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Re: [casi] Peace Groups in Baghad.

You have written a thoughtful message.. I am not informed enough on Iraqi
history and culture to have an equally thoughtful response to the issues you
have raised.  It seems to me that the Bush administration has unnecessarily
and carelessly and ignorantly precipitated the Mother of All Culture Clashes
with no regard for the pain caused to millions of people in the mideast. It
is a terrible thing he is doing through ignorant stupidity, myopically
focused on oil.

I do not see how this can end well for any of us. pg

In this regard, today, an Op Ed in the New York Times:

The killing of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, is a tactical victory
for the American occupation of Iraq. But it is not a strategic one. By not
capturing these odious symbols of the old regime alive and putting them on
display, the American occupation authority has denied itself the chance to
give absolute proof of their demise to a society that rejects authority and
thrives on conspiracy theory.

It has also lost an opportunity to give Iraqis a chance to purge their
bitterness, and satisfy a deep-seated need for revenge, by confronting their
tormentors in court.

Yesterday the United States presented evidence - dental records and
identifications by officials of the Hussein regime - to prove that the
brothers were indeed killed in a firefight with American forces. But many
Iraqis seemed unpersuaded. Even more telling, others voiced disappointment
over the two not being captured and subjected to the sort of treatment they
meted out to their victims. By denying Iraqis their revenge on the sons of
Saddam Hussein, the American authorities have overlooked the needs of a
society dominated by the rural values of the diverse tribes that make up
much of the country's population.

This background of revenge may put the lie to the optimistic declarations by
United States officials that the corner has been turned in the pacification
of Iraq. With the deaths of the two brothers, they predict, Saddam Hussein's
followers will lose their will to resist. And while the officials concede
that in the short run the deaths may result in increased guerrilla attacks
on American troops, they also argue that soon those passions will be spent.

But another possible series of reactions cannot be ignored, however. Strikes
against the American military in Iraq may decline immediately only to
re-ignite later. For the Iraqis have long memories. Supporters of Saddam
Hussein may lie low before seeking revenge for what the American invasion of
Iraq has done to their status in the power structure. More significantly,
tribal elements who opposed the regime may hold the United States
responsible for not giving them the opportunity to extract their own
vengeance on Uday and Qusay Hussein.

It is also uncertain whether the United States will be able to tell its
story to the Iraqi people. The American military may control large parts of
Iraq, but it does not control the flow of information. The Iraqi media is
capable of devising its own narrative of the firefight, and there's a good
chance that this narrative will not paint the United States in a favorable
light. (Even the American release of photographs may not confirm that the
brothers were killed.)

The United States continues to forget it is dealing with a culture that is
far older and far different from its own. Suspicion and distrust of
authority is deeply rooted in Iraq. Through Iraq's long history, conqueror
followed conqueror. As a result, the diverse groups of people who lived in
what came to be designated as Iraq in 1921 found their only real security in
family and tribe. Even though the elite that ran Iraq after independence in
1932 had urban attitudes, the ties of family and group remained enormously

In 1968, when the Baath Party came to power, the tribalism that had been a
characteristic of Iraq since its inception intensified. The Baath Party
itself was the purview of one tribe, the Bu Nasir, the tribe of Saddam
Hussein. In 1991, in the service of survival after the gulf war, Saddam
Hussein gave tribalism a prominence it had not been accorded since the
formation of Iraq. At the same time, repressive politics and economic
hardship continued to drive out the old urban elite and much of the urban
middle class that had risen during the oil boom of the 1970's. In the last
decade of his regime, Saddam Hussein remade Iraq into a country governed by
the rural values of the tribes. Operating according to the values of the
tribe, the system sanctioned the age-old principle of revenge.
Saddam Hussein meted out revenge on those who defied the system. They went
into the regime's torture chambers and prisons. Tribes visited revenge on
the regime for slights to their honor and for punishment of their members by
Saddam Hussein's security system. The imperative of revenge was no different
in late-20th-century Iraq than it had been for the tribes living for
generations on the land of Iraq. This is a fact that the Bush administration
needs to realize.

In giving up on the attempted capture of the Hussein brothers as too risky,
the American administration of Iraq has ignored the dictates of Iraqi
culture. At the same time, it also runs counter to the kind of country we
want Iraq to become - one built around the rule of law. Under Mr. Hussein's
reign, justice, to the extent it existed, was consistently perverted. It was
erratic, violent and retributive, a tool of Mr. Hussein and his Baath Party.
By not doing more to allow Uday and Qusay Hussein to surrender, the United
States lost an opportunity to show Iraqis that those who have committed the
most heinous of crimes can still be brought to justice.

On trial in Baghdad, the Hussein brothers could have recounted the regime's
crimes. Certainly, the effort would have been more drawn-out than a
firefight - getting Balkan criminals to The Hague has not been easy - but
the results would have been more lasting. An appearance by the brothers
would not only have pinned them to their gruesome past, it would have also
demonstrated the effectiveness of a sound system of justice.

The deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein are being proclaimed a victory, but it
is a temporary victory. And the manner in which they died is yet another
long-term complication for the American occupation of Iraq.

Sandra Mackey is author, most recently, of "The Reckoning: Iraq and the
Legacy of Saddam Hussein

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bert Gedin" <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 5:54 AM
Subject: [casi] Peace Groups in Baghad.

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