Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Rape of Iraq

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

May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail