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An Iraqi leader speaks to the Anti War Movement

It is morally repugnant that people walk in marches across Western cities calling, essentially, for the Iraqi people to be kept in their collective jail with their tormentors.
AMID all the talk about war with Iraq and the opposition to it, one voice has gone conspicuously unheard -- that of the Iraqi people. It is bewildering to most Iraqis how so many can claim to speak for them, both protagonists and opponents of the war. As an Iraqi-American and one who has remained in touch with the Iraqi people, I feel it is time to say a few words.

Firstly, let me address the anti-war group. Before 1990, the Iraqi people had one of the highest standards of living of any Third World country. They also had the highest number of college graduates of any country in the Middle East and enjoyed one of the best health-care systems in the Third World. This was because of an educational program with state subsidies initiated during the monarchy, which ended in 1958. Then, with two devastating external wars, countless internal purges, policies of genocide in the north and ethnic cleansing in the south, use of food as a political weapon and multiple other abuses by a regime that cared little for them, they became what they are now.

They feel indignant that a university professor has to supplement his income driving a taxi at night. When a father requires his own daughter to help feed her siblings through prostitution, they are all humiliated. When food rations are cut for the sake of weapons of mass destruction, building palaces and monuments, and exorbitant spending by the party elite, the Iraqi people are further devastated.

In a country where more than 200,000 persons annually disappear because of institutionalized killings, liquidations, weapons of mass destruction experiments on political prisoners, and out and out community demolitions, a war that could bring hope for a better life is but a small price to suffer. To many Iraqis, the calls against the war are nothing but another collective letting down by the Arab, regional and international community -- especially those enjoying democracy and freedom of speech in the West. It is bigoted to assert that Iraqis deserve no more than what they have, Saddam and his regime.

It is morally repugnant that people walk in marches across Western cities calling, essentially, for the Iraqi people to be kept in their collective jail with their tormentors. They remember how Saddam refused to accept the oil-for-food program for almost six years after the end of the Persian Gulf War. Those who have marched are either ignorant of the facts and need to educate themselves, or sinister creatures no different from Saddam and his institutionalized murderers, torturers and rapists. They will be remembered as people who called for maintaining the status quo for more than 15 million Iraqis under Saddam's rule.

To those who favor war, I observe: Iraqis see this war, if it occurs, as a war of liberation. They can look a short distance into northern Iraq and see how 13 percent of the oil-for-food money has converted 25 percent of Iraq's population into a well-fed, democratic and prosperous people. They see the infant mortality rates lower than they had ever been in the country, in its entire history, only a few miles to the north. Most importantly, they hope and dream of a democratic society where individual and group rights are sacred. They look for peace and prosperity inside their borders [so that] they can rebuild their country with the water, mineral, agricultural and professional wealth already present.

If there is a plan for regime change in Iraq, it must be for democracy. It must be for reconciliation. It must be for acknowledging the rights of all religions, faiths, sects and ethnic groups. It must be for the creation of a civil society. It must be for a unique federalism that will accommodate all of Iraq's peoples.

If the plan falls short of these essential goals, then war will not be of benefit to Iraqis. To be rid of WMDs, Iraqis must be freed from despotism, fear and dictatorship. Solutions advocating letting Saddam and his gang go into exile would further devastate the Iraqi people and prevent them from achieving their goals. This in turn would generate more trouble in the future, just as cutting half the cancer will not cure the patient. In short it would be another betrayal by the international community. It would also amount to a betrayal of the people footing the bill for such a war, the American people.

It has become self-evident that the world and the Iraqi people cannot live with Saddam and his regime. Nor can the world live with an [appointed] replacement.

The democratization of Iraq will show the Middle East that the West cares for it. The liberation of Iraq will have untold beneficial effects that will dwarf the stated objective of removing weapons of mass destruction. This is the only formula that will work for Iraq, the region and the world.





Al-Bassam, a medical doctor, is an Iraqi-American who lives and works in Houston. He is a member of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and a founding member of the Iraqi National Congress.

homepage: homepage: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/editorial/outlook/1759872

Wow 02.Feb.2003 08:59

Yes

Is this just propaganda? Did a big chunk of high tech flaming capitalist prosperity fall outa the sky and hit you upside the head?

Is there a tiny ring of truth in here somewhere?

Is the standard of living in the United states a result of our subservience and appreciation of the token trinkets of reward trickled down from our corporate demigods?

