What exactly are we fighting for?

The Washington post ran this story today, which profiles Faisal Ismail al-Zobaie, the chief of police in Fallujah. You should read the article. But if you want the summary, this is it: The new police look a whole lot like Saddam’s police. Check out this description of Zobaie’s prison:

Prisoners suffered from skin diseases, Suleiman said. The sewage system was broken. Corrections officers beat the soles of detainees’ feet with rods. Doctors visited only once a month.

Iraq’s central government, which has long neglected Fallujah, offered no funds for the prison. U.S. military officers had visited routinely for months but taken no action. “It’s a typical Iraqi jail,” said Maj. Mike Cava, a military judge advocate. “Their standards are different than ours. They just do things the Iraqi way.”

“They just do things the Iraqi way?” Let’s ignore the implicit racism in Cava’s statement and focus on the more important issue at hand. Why the hell did we invade Iraq in 2003? It wasn’t because of WMD. It wasn’t because of Saddam’s connections to Al Qaeda. The only argument that makes any sense–and can possibly maintain a semblance of moral responsibility–is that we invaded because we don’t approve of the “Iraqi way” of doing things and we wanted to free the Iraqi people from the brutality Saddam’s police state.

And now?

What Zobaie wants is for the U.S. military to hand over full control of Fallujah. He believes Iraq’s current leaders are not strong enough. Asked whether democracy could ever bloom here, he replied: “No democracy in Iraq. Ever.”

“When the Americans leave the city,” he said, “I’ll be tougher with the people.”



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