









Steve Real:

We're in the build phase of Counter-Insurgency Lisa.
So hang tough with US to get us through this phase.
It ain't gonna be easy.

COIN is working,
but it is clear to me
that we're going to be there
for another 5 years or so...

We broke it and running away
and hiding under the bed
won't help Iraq or US.

Let's get Al-Sadr to visit the US.

Why not?
Is he scared of visiting America?
He seems like such a toughie...
(I think he's a chicken really)

but if we could only get him to visit America
it would not only change him forever,
if not taint him forever.

Someone should approach him on an invitation to tour the US.

use your brains fellas
put a squeeze play on that brain of his

Earl Martin:

I can only try to imagine our response as Americans if, say, Russia were to keep an occupation force in, say, Saudia Arabia for five years to bring reform into that country. It would be so easy to see through their subterfuge to the real motives of consolidating their access to the petroleum resources of the area.
Cheers to Schirch for helping us see the Iraqi reality from an Iraqi perspective. How hard it is to see the world through lens different from our own.

Jesse Anderson:

Of all the things in the there people who just don't get it, for us to put our lives's on the line and then have them to keep us where the sun don't shine is dumb for them.The next time they will need our help will be when God get here.

Michael:

It's surprising to hear this point of view when most mainstream media portrays Iraqis as desperately hoping we will not leave them to be massacred by other sects and tribes.

I think the reason we don't want to leave has more to do with ceding influence to Iran (most of the oil is in the Shia areas), and less with protecting the interests of the Iraqi people.

I think the Iraqis would be better served with peacekeeping troops made up primarily of Arabs from neighboring countries. The only hard part will be keeping them there if there is some sort of terrorist attack.

De facto rulers such as Sadr cannot be ignored and will have to be ceded their various fiefdoms if we are to leave a country in relative peace.

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.