Save Iraq from the carnage
By Fawaz Turki
Dear Mr. Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq:
I’m writing this urgent memo as per your request in the speech you recently gave calling on people in “the Arab nation” to ready themselves for a confrontation with “the sons of Satan.” These devils are poised, you stated, to invade your country, inflicting on its citizens potentially more suffering than the one visited upon them 12 years ago — incalculable suffering from which they yet have to recover to this day.
Since I care about Iraq’s fate and its people’s welfare — not just because I happen to be an Arab, but also because of my concerns, being the liberal fool that I am, about the right of deprived folks in Third World nations to enjoy social justice and freedom, and to live prosperous, secure lives — I am urging you to drop the notion that of “l’etat, c’est mois,” and to contemplate what might be, in these dangerous times, the best answer to the very question that you yourself raised in your speech: How to deal with the imminent disaster that your country, and along with it the Arab nation, appears to be facing.
Mr. Hussein, Sir, have you considered the possibility of resigning, leaving Iraq and living in exile where you could productively devote your time to writing your memoir?
Those of us in the summer of 1990 who could see the writing on the wall and urged you to withdraw your occupation troops from Kuwait before all hell broke loose — commentators whom you and your media identified then as “reactionaries” and “lackeys of imperialism” one and all — find themselves at it again today. As it turned out, however, we were right.
Truth be told, it didn’t take a lot of prescience or insight on our part (columnists possess neither, since they are in the end mere hacks, cobbling ideas together while armed with no more than common sense) to realize that the half a million American soldiers dispatched to the Gulf at the time, backed by Arab allies disturbed at the idea of an Arab country brazenly invading another, were not little green men posturing theatrically on your borders. They meant business.
You didn’t think so, thereby failing the test of what defines a great leader: Possession of that antenna which reaches beyond the rim of the present and, as it were, makes darkness visible. You failed to see the shadow of approaching ruin, and the bodies of tens of thousands of your people, both soldiers and civilians, that were to be scattered to ash all over Iraq.
Clearly, Sir, you don’t want that to happen again, do you?
In recent months, American battle planners, and soldiers in great numbers, began returning to the region to yet again wage a war against your country. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Washington has indicated that war could be avoided if you “walk away.” This position is official, not a leak to some journalist or other, reported without attribution. No less a figure than Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was quoted by the New York Times on Jan. 8 as saying: “The first choice would be that Saddam Hussein would pick up and leave the country.” Moreover, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, the same day, stated that “Secretary Powell and Secretary Rumsfeld have both said that it’s an opportunity that Saddam Hussein should take advantage of.”
Sure, if you step aside, Americans and their allies may still want to “disarm” your country, “free” its people, and bring about “regime change,” but will they mount a devastating military assault on it after your resignation and departure? Very doubtful indeed.
So, you see, Sir, the very carnage that you fear could be averted through the purchase of a one way ticket to a safe haven for yourself and your family.
For, make no mistake about it, Mr. Hussein, war against Iraq will bring dreadful carnage.
In that regard, let me share this with you. A UN contingency planning report made public on Jan. 7, called “Likely Humanitarian Scenarios,” claims that as many as 500,000 Iraqis could suffer injuries and require medical treatment if war is launched soon. But also consider the damage, in addition, to Iraq’s infrastructure, its economy, its social system and, above all, I ask you to consider the trauma that your people will go through after having had to endure constant conflict for well over two decades, beginning with that war between your country and neighboring Iran, that cost the lives of a million Muslims on both sides.
I’m sending you this memo, Sir, in good faith. I know your first reaction is, “Mind your own business.” Well, the truth is that this impending war is my business, indeed every Arab’s business, since its consequences will inevitably affect us all, and most probably end destabilizing our entire region. This, as I said earlier, comes on top of our compassionate concern for the fate of Iraq and the welfare of its people.
Is it too much, then, to ask you, with all due respect, to make a dignified exit, whose end result will be to save us all from the doom that this war will bring down on our heads? What would it take to have you consider this option?
Yes, Mr. Hussein, I know, political power, of the extensive variety that you have enjoyed all these years, can become after a while not just intoxicating but addictive. You grow with it as you grow with your own skin. Thus, how could I even begin to imagine that it is possible for you to live life in exile, shorn of it? Oh, the horror, the horror!
I know, I know.
But do it for your own people. Do it for Iraq. Do it for the Arab nation. Do it to save us all from war. All it would take is for you to simply pick up your bags and leave the country, thus, in one brilliant stroke, pre-empting all the machinations that those sons of Satan have up their sleeves.
And let me end this missive, Sir, by saying, no, whatever you do, don’t call on me should you, in your exile, seek the services of a ghost writer to write your memoir. I don’t think that I’ll have the stomach for the kind of gruesome stories you are likely to tell, and have me narrate on the printed page. Thanks, but no thans. Heck, I’m just a lowly columnist.
— Fawaz Turki, a lowly columnist (disinheritedyahoo.com)
Arab News Opinion 16 January 2003