Non-fiction vs. Fiction
You may have heard the latest book censorship story: publication of a book depicting an Arab warrior saving his hometown from foreign occupiers has been blocked. This has happened not in Turkey, but in Iraq. Since the author was none other than Saddam Hussein, luckily for the occupation forces, the news about the publication of the novel came out conveniently early in a local newspaper, so that the authorities were quick to apprehend the hot-off-the-press copies. If they were not quick enough, the Iraqi readership would have read the novel titled "Ukhrooj Minha Ya Mal'un," whose translation was rightly handled by a news agency as "Get Out Of Here, Damned One."
Don't worry. Saddam, whose earlier works of fiction have not been received with universal acclaim and did not stir any enthusiasm in Iraq when he was its ruler, is in no position to complain about it. I don't think Iraqi human rights activists - if there are any - would come out for his defense. Though, this little news item will likely affect our conception of the deposed Iraqi leader, as we last saw him in his underwear washing his dirty clothes.
I know George W. Bush doesn't need my advice nor is he ready to accept any foreign interference. He has started getting more than a handful of criticism from his own party, but so what? He has almost four more years to lead the White House. With this in mind, I nevertheless wonder what if he had heeded friendly comments coming from all over the world in regard to his intended military campaign towards Iraq? The reply is clear: The U.S. would not have lost over 1,700 of its loved ones, and at least $200 billion U.S. would have remained in its coffers for more noble causes.
One cannot undo what has already been done. We should not cry over spilled milk. We have got to do what we have got to do. But it is about time somebody who is high up in the U.S. decision-making hierarchy gave the Iraqi mess a little bit more consideration. The U.S., as an occupation power, should save its face so that it can start to reduce its huge military presence in the region while the Iraqis have more confidence to govern themselves.
This is easier said than done. I agree with whoever reminds me of this old saying after reading my humble proposal. The Iraqi mess created by the U.S. resembles not only a quagmire, as was the case in Vietnam in the early 1970s, but it also reminds me our beloved Hodja Nasreddin's famous impasse.
Hodja was quick to catch a thief in his house in the middle of the night, but his wife, still in bed, was anxious over the continuous noises downstairs. She shouted out to her husband, asking if he had caught the thief. His "Yes" reply was reassuring, but the noises didn't stop. She suggested that he should bring the thief to the bedroom. Hodja replied negatively: "He won't give up." She suggested that he should let him go. And the reply of the Hodja came desperately: "He doesn't want to leave."
I'm afraid that Iraq is in the same situation for the U.S.: On the one hand, Iraq isn't going the way the occupying power wants it to go, as it is resisting rather fiercely. On the other hand, it's not that easy for the occupying power to leave Iraq to its own destiny, since it may collapse as a state.
If the U.S. cannot find a way to handle Iraq cleverly and effectively, the next phase would be disastrous for its overall image, and the global fight against terror would receive a harsh blow. The next phase would either be an honorable way out from Iraq, or it would turn the U.S. into an unenviable position in the eyes of the global community. One misstep and no one can be sure where the U.S. and the world for that matter would end up.
The signals are all there to see. The latest polls on domestic war support have given alarming results. The American public seems to be on the verge of forgetting what Saddam did to his own people and are beginning to accuse their own administration of waging an unjust war. With the official acknowledgment of torture at the hands of American guards in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan, the moral stance of the U.S. is being eroded. The words of Donald Rumsfeld, American defense secretary, last week to the effect that his country is not thinking of withdrawing from Iraq are not comforting.
Just like the thief in Hodja's household, occupied Iraq is not surrendering to the occupier.
The local leaders ruling Iraq on behalf of the occupying force have not made too much progress either. The timetable designed months ago for realizing the minimum requirements for self-rule is not working as expected. The political rivalries between ethnicities and sects are there to solve. The elected bodies are hesitant to go on unless they are under pressure. The August appointment for a new Constitution is approaching rapidly, but nothing concrete is evident yet. Everyday occurrences of suicide bomb attacks should also be mentioned. The insurgency is taking the shape of a resistance, if not in the minds of the Iraqis then in the minds of the global public.
As in the case of our stubborn thief caught by the Hodja who does not want to leave the house peacefully, Iraq is also resisting progress for greener pastures.
I have no desire to find out how the novel penned by Saddam Hussein ends, because of my conviction that the worst scenario for the real Iraq is better than a happy ending envisaged by Saddam's novel.
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