They’re building a wall. Another one.
Just when you thought the Americans couldn’t do more to mess up the situation in Iraq, the BBC is reporting that a wall is being constructed between two Baghdad districts, one Sunni, the other Shia. Or rather, they’re reporting about protests against said wall. A small part of me groaned when I read the news story; haven’t we seen enough walls to realise they simply don’t work?
Reading the news article, I’m aware that I’ve heard most of the arguments before. ‘It’ll stop the movement of people we don’t like and their weapons’, say the Americans. ‘It’ll make more terrorists’, say the Iraqi’s. After years of supporting the Palestinian cause, I can’t help but feel I agree with the Iraqis: this kind of separation of communities can only lead to more bloodshed, greater resentment of the occupying forces, and a more polarised society, as people seek to move onto the side with most of their friends on it.
Indeed, noting that the residents of both communities have joined forces to protest the wall, it does seem the American’s have managed to give a cause for unity, even though this was clearly not their aim. That both sides can recognise common cause at all perhaps informs us that the American assessment of the situation was wrong in the first place. But it is particularly alarming that, where once worries were expressed that balkanization would occur, the Americans are opting for the Israeli approach of divisions so small as to be economically unsustainable; I suppose it puts lie to the statements of rebuilding Iraq into a viable country.
I’d love to believe that the Americans have got it all wrong; that this is some kind of stupid mistake. But they know the success that the wall has had in Palestine, and they know what success it may have again. It just seems so clear that, through actions like these, America is creating self-fulfilling prophecies of a nation hell-bent on destroying itself, and thus creating the back-drop for a permanent presence in the country, as heralded by its building of the world’s largest embassy in Baghdad, and new, more permanent military bases across the country.
Once more a wall is being built to emphasise divisions. Once more, those of conscience and those who suffer must unite and say, loudly and clearly,
“no more walls
No more refugees
No more keeping people
Upon their knees.
And then the history books
Will someday recall
Before apartheid was ended
They were building a wall”
(From David Rovics song, “They’re building a Wall”, download here)