I just turned fifty, so I thought I'd post a bit of history that interested me (since I am now officially history, myself!). So here goes...
Fifty years ago, a Muslim terrorist organization waged a campaign against the imperialist Western nation that had ruled the country for some hundred years. The campaign had lasted for four years and was insanely brutal. The terrorists used bombs and the killing of innocents as their primary weapon. They claimed they were the true patriots of the country and were against the foreign occupiers. They were largely financed by other countries who had specific global political reasons for their support. The terrorists wanted an Islamist state and the Western "occupiers" wanted peace and stability. Clearly, the people of this country were better off with the foreign occupiers who had brought modern medicine and economic prosperity to the country which was poor beyond Western understanding.
The ruling imperialists fought this war against the terrorists with great vigor. In 1957, they had 400,000 troops in the country waging war against the extremists. The cost in 1957 dollars was $4 million a day. More than 55,000 military and civilian lives had been claimed in the conflict. Much like the present Muslim terrorist conflicts, the primary victims of the Muslim extremists were fellow Muslims. Even in the home country of the colonialists, the bulk of the victims of terrorist attacks were Muslims.
The country was a Third World outpost for the colonial power, rich in oil and strategically placed for military purposes. News reports of the time used the word, "terrorist" to describe the rebels who fought against the colonial power. Bombings and the massacres of civilians who aided the colonialists or refused to fight them were common. In one such incident, all of the male members of a village were slaughtered, for their loyalty to the colonial power. Three hundred boys and men were killed and mutilated. Only one survivor was found, who related how the rebels had gunned down the male civilians with a complete absence of mercy.
Fifty years later, we are seeing this macabre dance played out again and again. When will it stop? In 1957, the imperialist "occupiers" were the French. The Arab terrorists were located in Algeria. Today, Algeria has been free of the colonialists for over forty years. The socialist government has been largely military-ruled for the entire time of their independence. Algeria would have been a modern, secular democracy, had the French won the war against the terrorists. That was not to be, however, and the result has been disastrous. It remains poor, violent and war-torn.
I don't know about you, but not even considering the would-be Millenialist Bomber, Ahmed Ressam's Algerian citizenship, this doesn't make me optimistic for the future of Iraq or any other Middle Eastern country.