During this past weekend’s immigration-ban chaos, the stories of two immigrant refugees, Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Fuad Shareef, struck me. Both of them were from Iraq and both of them were fleeing to the United States in fear of their lives if forced to return to Iraq.
According to the New York Times, “After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Mr. Shareef worked as a translator with American officials, and he received death threats” and Darweesh “worked with the United States military and government for a decade at great personal risk.”
My immediate reaction was: Isn’t Iraq the country that the Pentagon and CIA invaded and occupied for some 11 years? Wasn’t that the land of Operation Iraqi Freedom? Don’t Americans still profusely thank American servicemen for their service in Iraq?
Why would two Iraqi immigrants be fleeing to the United States from a country that the U.S. government had invaded and occupied and in which it had successfully installed a regime into power? Why would those two men be scared of being killed in Iraq?
Yes, I know that ISIS controls parts of Iraq and that it is trying to violently oust the U.S.-installed regime in Baghdad from power. But being killed by ISIS is obviously not what Shareef and Darweesh are scared about, especially given that they could just live within the part of Iraq that is controlled by the Baghdad regime. The reason that Shareef and Darweesh are fleeing Iraq is that they are scared of being killed by people within the part of Iraq that is controlled by the U.S.-installed regime.
That’s what struck me as rather odd.
And then it hit me. The reason that these two men are fleeing with their families to the United States is because in the eyes of many Iraqis, they are traitors to their country. They are the bad guys. They are the Quislings — i.e., citizens of their own country who assisted illegal foreign invaders who wreaked massive death and destruction all across the country and, in fact, unleashed the forces that have thrown Iraq into a deadly and destructive civil war. That’s why there are Iraqis inside the part controlled by the U.S.-installed regime who want to kill them.
Another fascinating aspect to this is the reaction of the U.S. mainstream media and many American interventionists. When Shareef and Darweesh were prohibited from entering the United States as a result of President Trump’s sudden immigration ban, the media and others immediately came to their defense. They didn’t see Shareef and Darweesh as traitors or bad guys, as some Iraqis did. On the contrary, they looked upon these two men as great heroes, ones who had faithfully and courageously served the U.S. military when it invaded and occupied Iraq.
Brandon Friedman, who worked with Darweesh when he served as an infantry lieutenant with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq and who later served in the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and HUD under President Obama, stated, “There are not many Americans who had done as much for this country as he has. He’s put his family on the line to help U.S. soldiers in combat, and it is astonishing to me that this country would suddenly not allow people like that in.”
Friedman, however, has it partly right and partly wrong.
First, what Friedman just doesn’t get is that the U.S. government and America the country are two separate and distinct entities. Like so many other Americans, Friedman can’t comprehend that. In his mind, the U.S. government, especially the military, and America the country are one and the same thing. That’s what causes him to conclude that because Darweesh helped the military, which was invading an occupying Iraq, he was automatically helping America.
Second, the U.S. invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with helping America, or defending our freedoms, or keeping us safe because our freedoms and safety were never at risk. That’s because it was the U.S. government that was the invader, attacker, and aggressor against Iraq, not the other way around. It was the U.S. government that initiated war against Iraq, not the other way around. It was the lives of the Iraqi people that were at risk as a result of the foreign invasion and occupation of their country by a vastly superior foreign army, the army of the U.S. government.
Of course, today there are some Americans, including many U.S. officials, who say, “Iraq was a big mistake. I wish I had never supported President Bush’s decision to invade the country.”
Unfortunately, however, all too many of them still just don’t get it. When they say “mistake,” what they means is the type of mistake that one makes when he, for example, invests in a particular stock that happens to plummet in value. “Buying that stock was a big mistake,” investors sometimes lament. “If only I had known that it was going to drop in value.”
The only reason that interventionists today now consider Iraq to have been a “mistake” is because the invasion and occupation have turned out to be a disaster. They were convinced that once the dust had settled after the initial waves of death and destruction, Iraq was going to end up as a paradise of great peace, prosperity, harmony, democracy, and freedom, all under the tutelage of the Pentagon and the CIA. As we all know, the result has actually been the exact opposite. Perpetual war, crisis, disorder, violence, chaos, authoritarianism, poverty, and no liberty define Iraq.
That’s the only reason interventionists see Iraq as a “mistake.” Things didn’t turn out well for them and their intervention. If things had gone differently, today they would be waxing eloquent about what a great success the intervention had been and how proud they are to have supported it.
What still hasn’t seeped into the minds of such Americans is that the invasion and occupation of Iraq were much more than just a “mistake.” Instead, the invasion and occupation were a horrific crime, a grave sin, and an act of horrible wrongdoing, both legally and morally. They haven’t yet come to the realization that even if the event had turned out to be a “success,” it still would have been a horrific crime, a grave sin, and an act of horrible wrongdoing, both legally and morally.
This phenomenon is reflected by the fact that today there are still Americans who express thanks to U.S. soldiers for serving in Iraq. There are still churches who exhort their congregations to pray for the troops who are still “defending our freedoms” in Iraq.
Such people, including church ministers, continue living the life of the lie. They just cannot bring themselves to see that they are thanking the troops for killing people as part of an illegal and immoral invasion of a country that never attacked the United States — an invasion that violated the principles against wars of aggression set forth at Nuremberg, the principles of the UN Charter, to which the United States is a signatory, and the principles of the U.S. Constitution, which requires a congressional declaration of war before U.S. troops can legally wage war against another country.
That is precisely why Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Fuad Shareef are fleeing Iraq. Their lives are in danger because there are Iraqis who want to kill them. And the reason they want to kill them is because they turned against their country by helping (for money) a much more powerful foreign invader to illegally invade and conquer their country.
Imagine if China suddenly invaded the United States and that a certain contingent of Americans helped Chinese troops to conquer the United States. Would it be difficult to understand why some Americans, who remained loyal to their country, would be angry over the American Quislings who decided to help the Chinese troops?
Why is it that so many Americans still cannot grasp this fundamental principle? It’s because for them the U.S. national-security establishment — i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA — is their god — their everything and because they subscribe to the Germanic concept of patriotism, one that holds to the dictum, “Support the troops, right or wrong, especially during time of war.”
In their minds, as soon as President Bush announced that he was rejecting the massive worldwide protests against invading Iraq and that he was ordering the invasion, it became the immediate duty of loyal Americans to set aside any objections they might have to waging an illegal and immoral war of aggression against a country that had not attacked the United States and immediately rally to support of the president, the Pentagon, the CIA, and their troops.
It was that mindset that continued to hold sway throughout the 11 years of the occupation. It is that mindset that holds sway today, as U.S. troops continue killing people in Iraq to preserve the U.S.-installed regime in power. It is that mindset that comes to views as heroes two Iraqi men who betrayed their country by becoming Quislings, ultimately causing them to flee the very country the U.S. government successfully invaded and occupied for 11 years as part of its Operation Iraqi Freedom.