What do you have to say to those of us who are PRO PEACE and not ANTI WAR?

Do you see any difference between the two?

How then is peace achieved through more war?

Mr professor, when has that formula ever worked before?

And finally my humble opinion, YOU sir are firmly stuck in the OLD PARADIGM. Its time to WAKE UP! PEACE

DISINFORMATION-BY PLANT 02.Feb.2003 09:11

WEED IT OUT

1. 200,000 people a year die are killed by sadam?
a, what census produced this data

2. economic isolation is a us/un siege designed to hurt
the people of iraq and anyone interfereing.

3. if embargos worked cuba, would be part of florida by now.

4. there is no plan for democrazation for any place in the world rapid puppetization thru globalization.

5 too bad the powers that be have not decided to try peace through prosperity.

Thank you 02.Feb.2003 11:11

Me

Thank you for posting this article. It is well-written and compelling.

I think that many of the liberal arts grads who are pledging allegience to Saddam from their safe cocoon over here have no idea what it is like to live in such a place. Thank you for sharing this article with us.

Where? 02.Feb.2003 11:30

anon

Where in the US Constitution does it say the United States has the authority to decide who rules and controls that patch of sand currently known as Iraq?

Difference of opinion, so what? 02.Feb.2003 12:00

PEACE FOR ALL

Planning on opening a business in Iraq after the invasion huh Doctor?

Just because you are an Iraqi-American does not mean you are not full of shit and you don't have your own greedy motives.

Yes perhaps the opinons regarding invasion/liberation are split in Iraq just like they are here in the U.S. So what!

People that are for PEACE are not at all necessarily for Mr. Hussein or even Iraq. The people that are for peace feel that we should be able to solve differences with diplomacy not bloodshed. The peace movement is trying to change the world now for everyone and for the future not just Iraq.

Besides, what right does the U.S. have to change a countries government? Whether it is good for that countries people or not?

What constitution? 02.Feb.2003 12:15

Trish

Since when does anybody here on this site care about the constitution? I almost rolled when I read that.

You're right Professor.... 02.Feb.2003 12:28

is

...we anti-war marchers should just go home and shut up so your fellow Iraqis can enjoy the fruits of the American war machine liberating them. Who wouldn't enjoy being a part of the collateral damage??? Who doesn't enjoy being incinerated, shrapneled, shot up, and irradiated in the name of freedom??
What you misunderstand, sir, is the motives and goals of the demonstrations here and in other parts of the world.

War of Liberation? 02.Feb.2003 14:18

Radar

800 scud missiles dropped on Baghdad is liberation?

The good doctor 02.Feb.2003 14:54

Bush Admirer

1 - The good doctor puts up a very credible article here.

2 - Liberal weenies discover the awful truth -- they're on the wrong side of this issue.

3 - They immediatey take to the defensive, go into denial, and strike out at the good doctor.

They're going too support Saddam regardless, embarrassing themselves and their country in the process.

What a bunch of dipshits!

Uhhh...Liberation? 02.Feb.2003 14:57

Ed Harley

Hmmm... if you think we ought to 'liberate' all those suffering under a despotic/corrupt/repressive regime, why are you chickenhawks not calling for the US to 'liberate' North Korea, where people reportedly eat tree bark because they are starving, while the government builds up the military? Why are you not calling for the 'liberation' of Myanmar/Burma, which has suffered under a heinously repressive military dictatorship? Oh, right, we already got our oil companies in there, no need to 'free the people'. Why are you not calling for the 'liberation' of China, whose human rights atrocities are frequent and well documented? Ahh, right, it's because they've already allowed Motorola, Microsoft, ConAgra, and so forth, in to sell electromachanical gadgets and genetically altered food to their suffering, impoverished masses... no need to go in and 'liberate' the Chinese, then. How about in Nigeria, where islamic law in certain parts of the country routinely sentences women to be stoned to death? Oh, right, I remember, we already have oil companies in there doing business. Let freedom ring! How about Saudi Arabia, where women have no rights? Oops, it's that oil thing again. Shucks. Hmmm, what about Pakistan, that hotbed of democracy and freedom? Oh, they're US 'allies' now - they must have signed an accord with Unocal or ExxonMobil. Looks like we're running out of folks to 'liberate'... better hurry up and bomb Iraq.

