Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The History of Iraq

NYRB: It's a quagmire. 1920:
...There's no getting out of the conclusion that we have made an immense failure here. The system must have been far more at fault than anything that I or anyone else suspected. It will have to be fundamentally changed and what that may mean exactly I don't know.
No one knows exactly what they do want, least of all themselves, except that they don't want us.
[The politician] Saiyid Talib...is the ablest man in the country. He is also, it must be remembered, entirely unscrupulous, but his interests and ours are the same....
...We are largely suffering from circumstances over which we couldn't have had any control. The wild drive of discontented nationalism...and of discontented Islam...might have proved too much for us however far-seeing we had been; but that doesn't excuse us for having been blind.
[In talking to an Arab nationalist leader] I said complete independence was what we ultimately wished to give. "My lady" he answered—we were speaking Arabic —"complete independence is never given; it is always taken."
Get out now. Jail the perpetrators.

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