Apology for U.S.-Iraqi dealings would say a lot

In response to the numerous accounts by U.S. troops in Iraq regarding the reconstruction work, I thank them for remaining positive about the situation. However, their positivism has blinded them to the hidden issue of justice in Iraq.

As is widely known, the United States supported Saddam Hussein during some of his most murderous years by providing him funding and arms – including weapons of mass destruction technology. This active support in the face of Saddam’s obvious genocidal tendencies served as nothing less than expressed approval and encouragement by the U.S. government for Saddam’s actions. In short, the United States was complicit in Saddam’s brutality. For the United States to thereby accuse Saddam of crimes against humanity 15 years later is hypocritical. Therefore, for the sake of justice, it is of the utmost importance that Saddam and his government, as well as certain officials in past U.S. administrations, account for their actions during that sad time in Iraqi history.

Many Americans I speak with seem to disregard the relevance of U.S. involvement in Iraq with statements such as, “That was in the past … so what?” The reality is, the past does matter. Sept. 11, 2001, is in the past, yet the U.S. military is in Afghanistan attempting to bring the perpetrators to justice. Domestically, many people are convicted now of murders they committed years ago. So to say U.S. involvement in Iraq is irrelevant because it was in the past is utterly ridiculous – injustice does not fade with time.

Since most people in this world only account for their successes, Americans have been too busy patting themselves on their backs and demanding thanks from the world for “liberating” Iraq to understand they have not done the world a favor; rather, they have repaid part of a debt they owe the Iraqi people.

Saddam and his accomplices have been captured and will be tried. For this I am thankful. I am not such a fool as to believe the United States will one day try its own officials who were Saddam’s former allies, but I do believe the Iraqi people would be pleased to at least hear the U.S. government offer a formal apology.

Having lived almost my entire life in the Middle East, I can say with confidence that the mighty United States making an unforced apology in good faith would go further in terms of mending relations with the region and giving the Iraqi people justice than any forced message of democracy.

Shez Cassim is a political science major
second year