We have all been anxious about the election results and at times I was worried that Obama would not pull it out. Prior to the election it seemed that the majority of Iraqi’s that I spoke to wanted Obama to win. But they were mainly people with disabilities. I learned that Obama had won as I was walking out of the house. At first I was not convinced and I said, “I’ll believe it when McCain concedes.” But then the country director said there was no doubt. As I entered the MC office the guards and drivers had the TV on the election result. They were clapping and congratulating me on Obama’s win. I raised my right arm in the air and yelled “Woooo hooo! Obama!” and they all started clapping. The majority of our national staff in Suli are Kurdish Iraqis, most of them are fairly well educated and they speak Kurdish, Arabic and English. The drivers and guards mainly speak Kurdish, very little English and only some speak Arabic. My roommate says that her staff seemed indifferent, but happy for Americans. When I asked them about it they wouldn’t say whether they were glad or indifferent, but the general consensus was that change is good. And that is what they said, “Change is good.” I think they were happy because all of the expats were happy and the Americans in particular. Well except one. We have a visiting consultant for South Carolina and when Tash came in all happy and asked him about it he avoided the question. But the rest of us were happy.
Later that day I received an e-mail from one of my national staff in the South, asking me how I felt about the election. I told him I was happy and asked him who he had been rooting for, “McCain,” he typed. When I asked him why he said that he was afraid under Obama that the Americans would pull out of Iraq, which the majority of Iraqis believe will result in increased violence and possible civil war. It was interesting though, we had visitors from HQ one of them a woman who works in D.C. in government relations asked them what message they wanted her to take back to Washington. Every single person in the room 40 of them spoke, most of them complained about the American troops and the havoc they had wrecked. But when the regional director got up and asked, “How many of you want American to leave Iraq? Raise your hand,” he stuck his hand in the air and slowly looked around the room. There was an uncomfortable silence for several minutes, but not one single hand went up.
Later when I was talking with the participants about the incident, I told them they were a bunch of whiners. That they had the opportunity to get a message to the American government and they wasted it whining and telling personal stories. “Why?” they asked. “What would you have said?” “I would have said tell your lawmakers that there are more than 2 million PWDs in Iraq and we need programs and money that is directed to help us.”
They looked at me astounded. I told them that when you have an opportunity to speak to someone who can make a difference you should waste your time whining about your “sufferings” as they like to refer to them. You have a limited amount of time, you have to tell them how they can help you, concisely. Well there’s a problem, you ask an Iraqi his name he gives you his life story and a concise Iraqi is an oxymoron. But I also told them if you want to interact with other cultures it’s a compromise.
So I think the South was hoping for McCain, at least the peace loving people, who knows what the Iraqi government was hoping for, they are sitting on 79 billion dollars of oil reserves and still getting a huge chuck of money from American tax dollars. You ask why are we supporting such a rich country, because the Iraqi government can’t implement. They argue over the smallest details like where to put a new school. They are in a quagmire bogged down inefficient and ineffective. So the good news is that if and when democracy takes root they already have the bureaucracy down. The Kurds I think have a wait and see attitude. They have dealt with a lot, but the Kurdish area is fairly secure apart from areas that are in dispute e.g. whether or not they belong to the Kurdish Regional Government, or the Iraqi Government. So if the South goes to hell in a handbasket they will have another border to defend and most likely Internally Displaced People (IDPs).
I know that voting for Obama might be putting myself out of a job, but as an American it was my responsiblity.