The report that the Iraqi Prime Minister called for the removal of American military checkpoints in Baghdad was the best news I have heard from Iraq in a long time. The reason it was good news is because we removed the checkpoints. I’m sure some would argue that the fact that violence escalated in Baghdad afterwards means it was a bad move. I disagree.
One message that needs to be sent loud and clear to the Iraqi government, the insurgents, Iraqi citizens in general, American citizens, and the world is that Iraq is a sovereign nation. That means that the duly elected Iraqi government is in charge of that country If they ask something of the American military in Iraq, we should do as they request. This is a clear case where that happened. Too many people think that we can make Iraq stable. The fact is, we can’t. We can help them, but they are the ones who make it stable or not. The citizens of Iraq are the ones who determine is this experiment in democracy works.
Americans need to recognize that no amount of military might will enable us to dictate the way things will work in another country. We can disrupt the existing system, but when it comes to setting up a new system we can only suggest – we cannot force. We have Americans saying that women should have the right to vote, and that the majority cannot trample the rights of the a minority. The fact is that Iraqis can reverse those decisions the minute we leave the country – no matter how long we stay. They are the only ones who can make lasting decisions.
We should also recognize that there is no way to forcibly end the insurgency so long as the perception remains that the government in Baghdad is under American control. If jihadists view the government of Iraq as autonomous from America they will not support the insurgency unless their goal is to fight Iraq. Until then, they will come make trouble in Iraq as a fight against America. Our goal is not to stop the fight against Iraq, only the Iraqis can do that. Our goal is to help the Iraqis and stop the fight against America.
The only way to stop people from fighting against America is to treat people with respect. We need to treat them with respect when we visit their countries and we need to treat them with respect when they visit our country. That responsibility does not rest solely with the government. That responsibility also lies with the military, it lies with each corporation, and it lies with all Americans.
If we respect Iraq and Iraqis we must be there to support and help, not to dictate. If we do not respect Iraq and Iraqis we will never be able to help and we should cut our losses because we cannot change them. We must respect them for who they are or else we have no business there.