Friends in need
By Basit GharibSLEMANI
Why the Americans have a hard time keeping friends, but have no trouble making enemies.
The United States builds its relations according to its own political and economic interests, easily abandoning friends if its interests are endangered. This statement will come as no surprise to observers of American foreign policy. In the 1950s and 1960s, the US backed southern Vietnam by launching a war against northern Vietnam. The history of that war is well known. When American interests were endangered and anti-war pressures increased inside America, Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon’s National Security Advisor, secretly and without consulting with the government of southern Vietnam, met with Doc To, North Vietnam’s envoy, to sign a cease-fire agreement. When the north Vietnamese forces defeated the forces of south Vietnam, and occupied the south’s capital “Saygon” on 30 April 1975, the American forces immediately withdrew, abandoning tens of thousands of employees and supporters to be slaughtered by north Vietnamese forces. Many similar cases can be found throughout American history. That’s why it’s hard for Americans to keep friends, and all too easy for them to make enemies. When Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled in the US-led invasion of Iraq, many people in the country welcomed the Americans as liberators and allies. But the welcome party was short-lived. Today, this course has been reversed, and except for the Kurdistan Region, in many places across Iraq, the American forces have more enemies than friends. In April 2003, backed by the Americans themselves, we entered the city of Kirkuk in order to reopen the city’s TV channel. We took with us all the requirements of the channel. We didn’t even take a penny from the Americans. We did that all on our own, despite the fact that the Americans were generously pouring money out at the time. Relaunching the channel at that sensitive period was in the best interest of the Americans. They needed it to communicate directly with the people. During a two-month period, we broadcasted thousands of the American forces’ statements, press conferences and television interviews by the American commanders from Colonel William Mayville, who was heading the reconstruction efforts in the city, to civil authorities, and those who were in charge of the city’s security and others. Yet, we were always the target of the American forces’ tantrums. They constantly attacked us, sometimes arresting our pershmarga guards and confiscating their weapons, which were given to them with the full knowledge of the Americans. In one case, they even used tanks and helicopters. Although we took our complaints to Colonel Mayville, they went on with their violations until they forced us to pack up and leave for Slemani. The Americans’ whimsical behavior came as a surprise to us. We learned eventually that despite all the cooperation they received from us, there were Baathist elements within the staff at the channel, and they had been stirring trouble, sabotaging our relations with the Americans. Their efforts had prevailed; the Americans believed them, instead of listening to us. That’s why it’s easy for the Americans to make enemies and hard for them to make friends. Remarkably, our committed, stateless and oppressed people continue to view the Americans as liberators and allies. We hope that the Americans take this into consideration and put an end to their erratic, interest-oriented behavior, in order to keep our friendship and “not throw us to the wolves,” as the old Kurdish saying goes.
The writer is editor of KHAK magazine.