One Side Of The Big Issue

Email from a friend of mine, who is trying to help me figure out the confusing mass of questions about whether or not war with Iraq is justified. Posted with his permission.

You have been my friend for more years of my life than not, so I trust that you will understand my inability to elaborate on specifics. [Said friend worked for the government for almost 20 years, in one of those “I’d tell you but I’d have to kill you” sort of jobs]

This food for thought, nothing more.

There is more to consider about Iraq than any potential connection with the events of 9/11/02. Forget the politics that have been warped beyond recognition. Forget any potential alliance between the fundamentalist and secular sects of Islam, and whatever theories there might be regarding financial and geographical support of bin Laden by Saddam Hussein. Forget all the reasons that the media parade in front of the public day in and day out. In the end, none of those reasons really matter.

Let’s pretend it’s not Iraq. Let’s pretend it’s a small country called Uberania. Uberania was once a Republic, and its citizens afforded a reasonable amount of freedoms. Then came a coup; Uberania was ruled thereafter by a dictator who modeled himself after Stalin—and prided himself on being much more ruthless. His eldest son was even more ruthless than the dictator, and was in charge of numerous interrogations. He reveled in torture; he had no qualms about chaining a man to a chair and raping his wife in front of him. He had no difficulties in dismembering the woman while her husband was forced to watch. And when he was done with her, emasculating the husband was simply his dessert.

Picture this once peaceful place: terror is the rule of the land. Women are less than property. Children are treated worse than dogs. Imagine yourself standing on a road there, an observer who cannot interfere. As you stand there you see two uniformed men approach a little girl; she looks to be about three years old and certainly is no more than five. They talk to her for a moment, and her eyes go wide with fear. And there is nothing you can do to stop it when they start beating her, pummeling her tiny body with fists and feet. When they finally stop, her blood coats the ground in a thick puddle, and her final breath is preceded by a small sound of bubbling. Her mother sees this from her house but if she tries to stop it, they will turn on her and set her, quite literally, on fire.

You can do nothing, so you move on. You watch as a teenage boy grabs a handful of old, molding food out of a pile of trash, and you watch as he’s shot by a soldier—for stealing garbage. And yet it doesn’t surprise you, because by now you’ve seen firsthand how the dictator handles dissent among his own staff. No one—no one—is allowed near him armed, but he damn well carries a side arm. And he doesn’t hesitate to use it. Hint that he might be wrong, and your brains will be sliding down the wall. Aid is sent to his people in barges of food and medicine, none of which makes it to the citizens. It feeds his army, and the medicine treats their ills while the rest of the country scrapes to get by, living in the shadow of fear, without enough food, and where an illness just a little worse than a cold can mean a death sentence.

Now—what if Uberania once went by the name of the United States of America? What if there were countries beyond its borders with the capability to help? Would saving the lives of most of the people in Uberania, freeing them from a true reign of terror, be worth the risk to the lives of those from whom they hope to find freedom? Would it be worth knowing how many might be saved against a regime with no compunctions against using biochemical weapons on its own citizens?

Would you risk your life if it meant freedom from complete oppression for those people? Would you not hope that if you lived like that, that someone would help you?

I’ve been to Iraq, Thump. None of the political posturing means anything. You can have a healthy distrust of our Administration and get the willies every time you hear the President speak, but that doesn’t mean the fundamental basics aren’t right. Hussein has to go. His cabinet has to go. The people of Iraq deserve, just as much as we do, a life without the constant stress of living in absolute terror. Think about how it felt on 9/11. How the people in NY felt. Imagine living through that every day. Always wondering when the next show will drop.

Yes, there are other countries with the same capabilities as Iraq but with few exceptions, none are lead by a true megalomaniacal sadist. We can play the waiting game, in hopes that he disarms, but that in itself won’t stop the abject suffering of the Iraqi people. People deserve better—and if we have the means to help them, it is in my opinion our responsibility.

View the politicians with healthy skepticism, but look past the rhetoric. There are valid reasons for going into Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein from power. Its people are reason enough.

I’d like to hear the opposing argument—without rhetoric, without calling the president a bunch of names, without referring to the U.S. Military as Bush’s Penile Extensions. Something very calm and reasonable. I need things to think about.

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