Friday, January 05, 2007

Tale of Three Countries

Okay, I’m no expert on what I’m about to write, but recent world events, movie viewing, internet surfing and distant echoes of past education have brought to my mind what I perceive as a clearer understanding of the Iraq situation. I could be wrong.
I’ll start with the movie. If you haven’t seen “Hotel Rwanda” go, get it NOW. The story takes place amidst the 100-day massacre of close to a million “Tootsies” by rival “Hutus”. The source of their difference was not race, belief, religion etc., but nose size and length. When Rwanda was colonized by Belgium, the Belgian colonists decided that Tootsies, in general, had longer, more slender noses. This was not a scientific, evolutionary or factual observation, it was just made up.
When the Belgians left, the Tootsies, a minority, were in charge of the country. They gave preference to people with longer, more slender noses. The Tootsies got more government funding, better jobs, etc. They even dispatched with troublesome nose inspections by creating identity cards with “Hutu” or “Tootsie” stamped in big letters across them.
Naturally, the mistreated majority revolted, and the result was an attempted genocide during which one tenth of the Rwandan people were massacred.

Now to Iraq. Almost everyone in Iraq is Muslim. There are some artificial divisions that are causing the commotion. Roughly 60% of the people are Shi’aa or Shia Arabs. Roughly 20% are Sunni Arabs and roughly 15% are Sunni Kurds. So the Sunni are the minority. During the rule of Saddam Hussein, himself a Sunni, the Sunnis were favoured by government, given better jobs etc.
The U.S. stepped in and gave Iraq a “democratic” government that is Shia controlled and actually limits the number of attainable seats for Sunnis.
What is the main difference between the Shia and the Sunni Muslim? This goes back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad. After he died, a new leader, Abu Bakr, his close friend and advisor, was elected as the leader of the Muslim people. Sunni support this election but the Shia believe that the new leader should have been a member of Muhammad’s family, his cousin/brother-in-law, Ali. “Shia” is actually a shortened form of “Shia-t-Ali” or the party of Ali. So throughout history Shia and Sunni Muslims have recognized different lines of leaders.
I find it extremely odd that the U.S. recognizes the group that supports “Imams” or leaders, who they believe are sinless and whose authority comes directly from God. The Sunni contend that leadership of the community is not a birthright, but a trust which is earned and may be given or taken by the people. This is virtually identical to the position the founding fathers of America held that caused them to spurn the king of England, (whose authority was believed to be directly from God), and elect their own leaders.
It is also odd that I have read several times that all Iraqis say that they are Iraqi. Not Sunni-Iraqi or Shia-Iraqi. They fought side by side against Iran, they represented their country together in the Olympics and they share all the fundamental Islamic beliefs.

Now a third and final country. It’s called Lilliput. Within Lilliput there existed a metropolis called Mildendo. For above 70 moons past there have been two struggling parties in this empire: the Tramecksan and the Slamecksan. These parties won’t eat, drink or talk with one another. What is the factor that causes their division? The Tramecksan wear high heeled shoes while the Slamecksan prefer low heeled footwear.
The very existence of the city of Mildendo is threatened by invasion from the island of Blefuscu. On Blefuscu there has raged a,

“most obstinate War for six and thirty Moons past.”

The war in Blefuscu is between the Big-Endian Exiles and the Blefuscuan traditionalists who honour their age-old traditions. What traditios are they fighting over? The Big-Endians break their eggs at the big end in brash opposition to the Blefuscuan tradition of breaking their eggs at the small end.

“It is computed, that eleven thousand Persons have,
at several times, suffered Death, rather than submit
to break their Eggs at the smaller End.”
If you haven’t spotted it, this third country is a fictional one derived from the fertile mind of Jonathan Swift and shared with the world in his book “Gulliver’s Travels”. Though the country of Lilliput and its various conflicts were satirical fabrications, I have been recently wondering if these wars are any less believable than those in Iraq and Rwanda. It’s a close call.

1 comment:

Dave said...

I originally wrote this for the Global Issues Chatterbox, a little newsletter written by my buddy, Scott.

P.S. If any publication actually DOES want to steal something from my blog I have one thing to say to you: Spell my name right.