Why Iraq Needs a Court of Truth and Reconciliation Now

During the years that Hussein led Iraq, it is fair to say that a kind of cultural brainwashing took place. This changed the way the Iraqi people saw themselves, and the way they saw the rest of the world. It turned Iraqis into people who feared one another and who were scared that whatever they said might be used against them. It created two or three generations of individuals who didn’t know a “normal” life, individuals who are warped.

During the 1990s, there were actually systematic attempts to influence Iraq’s young people, to change their values through institutions like Youth TV, a channel rife with regime propaganda. And the number of Iraqis who speak classical Arabic has also decreased while a new class of academics emerged – academics, only in name, who got their qualifications because of who they knew, not what they knew.

Iraq, after 2003, should have tried to put an end to this kind of cultural vandalism. Because it has had an ongoing effect. Look closely at the reasons behind the tidal wave of sectarian violence that swept the country after 2003 and we find much of these revolve around unresolved issues such as: “the oppressors didn’t ever do penance”. The victims didn’t ever get justice or even an opportunity to air their feelings publicly, so they longed for revenge and became part of the war games.

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