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
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
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
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
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.
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
A successful Iraq will `dominoes` thought the
region and the world. After all, freedom is the cry of every man
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`?
Ken Joseph Jr. brought the first relief convoy
into Iraq following the end of the war, directs
Assyrianchristians.com and is currently completing `I Was Wrong` which will be out in the Fall.