While reading the voluminous comments to a NYT article on the Iraqi election I noticed that many of our citizens continue to spew vitriol and hatred toward President Bush, even though he has passed from the world stage. One wonders if they will carry such grudges with them for the rest of their life. As for myself, I have mostly forgiven or forgotten Bill Clinton's many transgressions. At least with Slick Willie, unlike Tricky Dick, there was the relief and satisfaction of an impeachment.
Unfortunately, the unrepentant Bush-haters associate Iraq with their grievances, and must by their arguments inflict collateral damage on the poor, long-suffering Iraqi populace. Iraq and Iraqis are associated with their list of Bush "crimes", and must receive some of the blame. The situation is somewhat similar to the actions of the anti-Viet Nam war crowd in the sixties and seventies. In their righteous fury over the war they released their anger on the nearest object available, spewing profanity and saliva in greeting to hapless, battle-scarred nineteen-year-old Viet Nam veterans as they debarked back home from the jungle. Although I did not fight in that war, I will carry an unforgiven and unforgotten grudge against those righteous ones for the rest of my life. Fortunately, the returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have not been subjected to similar offenses.
The fact that Iraqi success with democracy would vindicate (even if only in a small way) Bush causes his detractors to denigrate any signs of Iraqi progress. Personally, I believe that a successful, democratic Iraq would vindicate Bush in a big way. From my experience living in Iraq and the considerable study I have undertaken in the years since then, I believe that the Iraqis will be successful. The benefits of unity that strain to hold the many factions together in one country are greater than the centrifugal forces of dissolution. The constant and common interaction of the Iraqis with the numerous Iranian pilgrims has thoroughly indoctrinated them on the perils of rule by the mullahs.
Finally, and most importantly, I learned through my own observation that the Iraqis are intelligent, religious and hard-working, qualities that can take them a long way in overcoming their present and past difficulties. I heard an Iraqi sheik say that his people had been traumatized by Saddam for thirty years, and we Americans should make allowances for that. Many of their current problems are manifestations of that trauma.
Their elections and political interactions may not meet our elevated standards, but they are at least as good or better than the elections we conducted in Chicago in the 1930's. And if you still insist on hating Bush, that is your right to continue to waste your time in that manner. Just don't blame the Iraqis for what Bush has done.