David “What have you done to win Iraqi hearts and minds today?” Petraeus’s Legacy of Post-Surge “Success”
General David Petraeus continues to receive plaudits for the “successful surge” in Iraq—based upon his credo, “What have you done to win Iraqi hearts and minds today?”—as he transitions to becoming the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Asia News, in this report, provides more evidence of how ephemeral, if not meaningless, the so-called “success” of that surge, contingent on winning Iraqi Muslim “hearts and minds,” actually was. Indeed it is worth reflecting whether the entire US intervention in Iraq, now well into its eighth year, beyond toppling a murderous despot like Saddam Hussein (which was accomplished within months), has achieved anything substantive, or permanent that will benefit US or Western interests, as opposed to those of the larger Arab and non-Arab Muslim “umma.”
Despite great expense of British blood and treasure during more than a decade of military occupation, and even after the Assyrian massacres (by Arab and Kurdish Muslims) of 1933-34, shortly after Britain’s withdrawal, the British Arabist S.A. Morrison wrote 76 years ago (in “Religious Liberty in Iraq”, Moslem World, 1935, p. 128):
Iraq is moving steadily forward towards the modern conception of the State, with a single judicial and administrative system, unaffected by considerations of religion or nationality. The Millet system [i.e., dhimmitude—not reflected by this euphemism] still survives, but its scope is definitely limited. Even the Assyrian tragedy of 1933 does not shake our faith in the essential progress that has been made. The Government is endeavoring to carry out faithfully the undertakings it has given, even when these run directly counter to the long—cherished provisions of the Shari’a Law. But it is not easy; it cannot be easy in the very nature of the case, for the common people quickly to adjust their minds to the new legal situation, and to eradicate from their outlook the results covering many centuries of a system which implies the superiority of Islam over the non—Moslem minority groups. The legal guarantees of liberty and equality represent the goal towards which the country is moving, rather than the expression of the present thoughts and wishes of the population. The movement, however, is in the right direction, and it may yet prove possible for Islam to disentangle religious faith from political status and privilege.
The Asia News report, extracted below, on the continuing plight of Iraq’s indigenous, pre-Islamic Christians makes plain how nothing has changed almost eight decades later—including the delusive Western mindset epitomized by Petraeus and his willfully blind champions:
The year 2010 was the worst year to date for the Christian community in Iraq, it has been revealed by the organization for human rights in Iraq, Hammurabi. Many Christians were forced to leave the country in fear of killings and violence of all kinds. The death toll among Christians over the past seven years, according to Hammurabi exceeds 822 people. 629 of them were murdered for being part of the Christian minority. …Among the Christian victims of 2010 there are 33 children, 25 elderly and 14 religious. In 2010 Hammurabi recorded 92 cases of Christians killed and 47 wounded, 68 in Baghdad, 23 in Mosul and one in Erbil.
The director of Hammurabi, named after the Code of Hammurabi, one of the oldest known collections of laws in human history, William Warda, said that constant monitoring and documentation show that all the Christian Churches in Iraq – Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syrians, Armenians – have suffered heavy losses in the number of their faithful, all over the country. The decline is particularly strong in Baghdad and Mosul, where Christians are concentrated in greater numbers. Warda said that in one year there were more than 90 Christians killed and 280 wounded, and two churches have been the target of attacks in Baghdad.