Throughout the history of warfare it has generally been accurate to say, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” In 2003, this adage has never been more true than in the days and weeks that followed “Debaathification” and the decision to essentially fire all of the Iraqi military. That is when our “liberation” of Iraq effectively became, in the eyes of the Iraqis, especially the now-unemployed Iraqi military, an “occupation.” This most unfortunate decision undermined the progress being made by the transitional government and the positive, growing relationships between American and Iraqi military leaders, ultimately unleashing 500,000 well-armed, organized and patriotic countrymen. Having had their prideful military status stripped from them, culturally their manhood, it only took a little prompting and support from Al-Qaeda for these former nationalistic patriots to become America’s worst nightmare. What an incredible calamity we inflicted on ourselves – and the Iraqi people.
In June 2014, we saw where many of these former Iraqi military patriots, their leadership predominantly Arab Sunni, had become so marginalized by the Shia-dominated government of Baghdad, that they welcomed the invasion of the Islamic Society of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical Sunni Islamist group, in order to ultimately destroy the dysfunctional and highly sectarian Shia-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Thus, we have a real mixture of ideology and motives spanning from eastern Syria to western and northern Iraq, creating at least a temporary Islamic Caliph.
Lest we forget, the poster above depicts the conflict between the Irish Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland back in the 1980’s, each side considering themselves to be patriots and the others to be terrorists. On the right, of course, is a photograph that represents the Sunni (al Qaeda, Hamas, etc.) against both non-Muslims as well as the Shia’ (Hezbollah, Iran, etc.).
There are no easy or immediate answers as we strive to better understand our adversaries – some of whom are fighting for a cause much like sparked the American Revolution.
Indeed, “terror” is in the eyes of the beholder.
Categories: Culture vs. Religion