Iqra, recite, proclaim, affirm, avow, declare: Iraq is free.
Iraq has been freed from ten thousand years of tyranny; freed from darkest infamy; freed from cold villainy; freed from centuries of stasis; freed from nights of searing pain; freed from terrible torture; freed from sanctioned starvation; freed from laser-guided precision; freed from bombs that explode with shock and awe.
The whole world was witness to this historical moment. They saw the dark head of the tyrant, the granite head of Ozymandias draped in the fabric of freedom, effaced, his sneer blotted out, his terror nullified, brought down by the force of an armor-clad Bradley vehicle. Iraqis, many dozens of them, cheered lustily. A few even kissed the liberators on both cheeks, in authentic Arab style.
The nay-sayers, skeptics, doubting Thomases, Pacifists, prophets of doom, and the patriotically challenged were wrong about America’s war in Iraq. The millions who marched in the streets, protesting the war, are now gnashing their teeth. In deep shame, penitent, they have announced that they will march again in the millions, to curse, flog, flagellate themselves for marching against the war that freed Iraqis.
This was not a war on Iraq, much less a war against Iraq. It was a war in Iraq: a war for the Iraqis. It wasn’t the first time that a great civilizing nation has fought a war in a barbarous land against its homegrown tyrants. Civilized nations have carried this burden uncomplainingly, showing equal dedication in freeing lands of their peoples and, when the occasion demanded, freeing peoples of their lands. It is United States now that carries the torch of freedom, bravely torching anyone who shows the gall to oppose the forward march of the brave and free.
Consider the freedoms this war has bestowed on Iraq.
First and foremost, this war has freed Iraq of its WMDs. If Americans have not yet found any caches of WMDs inside Iraq, this was expected all along. In the days leading up to the war, the WMDs were smuggled into Syria for safe-keeping. But that only means that Americans will have to go the extra mile, into Syria. And perhaps Syria will smuggle them into Egypt, Egypt into Libya, Libya into Iran, and Iran into Sudan. Is this an Arab con-spiracy to hitch a freedom ride on Bradleys and Abrams tanks?
Instantly, the American liberators have turned the Iraqis free to pillage their museums, strip their hospitals, plunder their universi-ties, and loot their homes. The acutely funny Donald Rumsfeld ex-plained that ” freedom’s untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.” Quickly, the Iraqis are learning that the gift of freedom comes at a price. And they are eager to prove that their freedom is worth the price they are being asked to pay. If Madeline Albright could sacrifice the lives of half a million Iraqi children for American security, surely the Iraqis too can give up their national treasures for a fleeting taste of freedom.
After years of being locked out, the war has freed Iraq to spread the welcome mat to American Corporations. For thirteen long years, since Gulf War I, American capital was not free to outbid Russian, French and German capital in developing Iraq; it was an unconscionable abridgement of freedom. Now the playing fields have been leveled. The Bechtels, Halliburtons, Northrops, Exxons, Triremes are free at last to claim their pound of Iraqi flesh.
The liberation of Iraq is being unctuously greeted by Franklin Graham’s Good Samaritans, the pastoral faction of American capital. Their would-be victims are now free, after years of sof-tening with sanctions and bombings, to receive the good word of the Lord. Even as I write, the Samaritan convoys are converging on Iraq, ready to trade American food and water for Iraqi souls. The Iraqis never knew a better bargain, getting something for nothing.
Iraq has now been freed, as Egypt had been freed by its third defeat at Israeli hands in 1973, to derive the inestimable benefits of normal relations with Israel. After 55 years, Iraqi oil is now free again to flow to Haifa. And, one might add, Iraqi water too.
Freed from the threat of Iraq’s WMDs, Israelis can now attack the Palestinian problem–the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria–with greater freedom. The pace of ethnic cleansing, too slow for an early final solution, can now be accelerated. Now that Iraq is free, with help from the Americans, the Palestinians can be teleported to the deserts of Western Iraq.
The war has freed another Arab capital from the threat of Israel’s Samson option. The five million citizens of Baghdad, once the unimpeded looting stops, can sleep in peace. This is another inestimable gift of the war: an Iraq free from nuclear holocaust.
If one counts all the advantages of America’s war in Iraq–and I have barely started–history will record this war as the greatest opening in Iraqi history, when Iraqis were freed from the coils of convoluted tyranny. Once the Iraqis wake to this shattering truth, they will also acknowledge their deep debt to Saddam Hussein. It was his anti-Zionism, his methodical recklessness, his development of WMDs that precipitated the American war in Iraq, the war that freed them. Without Saddam, the Iraqis would still be toiling under some vapid dictatorship, like Hosni Mubarak’s, allied to Israel and receiving bribes from USAID.
I can imagine a day, once the fog of America’s war in Iraq clears, when the Iraqis may restore Saddam Hussein’s statue to the high pedestal it occupied in Baghdad’s Central Square. And these are the words that American visitors, in shock and awe, will read inscribed on its base: Saddam Hussein/A Brave Iraqi/Serendipitous Architect of Our Freedoms.
M. SHAHID ALAM teaches economics at Northeastern University, Boston, USA. His recent book, Poverty from the Wealth of Nations, was published by Palgrave (2000). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. © M. SHAHID ALAM