Attacking Iraq entenches Saddam's power 02.Feb.2003 15:01

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

People in general turn to a "strong man" when they are threatened. Saddam is in power now because of the last Gulf War as well as the genocidal sanctions imposed on Iraq. Without these 2 attacks on Iraq, Saddam would not be seen as necessary to the people of Iraq. Before the first Gulf War, he was assassinating many people close to him - because a coup was near and because he was losing control. By attacking Iraq, we keep Saddam in power. Get real.

BA... Please become a 'liberator' 02.Feb.2003 15:11

Ed Harley

Hello Bush Admirer,

Why haven't you signed up yet to go and help 'liberate' Iraq? You never seem to have a compelling argument for your positions, just, "you're on the wrong side.." blah blah blah. In fact, you and the rest of the chickenshit chickenhawks who want to 'liberate' Iraq from the safety of your computer screen are well on the margins of the civilized world. Everyone - including Bush's own church congregation and leadership - can easily see through the lies trotted out day after day to try and get support for this phony, imperialist war. Anyway, why not do us all a favor and head to your nearest recruiting office today? I'm sure they can use your fightin' skills, not to mention your sharp intellect, in their noble campaign to spread some freedom and democracy around for the less fortunate. I'll help you pack.

FUCK AMERICAN-STYLE LIBERATION 02.Feb.2003 15:42

Destroy America; Save Humanity

"Hmmm... if you think we ought to 'liberate' all those suffering under a despotic/corrupt/repressive regime, why are you chickenhawks not calling for the US to 'liberate' North Korea, where people reportedly eat tree bark because they are starving, while the government builds up the military? Why are you not calling for the 'liberation' of Myanmar/Burma, which has suffered under a heinously repressive military dictatorship? Oh, right, we already got our oil companies in there, no need to 'free the people'. Why are you not calling for the 'liberation' of China, whose human rights atrocities are frequent and well documented? Ahh, right, it's because they've already allowed Motorola, Microsoft, ConAgra, and so forth, in to sell electromachanical gadgets and genetically altered food to their suffering, impoverished masses... no need to go in and 'liberate' the Chinese, then. How about in Nigeria, where islamic law in certain parts of the country routinely sentences women to be stoned to death? Oh, right, I remember, we already have oil companies in there doing business. Let freedom ring! How about Saudi Arabia, where women have no rights? Oops, it's that oil thing again. Shucks. Hmmm, what about Pakistan, that hotbed of democracy and freedom? Oh, they're US 'allies' now - they must have signed an accord with Unocal or ExxonMobil. Looks like we're running out of folks to 'liberate'... better hurry up and bomb Iraq. "


You pro-War people and the anti-War people in America are all the same. Most of them believe that America has a moral and political right to "liberate" (read: enslave) any country around the world--especially Third World countries that don't have the benefit of your Western Psueudo-Democracy.

This is American Imperialist Logic at its very worst. Like the idea of the Western Civilizing Mission espoused by the British Empire, the American Empire's rhetoric about "liberation" is nothing more than a modern day "White Man's Burden"--a Propaganda cover to justify the spread of American evil...I mean, democracy and freedom...around this planet.

It is long overdue to start exposing the BIG LIE that America even represents Freedom, Democracy, Human Rights, or Liberation to begin with. IT never has, and it never will.

If anybody deserves to be "liberated" (with a few thousands nukes and daisy cutter bombs), it is this American Evil Empire and the fascistic American people themselves.

I know the rest of the world is just itching to deliver some "Shock and Awe" to America itself and liberate the American people from their own self-righteous delusion, their Christian-like belief in their own Moral supremacy, and their Crusader rhetoric about "liberation."

Let slip the dogs of war.
FUCK AMERICAN-STYLE LIBERATION
FUCK AMERICAN-STYLE LIBERATION

Factoid 02.Feb.2003 15:55

Memory

I don't know if anyone caught this, but the good doctor above is a founding member of the Iraqi National Congress, which received a very large sum of money from Clinton's government in 1998. The I.N.C. has an interest in the future control of Iraq and are not to be trusted as far as I can tell.

OF COURSE Hussein is a killer, tyrant, fascist, etc. When Iraqis and Kurds rose up against him in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, the US allowed Hussein to destroy them..thus proving that the 'humanitarian' motives of the US oil/corporate/world domination regime are far from noble, as they pretend, and as the good doctor pretends..

Memory

> Ed Harley 02.Feb.2003 16:52

Bush Admirer

I'm ready to enlist if they'll take me Ed. Are you?

Saddam has to go. The good doctor is a a very credible Iraqi.

Are you going to stick with denial when all the facts are against you?

BA = Ari Fleischer? 02.Feb.2003 20:02

Ed Harley

Umm, what 'facts' might those be, Bush Admirer? You keep referring to things like 'facts', yet I never see you actually state any. Nope, just empty lies and rhetoric that you learned by listening to your progenitors on talk radio, or maybe from one of your heroes, Ari Fleischer.

And, to answer your query.. no, I am most certainly NOT ready to enlist. I am not the one who supports American soldiers dying for the oil rich, who sit around drinking champagne in underground bunkers and other 'undisclosed locations'. I would never join the US military. You, on the other hand, are a war monger, so it's more than legitimate to ask you to put your money where your mouth is. Since you're still cheerleading for the spilling of blood from the safe confines of your cubcle, or wherever you spend all your days and nights heckling from, I guess it's safe to assume that, like your hero George W. Bush, you avoid the conflict while calling for others to go and fight and die for your disgraceful, disgusting ideology. So, I ask you: if you are so in favor of the war, and you honestly believe that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the US, why have you not signed up to do battle? The answer is that, like all your draft-dodging, chickenhawk idols in the white house, you are a coward, and an ill-informed one at that. Again, where are these 'facts' you refer to? Do you know something the rest of the world's intelligence communities do not? You have so far failed to respond with any substance to anything I've challenged you on in this forum. Please, give me the facts.... but, I guess you really don't have any, do you? The only terrorist linked to Saddam Hussein is one of your gods, the honorable Donald Rumsfeld. That's the only connection for which evidence exists. I invite you to demonstrate otherwise.

Reply to Ed Harley 02.Feb.2003 22:21

Bush Admirer

Funny, I don't recognize your handle Ed. If you've responded to me in the past, it must have been under another handle. Have you been hiding out under miscellaneous handles?

I keep referring to facts, like those posted by the good DR. MAHDI AL-BASSAM in the lead article in this thread. You're the one who has difficulty coming up with facts Ed.

Even though I asked the question, I knew you wouldn't be ready to enlist in the US military. Someone like you, who is disloyal to their own country, would never fight to defend all that we hold dear. You'd rather fight for the right to grow Marijuana, than fight to protect our country. You're such a worthless twit.

You asked the ridiculous questions: "Do you know something the rest of the world's intelligence communities do not?"

Coming from you, the question is beyond ridiculous. That's because you haven't a clue as to what the world's intelligence services know or don't know. The CIA knows considerably more than you do about what's going on in Iraq.

>>You have so far failed to respond with any substance to anything I've challenged you on in this forum.

I don't recall ever seeing your name "Ed Harley" before. Have you been 'challenging' me with various aliases? Are you the invisible challenger?

It's indeed curious that you've chosen to defend Saddam Hussein at the expense of America. It's even more curious that you've chosen to demonize America, the country of your birth and the land of opportunitiy.

If you prefer Saddam's dictatorial regime, which you obviously do, please move to Bagdad at your first opportunity. Should you need assistance with moving expenses, I'll be pleased to assist with fund raising.

Not Worth Responding 03.Feb.2003 00:38

Ed Harley

Bush Admirer,

Indeed, I respond always under my true and honest name: Ed Harley. A glance through the archives, or recent threads, will verify that.

It is not worth taking the time to respond to you any further, but I'll just restate here what I've said before:

You have not demonstrated any evidence or logical argument that Iraq is a threat to the American people. If you can present a coherent argument as to what justifies invading Iraq, as opposed to any of the numerous other horrible regimes around the world, I would love to hear it.

Also, you have not given a compelling reason for your cries for war coupled with the fact that you yourself do not serve in the armed forces. You want others to die, but you don't feel strongly enough about it to put yourself on the line. That's true cowardice. You've learn from the best, apparently (Bush, your hero = King of the Chickenshit Chickenhawks, AWOL and draft-dodger).

Lastly, I would argue that it is you who hates America, as you adamantly stand for: disregard for human rights and human life, international law, and (as you have previously stated in numerous posts) you advocate government surveillance, harassment and detainment of political dissidents.

One does not automatically love whatever fool takes control of a bulldozer, just because one loves the machine. That's plain idiocy.

Excellent article 04.Feb.2003 00:59

Patricia

What an excellent article. Amazing how many of these Western-educated indymedia locals know the situation in Iraq better than somebody from Iraq. Talk about cultural imperialism and hypocrisy.