Sunday, September 07, 2003

Rummy's Arrogance and Racism

From Juan Cole:

US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld blamed the Iraqis for their own lack of security, since they are not doing enough to tell the US forces in the country who the bombers are. Does anybody but me find this sort of rhetoric disgraceful? First of all, it lumps all Iraqis together. Do people in Najaf even know anybody in Tikrit, where the recent bombing was probably planned? How could they have tipped the US off about something a small group of Sunni Arabs in another town were planning? Since the US dissolved the Iraqi army, moreover, how exactly could Iraqis track such terrorists? With the PTA? It is the US that has 140,000 troops in the country and is supposed to be in control of places like Tikrit, and which has special forces and CIA field officers on the ground. Why isn't it the responsibility of the US to stop bombings and provide security? Finally, there is an ugly undertone of racism in Rumsfeld's pronouncements on Iraq. Earlier in the summer he compared the violence in Iraq to the murder rate in Washington, DC, a majority African-American city into three quarters of which wealthy people like Rumsfeld do not venture. He also compared it implicitly to Benton Harbor, a badly bifurcated city in Michigan that saw race riots this summer over the continued lack of opportunites for African-Americans. Does Rumsfeld think that Iraqis are analogous to African-Americans, only under better control? That is how he talks. And if you applied this recent comment to any minority group in the US ("they wouldn't have such a big crime problem if they would out their own criminal elements to the police") it would be patently offensive. It is with regard to Iraq, too.