What Iraqis Want From Obama
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And finally we have the man who many in the U.S. and the world at large wanted to see replacing George W. Bush.
On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama will be officially inaugurated as U.S President. Bush as a person and a picture will no longer be in the Oval Office but his deeds and legacy will fill the room's air, shelves and even the drawers of Obama's desk.
And certainly, wherever Obama turns in the White House the specter of Iraq and the untold suffering of its people and the heavy price in blood and resources the U.S. has had to pay will be haunting him.
Obama has promised to end the devastating and reckless war Bush had started in Iraq. But one thing he will have to remember: starting a war is always easy; ending it is the most difficult thing to do.
I do not think any Iraqi would feel sorry for Bush, the man who ruined their country, turned millions of its people into refugees, turned hundreds thousands of its children into orphans and divided the country into ethnic and sectarian lines with wounds which some say are impossible to heal.
If Obama thinks that he is not responsible for addressing the calamities Bush brought on the Iraqi people, he is wrong. Morally and ethically, his administration is responsible for the orphans, the refugees, the chaos and insecurity which Bush will bequeath him.
Iraqis hope that instead of bombs, warplanes, heavy artillery, daily raids and invasions, killings and destroying of houses, villages and cities, Obama will try to rebuild.
Even if the troops are withdrawn, and that is the wish of many in the country, Iraqis hope Obama will commit his administration to correcting Bush's blunders. Instead of killing fathers and turning their children into orphans, Iraqis hope Obama will build factories, bridges, roads, schools and hospitals to put unemployed Iraqi parents to work.
Iraqis hope Obama will commit resources that will take care of the army of Iraqi orphans, send in relief and aid to the impoverished Iraqis instead of shipping sophisticated warplanes and helicopter gunships with the ability to drop precision bombs weighing hundreds of kilograms of explosives.
Iraqis would like to see Obama exerting real pressure on the government and Iraqi political and ethnic factions for a real compromise and not coddle them as Bush has been doing so that they would sign a hugely unpopular security agreement.
Iraqis hope Obama will work with all Iraqis groups and stand at the same distance from all of them and favor only those who are loyal to their own country and support them to lead.
Iraqis hope Obama will extend a real helping hand to the millions of Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries and elsewhere, first by helping them making ends meet and, second, encouraging them and supporting them to return to a safe Iraq.
Iraqis' wish list is long and they do not expect Obama to have it all fulfilled. Their few expectations emanate from the same principles of democracy and human rights that helped an African American win the presidential elections in the U.S.A., the world's mightiest power.