Tuesday, April 7, 2009
"They need to take responsibility for their country..."
From the Iraqi perspective, here is the view of Barack Obama's first Presidential visit to their country: a man flown in secretly, delivered to Camp Victory “to say thank you to the troops,” and gone in five hours.
I cringed as I read President Obama's rehashed talking points on his Iraq policy, a "responsible" prolonged withdrawal—specifically, I cringed at his patronizing Theys.
"They need to take responsibility for their country and for their sovereignty," he told U.S. troops in a short speech at a Saddam-era palace in the Green Zone, a section of Baghdad that the U.S. Army captured exactly six years ago. "They have got to make political accommodations. They're going to have to decide that they want to resolve their differences through constitutional means and legal means. They are going to have to focus on providing government services that encourage confidence among their citizens. . . . We can't do it for them."
I have never experienced the humiliation of occupation, but I can say now that I have experienced the humiliation of occupying. Many times before, I have said that the government and people of the United States have a responsibility to improve Iraqis' lives through nonviolent methods. Troop count alone—whether it goes up or down—will never define our progress and our righteousness. And here is President Obama, the new partner, the emblem of a new era, laboring the point of “responsibility" while neglecting the very people for whom we were supposed to have fought this war.
The responsibility to hand over responsibility? Bandied about and buzzing, the word "responsibility" is beginning to remind me of those doomsaying two words of May 2003—words so haunting that you needn't be reminded of them, and so historic that they have their own Wikipedia entry.
Image from The New York Times' Baghdad Bureau blog.