Too many Americans continue to view Iraq through the context of American politics. The Iraq War was a polarizing affair, and became more so with time both as casualties mounted and some Democrats decided to transform the war into a political football—hence then-Senator John Kerry’s famous flip-flop. While al-Qaeda-affiliated groups—reinforced by their allies in the Syrian opposition—continue to set off car bombs in Baghdad, Iraqis remain resilient and there remains slow progress in the country.
To ignore Iraq’s progress, to wish that Saddam Hussein had remained to once again use chemical weapons the way Bashar al-Assad’s regime has apparently done, and to slap away Iraq’s outstretched hand is unfair to Iraqis and counterproductive to long-term American economic and national interests.
Iraq today is better off than Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and perhaps even Lebanon. During my trips to Iraq over the past year, I published a few dispatches (here, here, here, here, and here, for example). I also noted the second-order impact from the revival of the southern Iraqi marshes. Now, Nature Iraq is about to go farther with a “Tigris River Flotilla” to be launched later this week from Hasankeyf, an ancient town in Turkish Kurdistan which Turkish authorities seek to destroy when they build the Ilisu Dam, and which will continue down the length of the Tigris, through Mosul—perhaps the most dangerous city in Iraq—and then south into the marshes.
The flotilla will post regular updates and tweets (@tigrisflotilla), and certainly seems worth watching. Alas, it seems flotillas in the Middle East only gain press coverage when they seek to supply terrorists, not showcase progress and unity.