Steven Vincent reports on Iraqi shame and resentment toward the United States.
To offer one example: At a small social gathering in Baghdad recently, a woman expressed great excitement over the freedom in her life occasioned by the fall of Saddam. In the same breath, however, she added, "but I hate the occupation of my country so much I fantasize about shooting a U.S. soldier." When I suggested a link between U.S. soldiers and Saddam's demise, she replied, "I know that — and you can't imagine how it humiliates me."
There, in an Iraqi nutshell, you have it. Underneath the joy these people feel upon their liberation from Saddam runs a countercurrent of shame over the fact that they couldn't do the job themselves. "If you'd only given us more time, we would have risen up and overthrown Saddam," a waiter lectured me. This sense of impotence explains, in part, the ungracious gratitude expressed by many Iraqis toward the U.S. — otherwise known as the "thanks America, now go home" syndrome. It also underscores how naïve we were to think that our invading troops would be wholeheartedly welcomed as liberators.
This is a very difficult problem to deal with. How to encourage Iraqis to feel more responsible for the events that take place in their own country?
The willingness to embrace paranoid conspiracies flows from a belief in the omnipotence of the United States.
since America is all-powerful, they reason, mistakes and mishaps in our actions are really part of some Bush-administration strategy.
For a discussion of the larger problem that the Iraqi resentment illustrates see my post On Globalization And The Psychological Visibility Of America. Also see Robert Koehler's excellent response where he reports on South Korean resentment toward the United States.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 October 28 03:27 PM Mideast Iraq|