Leaving Iraq with Honor

Lately I can't get out of my head the military-industrial-religious extremism that led to the U.S. intervention in Iraq. We can't stay there indefinitely, we're not settlers, we're not going to wipe out the indigenous population like we did the Indians, and have Americans settle there permanently and forge a democracy. (Aside from the attraction of the oil, it's only sand and some marshland over there.) Eventually we have to send lots of troops home because they live in America not in Iraq, and because we can't afford to maintain a huge occupying force there indefinitely since it costs the U.S. government too much money. So time and money continue to run out.

Iraq also remains divided. The Kurds want their own nation in northern Iraq. The Shiites, empowered by their Iranian cousins, want to get a Shiite religious leader voted into office at the first Iraqi elections. The Sunni minority in Iraq hate the Shiites and are killing election personnel. Both Sunnis and Shiites hate ex-Baath party police and soldiers. And everybody hates the Americas since we've spilled the blood of 100,000 civilians in Iraq along with the blood of untold numbers of "insurgents," that must exceed 100,000 easily. So we have enraged or driven to despair countless wives, children, brothers, cousins and uncles. The police in Iraq are poorly trained and often leave right after receiving their first paycheck. So more people are currently joining insurgent groups than joining the police force. And the insurgents are far more dedicated than the ragtag under equipped police force in Iraq.


In post-Saddam Iraq many children are being educated in private Islamic fundamentalist schools where they lear n to memorize the Koran, rather than being prepared for a world of complex diverse knowledge and higher paying jobs. Therefore, such schools breed further misunderstandings between world cultures, as well as perpetuate poverty, which in turn perpetuates anger. Moreover, as pointed out by professor W. Andrew Terrill (professor at the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, and the top expert on Iraq there), "I don't think that you can kill the insurgency in Iraq. If you are a Muslim and the community is under occupation by a non-Islamic power it becomes a religious requirement to resist that occupation. Most Iraqis consider us occupiers, not liberators. There's talk of angels and the Prophet Mohammed coming down from heaven to lead the fighting, talk of martyrs whose bodies are glowing and emanating wonderful scents." -- W. Andrew Terrill, [Cited by Sidney Blumenthal, sidney_blumenthal@yahoo.com, "Far graver than Vietnam," The Guardian, Thursday September 16, 2004]

In the end the neo-con dreams of forging a democracy in Iraq, and then forging one in Iran, appear doomed. But the Republicans and Religious Right will find someone else to blame the doom on. They will blame it on unbelievers like me. However it was the Republican government that had control of both the presidency and the congress, and who decided to go to war with the "army we had" which Rumsfeld and others feared might be insufficient to begin with. Yet Bush and Rummy went to war anyway, so it's their own Republican-neo-con war machine fault. I guess all of President Bush's talks with God will eventually prove to have been in vain.

The war is costing approximately half a trillion U.S. tax dollars, or more if the insurgency continues fighting. And that's only the money we know about because according to a U.S. Dept. of Defense report in 2000 by its own inspector general, that Dept. is capable of losing track of amounts as high as "one trillion one hundred billion dollars") If I had half a trillion to fritter away, like Bush frittered away on this war, I would have spent it on homeland security first, and then on beefing up our intelligence agencies, and then on alternative energy development, instead of handing it over to the makers of "War Inc." who make "Things That Go Boom," and spread hatred, fear and suspicion of America around the globe. It was America whose CIA backed the Fascist Baath party of Iraq to begin with, the party from which Saddam arose. It was America who sold Saddam many of his weapons including some of the ones he used to gas Iranians (in the war with Iran) and the Kurds. And it is American weapons that the Saudis buy and that maintain their monarchy--instead of allowing the people to vote and have a democracy in Saudi Arabia which the Saudis fear would lead to religious leaders getting voted into office. Yet we are going to allow Iraq to vote? This will be interesting. Whoever gets in is gonna have to dodge bullets and bombs. And we're going to have to leave eventually.

I suppose America's leaders have a plan. I assume the plan involves pumping oil like mad. Suck, suck, suck that oil up. And then leave as soon as drilling new wells grown unprofitable. Of course Iraq will receive a bill to pay all of those nice American companies for doing the sucking, and for rebuilding Iraq. Then we'll leave with our profits and discount oil. The question is can we pump all that oil out of there before the American people want the troops returned home, or before our government goes broke paying for the occupation of Iraq to continue?

And when we leave, the Iraqi people will be left oilless and jobless in an arrid angry land, except of course for jobs that involve becoming policemen (human targets from people on all sides who hate them). Americans will have taken all the major building contracts and profits home with them, while more Iraqis will be left starving and jobless than ever before.

In the end, the Iraqis and many in the rest of the world will continue to hate us. We will have sucked the country drier of oil, and milked it for more cash than Saddam ever could have in his wildest dreams. And left the people with more "freedom" than they know what to do with--the "freedom" to eat sand and continue fighting with one another with American made weapons in their hands by that time, purchased with the money they earned from the last of their oil.

Why did we go there in the first place? What will we have gained? There are questions the U.S. government did not fully consider, instead they waved a flag and cried "freedom!" The motion of flag waving must have blown all of the reports that contained "long term forecasts" right off the president's desk. Now that we are there it's like getting involved in a heated argument with someone and both sides want to have the last word, neither will either side back down. We have become "Israel" to the insurgents' "Palestine," and you know how irresolvable that conflict has been.

If there is a solution it doesn't appear that either "prayer" or "flag-waving" on either side, is going to provide it. We need people intensely skilled in the arts of language, communication and diplomacy, people with unbloodied and graft-free hands, and who have intelligence but not wealth (which is always supicious), and who had nothing to do with the fighting (on either side). Moderates of some sort, for these most immoderate of times. I say, let's find these people and put them on TV all over the Middle East, people who know the language, who have suffered, and can show tears, but yet who can still forgive. People who can remind us that all sides win when no one dies. Sunnis with Shiite neighbors, Kurds and friendly neighbors. Christians with Muslim neighbors. There must be some people in Iraq who still speak kindly and think kindly of one another, or who did so in the past, and wish the past to be rekindled once again. Stories of neighborly behavior ought to be broadcast and made known. And if we can assure the people of Iraq that for every week a truce between all sides is successful, we will remove a certain number of troops, and after the first successful month of truce, we will open the financial books of American corporate profits in Iraq to inspection from all sides, and will pay back any illegitimate over charges that such corporations have made, maybe then, we can leave with some honor left intact.

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