Commentary: Who Lost Iraq?

Rev. Ken Joseph Jr.


As the dust begins to settle around the dream that was Iraq, the finger pointing is beginning.

`Who lost Iraq?` is the simple, but profound question that many are beginning to ask.

As one who was in Iraq during the time of Saddam and has been their since as an Assyrian Christian, the indigenous people of Iraq the answer to that question is not just academic - it directly relates to the future of our people, the Assyrian Christians who are the original people of Iraq long before the Arabs came.

We are the people of `Nineveh` to whom Jonah came and comprise one of the last remaining major Christian communities in the Middle East.

First, is the question of Saddam. I was there. In an upcoming book entitled `I Was Wrong` I describe what life was under Saddam. I was originally against the war, but when I saw the terror that was Saddam and the pain my family lived under I was quickly brought back to reality.

It was terrible under Saddam Hussein! The `real` Abu Ghraib prison was a place where my relatives were beaten every day - after Lunch and Dinner. Monday and Saturday were the days people were hanged.

My relatives reaction to the Abu Ghraib `scandal`? They were angry - angry at the fact that the Americans could not do anything to try and get the truth out of those who oppressed them!

Chemical weapons? I was there! The great fear of the residents of Baghdad in the days leading up to the war were not the Americans - they were afraid of Saddam and all the weapons they believed he had and how he would unleash them on them when cornered. Everybody believed he had every possible weapon to obtain and would unleash it all!

Second, the deep appreciation for the Liberation of their country from Saddam. I was there! Imagine for the first time in your life being able to use a cellphone, surf the internet, speak on the telephone without fear, talk to your neighbors without being afraid, watch `normal` TV, wake up in the morning without having to see Saddam everywhere! Happy? They were delirious to have him gone!

Third, though is the real question. Why has Iraq gone so badly? The answer is a bit complicated, but there is an answer and it is still not too late.

Simply put Iraq was `lost` by Americans. Essentially two types of Americans who ruled Iraq in the days and months following the fall of Saddam.

In my upcoming book, `I Was Wrong`, I detail the many experiences we had firsthand.

The first type was what I call the `good guys`! If Americans have one major fault it is that they are so positive and forward looking and `good` that they have a hard time understanding how `evil`, `Evil` really is!

That was the lesson I learned under Saddam. Yes, he was really that evil and yes, in the 21st century there is such evil!

The `good guys`, where the `aw shucks` Americans that came into Iraq and did their best to organize, fix and restore Iraq. They could not imagine that anyone would purposely try to work against what clearly the Iraqis wanted.

I watched them, many times with tears in my eyes as they worked so hard, under such terrible conditions to make things better for Iraq.

`Why are you here?` I would ask over and over. The answer was always the same `I just want the Iraqis to have what we have. Just doing my job!`

How simple, how naÔve and yet how powerful.

A half century my own parents came to Japan following the end of the war with Japan and are still there. In talking to the men and women risking their lives to see Iraq restored I kept flashing back to my own parents.

A half century after he had first gone to Japan I asked my own father `Why, Dad did you come to Japan`

His answer? `Because Japan needed help!`. DAD! Thatís all? You have been here for 50 years now.

No matter how hard I push him that is all the answer I can get. `Because they need help?` How foolish! How naÔve! How powerful!

The first group that `lost Iraq` are the `good guys` the men and women who gave of their lives and their time to rebuild Iraq so the Iraqis could be free.

As my father, a half century after he first came they cannot understand or fathom how evil people can be that they would work against progress, blow up children, rape women and destroy oil fields.

They just donít understand!

The second group? `The opportunists`. These were many of the people working in the CPA - Coalition Provisional Authority who were there not to see Iraq restored, but simply to get a good line on their resumes and to get a job in the new administration.

A year ago those who were hoping for a job in a Kerry Administration had every incentive to see Iraq fail. While it is very difficult to point to specific instances,  put yourself in the position of a staffer desperate for a job in a Kerry administration in January.

The best way to insure it? For Iraq to fail!  Did it happen? I am absolutely confident it did. I saw it every day!

I am putting out a call to all who were working at CPA headquarters and others to come forward with details of how the `opportunists` worked against success simply to insure they would have a job in January!

A `forgotten` poster which was supposed to be posed all over the country announcing the plans of the CPA. `Accidentally `delayed telephones, computer systems and a host of other supplies we saw daily.

A whole class of staffers working subconsciously and often consciously to in their own little small way have Iraq `fail` so they could get a job in a new administration which would be directly linked to the failure of Iraq.

The third group? The mostly British `moslem experts` dispatched to `guide` the CPA.

I met them everywhere. They were and continue to be evil personified With beautiful British accents, though they always bowled over the Americans, enamored at the `class` that the Queens English always provides.

Outwardly liberal, democratic, free-loving, they were in actuality evil, promoters of the Islamic Republic of Iraq, always smiling and deceiving the `nice guys` who trusted the `advisors` as they interpreted, explained the `culture` and in as many ways as they could worked against any success that the CPA might attain by working in a calculated way to deliver Iraq to their paymasters in the `evil empire` which is radical islam.

Who betrayed Iraq? The `good guys` who naively believed, the `chasers` who desperately hoped Iraq would fail for their simple job needs and the `experts` who systematically dismantled all the good done for the Iraqi people.

In particular, who betrayed Iraq? In contrast to the `no-nonsense` Military Officer Jay Garner, I had the honor of meeting, I confronted Paul Bremer, his pathetic successor who personally betrayed the people of Iraq by turning it over before it was ready just to personally get out.


Is it too late? No!

We still have time to remedy the mistakes and deliver Iraq once again to is long suffering people.

The most important tool still remaining is the Constitution. Former Ambassador Paul Bremer betrayed the Iraqi people when in spite of the Iraqi Constitutional Committee voting that there `should be no mention of religion or ideology` in the new Iraqi Constitution, pushed on it article 7 which reads `Islam is the religion of the state`.

Imagine, fighting a war, sacrificing so many to create `The Islamic Republic of Iraq`.

The United States and fellow donors in the EU and Japan must absolutely demand that the Iraqi Constitution be secular with no mention of `religion or ideality` as the Iraqi people who are throughout secular want. 

Second, is realizing that Iraq is in fact four countries - `Shiastan` in the south, `Sunnistan` in the middle, `Kurdistan` in the Northeast and `Assyria` in the North.

The secret to success in Iraq? Providing maximum local autonomy and self government in the four `states` that constitute Iraq. The way to preserve the whole, as the United States has shown the rest of the world for over 200 years is to provide maximum autonomy to the states.

Can Iraq succeed? Yes it can!

It is succeeding fabulously! Internet service everywhere, freedom to speak, talk on the telephone, business is booming and the list goes on.

Over a half century ago when my parents first came to Japan America succeeded and an enemy - Japan - went on to become a friend and a partner.

Why? Because the US absolutely insisted on a secular and democratic constitution. The pressure was tremendous to compromise and give in, but the US prevailed and the results have `stuck` for a 60 years!

We can do the same in Iraq. Follow the example of Japan and absolutely insist that 1800 brave young Americans did not give their lives for `The Islamic Republic of Iraq` bur for freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

An absolute insistence on a secular constitution and local autonomy for the distinct people groups in Iraq is the way forward.

A successful Iraq will `dominoes` thought the region and the world. After all, freedom is the cry of every man and woman.

If we fail, `The Islamic Republic of Iraq` - an Iranian clone, but with the second largest oil reserves in the world will be unleashed onto the face of the earth in a manner that will pale in comparison to Saddam and Iran.

Stay the course! Insist on freedom, democracy and the rule of law! There is still time before the October 15 vote on the constitution to not ask, not urge, but as America did in Japan 60 years ago insist that the Constitution be secular and democratic with a bill of rights and complete local autonomy to the states so the whole can be preserved by the maximum autonomy of the parts.

As the very simple question, whether you were for or against the war `Did 1800 plus brave young men and women give their lives to create The Islamic Republic of Iraq`?

The Answer is clear!


Ken Joseph Jr. brought the first relief convoy into Iraq following the end of the war, directs and is currently completing `I Was Wrong` which will be out in the Fall. 


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