Surgery on Iraq
May 25, 2004
Let’s cut the bullshit – the stuff that so often comes from the mouths of leaders everywhere – and deal with some facts:
- The Bush administration repeatedly lied about the capabilities and intentions of Iraq to do harm to the United States.
- The Bush administration was internationally condemned for even contemplating an attack on a sovereign nation that, clearly, was not threatening the United States.
- The Bush administration arrogantly ignored the rest of the world and attacked Iraq anyway.
- The Bush administration was justifiably proud of removing cutthroat Saddam from power but manifestly unprepared to prevent eruptions of violence and looting.
- The Bush administration was quick to disband or otherwise emasculate the Iraqi army and security forces, many of whom could have helped to establish and maintain civil order.
- The Bush administration, somewhere near the top, ordered U.S. troops to torture and humiliate Iraqi prisoners of war.
- The Bush administration is responsible for the deaths and maiming of thousands of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers.
- The Bush administration is like the doctor who insisted on performing unnecessary surgery and now has his head stuck in the open and bloody chest cavity of a critical patient.
It must at this point be emphasized that most, if not all, of the world’s nations will become democratic within twenty years. So one should ignore those who pat their fannies in self-congratulation as they proclaim “how wonderful Iraq will someday be” as a result of this war. Iraq, indeed, will be better, but not because it was attacked. Life in Iraq and other totalitarian countries will improve because their governments’ vicious and incompetent leaders can no longer suppress the knowledge that freedom is inexorably spreading.
In the meantime, how can this patient be saved? How can the doctor avoid malpractice of appalling dimensions? The answer, in principle, is straightforward. The doctor must stop using his scalpel as an axe and start working in the manner of a skilled and compassionate physician whose primary concern is the well-being of the patient. No, that’s not a naïve call for the United States to become soft and defenseless. American conservatives are the only people among the world’s six billion who see the U.S. that way. In fact, the superpower has been pounding Iraq for thirteen years, first crushing it in the Gulf War, then strangling it with an economic boycott that caused scores of thousands of civilians to die from malnutrition and disease, all the while bombing a defeated nation that couldn’t fight back. Indeed, the Bush administration was very confident that Iraqi defense forces would collapse soon after the invasion in 2003. It was relatively easy to slice the patient open. Oh, but the bleeding, and the arrogance to presume that recovery would be as trouble-free as the operation.
Now it’s time for the only step that can stop the bloodshed: give the Iraqi people real political freedom on June thirtieth. Give them their liberty, and with that must come the right to struggle and fail and try again. When the Iraqi people start believing they really are free, the relatively few who crave a medieval existence will begin to lose support and either be turned in, killed in combat, or decide to put down their arms.
The doctor can monitor this process for perhaps another year or two, but he must also make plans to leave the patient’s home.