Iraq: Rape without a morning-after pill

For at least two years I’ve been of one mind: there is no such thing as a middle ground in how the US may approach its exit from Iraq. And that, in a nutshell, is my answer to James A. Baker III and his bipartisan, or “we’re all in this together,” Iraq Study Group. Mr. Baker’s adherence to the doctrine of the best path being the middle of the road probably started when he switched alliance, turning from Democrat to Republican, trying to get Bush Senior elected to the Senate back in 1970 – unsuccessfully, one might add.

For all his political acumen and impressive résumé, Baker is more a forceful intimidator (a la Dick Cheney) than a diplomat, or a capable facilitator in crisis management. His number of successes is well tempered by just as many resounding defeats. I recall what a friend, a Spanish attorney then advising the Polisario Front in its struggle for independence from Morocco, told me three years ago. “Baker,” he said, “is an atypical diplomatic empty suit, hoping to hide his lack of ideas behind an overbearing presence and piercing, domineering looks.” True enough; after almost seven years (1997-2004) as UN’s special envoy to Western Sahara, the discord there remains intact at the brim.

In our minds, however, it’s not failures such as the conflict between Saharuis and Moroccans that we will remember, but successes such as getting the US Supreme Court involved in the 2000 presidential election – which evolved in George W. Bush becoming the nation’s 43rd president. In retrospect, this apparent superlative success may also prove to be Baker’s biggest failure, as the Bush II presidency heads towards history as a dark period for Americans – when economic, freedom and trust resources had to be sacrificed in order to pay homage to an inconceivably incompetent man he helped put in office. So much for the Massimo consigliere for the Famiglia Bush!

Although we are a month away from knowing what Baker has to say – I purposely disregard this group as a bipartisan panel of “wise Americans” – we can surmise that the report is but an indulgent sham and little else. The American leadership that got us into this mess, and that includes about 80 percent of the Democratic leaders, is just grasping at straws, postponing the inevitable one more day, one more week, one more month. The Iraq fiasco is definitely no affair but a rape we are committing, so let’s look in the mirror and see ourselves for what we are… without bullshit, without masks.

American politicians, of the two bands, keep making the same point: It’s no longer a question whether we were right or wrong invading Iraq, they say, the problem now confronting us is how to get out of there claiming victory, even if only symbolic, and give the appearance to the world that we are not leaving total chaos behind. And therein is our problem, for unless we recognize and deal with the mistake made, we will never be able to deal effectively with the aftermath of that mistake. For Bush storm troopers the problem is even more difficult to solve since they don’t even admit to the mistake.

The “Iraq problem,” or whatever we wish to call the predicament of the peoples in Iraq, as well as an invader that never became a successful occupier, needs to be addressed from its inception. Whatever the reasons for Bush et al to invade Iraq (oil, Israel, test of military readiness, familial revenge…) such action needs to be measured on two scales: morality and competence, with morality taking precedence. And, make no mistake; it was an amoral undertaking by the US government, executed in a very capricious and incompetent manner. But what needs to be redressed is the amorality of the action, not the smallness of the invading force; or, of Bremer’s brain – in dismissing the defeated Iraq forces, and the civil service machinery that ran the country ; efficiently, at that.

Nor is the problem about Saddam and his positive or negative contributions to the welfare of all the peoples merged as one nation (Sunnis, Shia and Kurds). The reality is that Iraq was a sovereign nation with great economic prospects because of both a smart educated people, and considerable wealth in energy resources. Iraq, pre-US meddling, was one of the most developed and Western-like nations in the region except for Israel. Whatever pan-Arab, or Saladin-stature ambitions the Iraqi leader might have had, they had been contained and brought down to size. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason for a magna-rape in which 2 to 3 percent of the nation’s population has been “collaterally” killed and another 5 percent (the most educated and needed) has fled. And a nation turned into shambles. All courtesy of the US!

Americans, in their naïveté or incompetence, have only served as a tool for economic enrichment of individuals, or the furtherance of sectarian/nationalistic goals… first of Kurds, then of Shia. And the violence, with our complicity, continues on just so the US can keep, for a while, a multi-billion dollar military base and an embassy sized to be the mother of all embassies. Can anyone picture the imbecilic architect suffering such dementia, or accept the idea that this is the type of leadership that governs America?

It’s always about losing face; always about us and the price we are paying, the sacrifice we are making, whether in lives or in dollars – never about others, or the cost that our amoral and reckless behavior may be exacting on them. The rape of Iraq, which started in 1991 via post-Gulf War sanctions, continues through today’s occupation, America as the unwanted aggressor forcing the intercourse. We must stop once and for all this vaginal mutilation; and do it because we are the rapist, not because our penis hurts.

There is no morning-after pill that we can offer Iraq as we do the right thing – cut and walk – but there will be opportunities for us to make amends. We could not begin to compensate Iraqis for the incalculable pain and suffering we’ve caused them, but we can certainly show contrition by footing the cost of a reconstruction program; designed by Iraqis and implemented with help from competent international organizations, not us.

Let the regional and international communities help bring peace to all Iraqis, engaging not only the Arab League, but Iran, Turkey and the good offices of the United Nations. The Western powers should bow out, offering only compensation for damages caused; or, at the very least, providing loans to reconstruct the country, whether as a federation or a confederation that meets reasonable criteria from the three (or more) factions.

When powerful criminals – whether individuals or nations – have incontestable power, not having to account to anyone for their misdeeds, why are we so surprised, and embittered, by the existence of terrorists? Aren’t these terrorists, after all, the emotional byproduct of criminality themselves? Isn’t it logical that the victims of this raped nation respond by expressing anger and outrage for generations to come; anger and outrage that will channel to acts of revenge? Let’s hope that not to be the case by making amends now… immediately.