While watching Prime Minister Iyad Allawi this morning, I couldn't help but feel proud. Less for his exact words, although his "thank you" was huge, but more for the hope he portrayed. I couldn't help but drift back in my mind to the buildup to the war. When human shields were flying to Iraq (many from the exceedingly liberal area I live). When pretty much no one I encountered thought it was a good idea. When the news media was clearly slanting against the war. I thought about the disagreement after disagreement I had with people. You see, I didn't care why we were going to war. People were incredulous with me. Time after time I told them, I didn't care if they found absolutely zero WMD. My stance was "those people" deserved the hope that we enjoy. They deserved a chance to make their own lives. They deserved to not be brutalized just for speaking out against their government. The very thing we so take for granted, that people can say anything about our leaders. Up to making a direct threat.
Every time I watched the old stock video out of Iraq, and saw not one smile. Only despair. I scoured everything I could about Iraq. Every voice I could find. Every once in a while I would read reports from people who had made it out of the Kurdish area. They were waiting for us. Please come.
You see, I don't think our government does everything right. But I figured even if we royally screwed it up, it would be at least 50% better than what they had. Anything was better than what they had.
In the beginning I read the Iraqi blogs, and was happy. You could almost hear the excitement in their words. Then as the violence started getting worse and things started seeming less hopeful. I had to search harder for good news. Anything what would make me think it was worth it. It wasn't coming as fast as I would have liked it to. Then as American after American was beheaded. I watched each and every beheading video. Except the last two. I might still, but after the group of men from Nepal were beheaded and slaughtered (who didn't even have troups in the region) my skin became much too thin. The joy they took making it a slow death was too much. Don't misunderstand me. Each one had enraged me, and affected me deeply. I couldn't logically wrap my mind around any of them. I'd seen more pictures of the bombings, and the assignations than probably was healthy. I had also seen tons footage of the brutality the Iraqi's had to endure. I wasn't obsessed, as it may sound. I just didn't want to hide from the horrible realities.
A month or two ago I turned fairly sour. My stance was becoming more and more "screw them". Things like the comments of the Iraqi soccer team at the Olympics were exceedingly unhelpful for my state of mind. I would still find tidbits of hope, but it was becoming too little too late for me. I was decidedly feeling like I was wrong. They were just a brutal people. That is just their culture.
Frankly, it sucked. I felt that the Iraqi people were a smart educated people, who of all of the countries we might have toppled, they had the best chance of being successful. I wanted them to succeed. After all, who wouldn't want to be the creator of their own destiny. I just didn't see it happening. Maybe they had been repressed for too long, and they would never figure out how to be a democratic people.
So this brings me back to Mr. Allawi. I don't all of sudden think things are great. I know they aren't. His speech made him seem like a leader. Baby step by baby step maybe they are figuring it out. I was proud of him.
Mr. Allowi gave me something akin to that burst of energy that you get when you are running a marathon, you've hit the wall and think you just can't take it anymore. It occurs to me that Iraq and America need hope from each other. Iraq needs hope from America that we will stay and help them just a while longer until they can completely stand on their own. America needs hope from Iraq that our efforts are worth it. That our sacrifice is really what they wanted and couldn't quite pull off on their own.