Why Didn’t the Iraqis Welcome their Liberators?
Consider a country that is in a state of poverty following years
of war, poverty, suffering and international isolation. Even though they fought
to liberate themselves from British rule in the 1920s they are now suffering
from internal repression by their own politicians and religious leaders. An
appalling numbers of deaths resulted from fighting within the country – nothing
to do with outside oppressors this time. The population are basically
well-educated and proud but are suffering. They have exported millions of their
people around the world – refugees from their own country.
Fathers leave their families seeking work in order to send hard
currency home to feed their families. The people suffer from an extreme form of
state and religious domination – the two working hand in hand. "Thought police"
attempt to control what people think – or at least the thoughts that people can
express. They are forced to attend weekly sessions of indoctrination or else
face social ostracisation. The women are forced to have large families and birth
control is outlawed. Many children effectively go hungry and are stunted in
their growth when compared with those born in wealthy countries. Many children
are taken from their parents or abandoned by their parents and held in
‘concentration camps’ and abused physically, emotionally and sexually by evil
men sponsored by the government.
The glorious leader of this country actually extols poverty as a
way of life for his people. What they can listen to on their national radio
stations is censored to the nth degree. They cannot listen to any form of
popular music – The authorities especially frown upon jazz – American jazz is
regarded as the devil's music. These unfortunate people have to rely on overseas
television and radio for a broader picture of the world. Mineral resources in
the ground are under-exploited and even where they are extracted from the
ground, this wealth does not go to help the people in their plight.
Imagine living like that in such an oppressive State?
And if you did live in such a country you would surely want to be
The story continues when one day the leader of the government of
a foreign wealthy country, who is sure that they know better, makes an
announcement. (Wealthy countries always think that they are superior and know
what is best for poor countries.) In any case this foreign leader announces one
day that his army is going to liberate you from your poverty. We will rid you of
those religious and political oppressors he says. The British Prime Minister
declares his devotion and love for the Irish people and says that his armies
will march in and rid us of DeValera and the Catholic Church. Such is his
people's love for us, the Irish, they say that they will only bomb military
targets. They are only opposed to the evil Government and Religious zealots that
have kept us in misery and isolation for so long.
Of course we are talking about Ireland in the immediate postwar
period in the late 1940s and early 1950s. A time when England was almost
universally hated and despised here. But also a time when tens of thousands of
people were emigrating to England for work and to be able to send money
home to feed and clothe family members left behind.
Young boys played at re-fighting the Second World War in their
back gardens. But what adults watching them, as they shot each other with their
camáins, may not have realised was that many of these children
were shooting down English soldiers as they fought side by side with
their German allies against the English. This was a time too when many
thousands of Irishmen had only recently returned from the four corners of the
world having fought in the British Army.
Would Ireland of the 1950s regarded such an invasion as
liberation? Would we have showered British soldiers with rose
petals? Unlikely. So perhaps the unexpected attitude and ungrateful
response of the Iraqis towards their supposed ‘liberators’ from the USA and
Britain is not so inexplicable after all.
Nationalism is a strange thing.
And here's one prepared earlier - written before the war started.