"Is Iraq worth the American sacrifice?"

No, I am neither that heartless nor that brainless to pose such a tactless question… provokingly insulting to most Iraqis, one would think. But that was CNN’s question to its American audience!

Saturday morning, on the eve of the Iraqi elections, that was the question-du-jour that I woke up to, courtesy of that great medium that depicts itself as “the most trusted name in news.” At first I was flabbergasted reading the question that appeared on the screen, and then I became embarrassed at the thought of such solicitation for e-mail response. Is the media taking us for a nation of thoughtless, self-centered people? And what’s worse… are we? Are we so insensitive that we fail to see the extreme impudence, the gall of such question?

American sacrifice you say, CNN? Sacrifice in lives… sacrifice in billions of dollars that could see much better use you say, CNN? Please! We, and that unfortunately applies to all Americans… not just Bush’s neocons, have created this mess in Iraq ; a mess that is costing countless billions to the economy of both nations… countless pain and sorrow; and many, many lives. A mess of our creation that affects the people of Iraq with extreme and disproportionate suffering, and we dare ask if it’s worth “our” sacrifice? Are we as egocentric and heartless as to call the mess of our creation “our sacrifice”?

Each American life lost in Iraq has been escorted by the loss of fifty, perhaps more, Iraqi lives. Each American dollar spent on the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been accompanied by an even greater loss to the economic infrastructure of a nation just one-twelfth our population. So if we are to call things by their proper names, we should be talking about Americans’ mess and Iraqis’ sacrifice, and not the other way around as implied by CNN’s question… a question that continued to be asked on Sunday, as the elections were being reported.

Whether an infant democracy emerges from this election, or the existing chaotic conditions continue growing as a prelude to a civil war, America has paid, is paying, and will continue to pay the price for assuming empire-airs, for acting unilaterally and in arrogant ways. It is not a sacrifice that Americans are paying willingly out of idealism to propagate freedom and democracy, but a punitive tax forced by the Bush Administration on the American people. It’s not a sacrifice we are making, but a tax we are paying… or, rather, a tax which our progeny will be paying for years to come.

It will be for Iraqis to determine whether their tremendous sacrifice, one resulting from America ’s intervention in their affairs, made this holocaustic experience a high but irremediable price to pay. It will be up to Iraqis to tell us at a later date, not the PR folks at the White House now, whether the sum total defining their future in terms of peace and economic prosperity exculpates, even if partially, America’s aggressive actions.

All Iraqis! And therein lays the key to even the mildest form of success. For the conflict is much more complex than certifying a Kurdish nation, or switching the balance of power from Sunni to Shiite. There is very little that the United States can do to redeem itself from all strategic and operational blunders committed… its only hope to save face now is in the hands of the three peoples in Iraq; in their finding peaceful ways of accommodating both their aspirations and their differences.

Whatever Iraqis voiced in this election by voting, or declining to vote, the entire world hopes for an end to conflict and foreign occupation; the prospect of true sovereignty; and the prosperity deserved by a nation with vast natural resources and a resourceful people to tap that wealth.

“Is Iraq worth the American sacrifice?” was a tactless, “ugly American” question for CNN to ask. An appropriate question, not just to America but to the world, might have been, “Haven’t Iraqis suffered enough?” But somehow, we just don’t seem to get it, or care to.

As for the elections… let’s wish Iraqis well, and hope that their sacrifice has not been in vain.