The history of Mosul, and the future
A couple weeks ago I assigned a soldier to write a story on the history of Mosul. This particular soldier is one of the best researchers I’ve ever met. You tell her to write a story about toilet lids, and she’ll come back with a feature discussing the bottom strength of each brand. She’s a good journalist and is building herself a nice portfolio. Anyway, she dug up more facts about this city and country than I knew even existed. As I read this story, everything became perfectly clear to me: I know why Iraqis are struggling with everything right now. They have never, and I mean, never, had freedom.
They’re like caged animals released into the wild after a lifetime of containment; they don’t know how to react after being behind a wall their whole life.
Actually Iraqis were once behind a wall in Mosul back in the old days. This city’s history can be found in the world’s most popular book – the Bible. The area was built by Nimrod and Jonah was eaten by a whale here and brought people to God all at the same time. Starting in 850 B.C., the people in this region began to be ruled by tyrants. The first was the Assyrian empire. Then in 612 B.C., the Babylonian army pillaged and burned the city and took over. The shift of power in the region went on for centuries until in 1500, the Ottoman Empire expanded its tentacles to Mosul. Then after WWI, Great Britain took control of the region. Hey, the Brits and Iraqis have one thing in common: tea.
Iraq began to develop into a power in the Middle East, although much of which was due to Great Britain’s guidance. They held 10 general elections from 1925-58 and actually joined the United Nations.
All the momentum they had gained came crashing down when a fellow named Saddam Hussein took over. And I believe you know the rest of the story.
I can’t even imagine what it’s like to grow up in a country that the history books were filled with: “In 600 B.C., you were ruled by so and so. And in 1900, the Ottoman Empire, who ruled you, was defeated. And in 1979, a really mean guy, who was so horrible that he’d kill people just because they questioned him or spoke Kurdish, became the dictator.”
Seriously, we grew up on the stories of brave individuals facing fear and standing up for what’s right, and achieving victory for their cause even in death. George Washington. Abraham Lincoln. Martin Luther King Jr. The Iraqis read about people being beheaded for standing up.
These people have a history, but it’s filled with hopeless stories of loss. But I really think that may change. I’ve seen some pretty good Iraqi leaders really take charge and push for their country’s freedom. Many have died in the process, but the torch is carried on by those who strive for a better future.
One day, the Iraqi history books will tell stories of the World’s greatest Army coming to town and freeing them, and then rebuilding them, and drinking tea with them even though the Americans preferred coffee. With all my heart, I know that one day the history books will indeed talk of Iraq as a free nation… I just know it.