FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Rape of Iraq

by DIANE CHRISTIAN

Let’s stop using the word war to describe our action in Iraq. While it is terribly true that we are killing and maiming and destroying and being killed and maimed and morally destroyed we should shelve the word war. It constructs a righteous cause and compels a rhetoric of winning. Winning sets figures of contest and domination and triumph and prevailing victory and honoring those who died in the cause, “We are committed to winning. It is our only course,” says Cheney.

‘Iraqi Freedom’ was not a righteous war but a preemptive attack rationalized on faulty ideas, imaginations, and greed. Better to think of it as rape.

We raped Iraq. We began our action with forced, non-consensual penetration and despoilation of that country. Our Vice President publically imagined they wanted us and would welcome us, would love us and our intentions. Guilt followed, and more delusion, and stubborn refusal to admit the action. So stopping the rape, getting out, is where the figure flags. Rather than withdrawing and taking a shower, we’ve continued the rape and recast the story.

Our story now is that we’re waging a war on terror and evil in Iraq a sufficiently abstract story to distract us from the ongoing rape of Iraq.

Rape stories may be instructive.

In Genesis Shechem the Canaanite rapes Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, and seeks to marry her. Dinah’s brothers require circumcision, so he consents to circumcision for himself and his people to promote intermarriage and property alliances. While he’s healing, Dinah’s brothers kill him and his people, “and plundered the city in reprisal for Dinah’s defilement.” Jacob disapproves, but the brothers say noone treats our sister like that. The story says kin remember and will avenge.

Another biblical story of King David’s children makes that same point and an additional one. Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar and is killed by her full brother Absalom. After Amnon rapes her he hates her as in Shakespeare’s phrase about lust ‘past reason hunted, past reason hated.’ The story shows the trope eroticize, rape, blame the victim, perish.

Rape stories don’t usually end well. The rapist is a brute and often a deceiver, not a successful romancer. Rape cannot force love or alliance. How then can we forge honor from the Iraq story? Staying the course seems honorable to many, like taking responsibility, fixing what you broke. But rape cannot be fixed by force. It is stubbornness, willful pride, pure error to compound the violation.

Some, like Henry Kissinger, say victory is our only option. They cling to the figure of war and winning. The story for them is not about Iraq but about our loss of face and power. Which means that rape, like torture and terror, remains our strategy. Which means we are caught in the compulsion of our action and unable to break free. Until we can’t anymore keep up the rape.

Americans seem blind to the brutality of violent action but super-sensitive to sexual acts. So perhaps the rape analogy might penetrate the obdurate callous war story we perpetrated and persist in. Rape is harder to spin, closer to skin, ugly. Accurate.

No face-saving fiction is credible now. We need to face our face as rapist and despoiler and change it. However well-meaning and heroic we might wish to appear, intentions cannot transform the actions of barbarism and terror.

Rape is a love story only for sociopaths.

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

 

More articles by:

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 24, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
A Shameful Silence: Where is the Outrage Over the Slaughter of Civilians in Mosul?
Robert Hunziker
Extremely Nasty Climate Wake-Up
Ron Jacobs
Dylan and Woody: Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
Dan Glazebrook
Quantitative Easing: the Most Opaque Transfer of Wealth in History
Ellen Brown
Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks
Richard Hardigan
The Media is Misleading the Public on the Al-Asqa Mosque Situation
Matthew Stevenson
Travels in Trump’s America: Memphis, Little Rock, Fayetteville and Bentonville
Ruth Fowler
Fire at Grenfell
Ezra Kronfeld
The Rights of Sex Workers: Where is the Movement to Legalize Prostitution
Mark Weisbrot
What Venezuela Needs: Negotiation Not Regime Change
Binoy Kampmark
From Spicy to the Mooch: A Farewell to Sean Spicer
Wim Laven
Progress Report, Donald Trump: Failing
Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail