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Guardian article -- please respond!

Hello. Glenn here.

Guardian article pasted below advocating immediate bombing of Iraq was
advertised on the front page. The more responses the Guardian gets the more
it will print and the more likely they will be to commission an article of
the opposite opinion.

Letters really need to go ideally in the next day or so.

The author's thesis: the Iraqi regime is oppressive therefore we should
simply bomb the country and install democracy and everyone will be free and
happy just as they are now in Afghanistan.

Liberal bombers -- dontcha love 'em?



We must attack Iraq and free its people

Geraldine Brooks
Wednesday January 9, 2002
The Guardian

A grey day, a cup of tepid coffee, an unwiped table in a London student
cafeteria. The haggard man sitting opposite me is an Iraqi Kurd, a poet. In
the early 1980s, he wrote a verse whose metaphors were read somewhere in the
Baathist hierarchy as incitement to Kurdish nationalism. He was invited to a
meeting where the yoghurt beverage served to him was laced with thalium -
rat poison. He did not drink all of it, and so he survived to get across the
border, to be treated in a western hospital, to be granted asylum, to live.
In a middle-class house near Wimbledon Common, there is another Iraqi, a
southern Shiite. She wears a scarf around her hair, even in the privacy of
her home. When she goes out, she covers everything but her face and hands.
She is an obstetrician and gynaecologist, married into a family of venerable
Shiite clergy. In the 1980s, every male member of her husband's family
between the ages of 12 and 70 was rounded up and executed.

But we do not talk about this outrage, which is famous and thoroughly
documented. We talk instead about her own work - how she wasn't legally
allowed to prescribe contraceptives of any kind to her patients, who were
meant to serve as baby factories, making men to replace the casualties of
Saddam Hussein's constant wars; how she risked her job, and maybe more than
that, every time she failed to report an illicitly inserted intrauterine
device; how, during a difficult delivery, a patient had moaned that she
hoped her child would be a girl, not a boy who would grow to be a soldier
for Saddam. On hospital rounds the day after, when she came to check on her
patient, a nurse whispered that the security police had taken her away in
the night.

It is one thing to hear stories, and another thing to see the physical
evidence of such crimes. A few days after the Kurdish uprising that followed
the Gulf war, I was in the basement of the office of Amen, Saddam's feared
security police, in the north-eastern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya. Rebellious
Kurds had liberated the complex, which, at street level, was a bland office

Below ground, it was a warren of lightless dungeons, with excrement on the
floor and meat hooks in the ceiling. In one room, a Kurdish guide spoke
passionately and drew me towards something nailed to the wall. I couldn't
quite make out what it was, so I leaned closer as he struck another match.
It was a piece of cartilage - part of a human ear.

Outside, above ground, was a small, demountable building of the kind they
use at my child's elementary school. By the steps was a pile of discarded
women's clothing - Kurdish things, bright-coloured skirts and scarves woven
through with shiny thread. Inside, the room was bare except for a stained
mattress and a medicine cabinet which, when opened, revealed a bottle of
valium. This, my guide explained, was a raping room, where the relatives of
male detainees - mothers, daughters, sisters - the women of his blood, on
whose sexual purity his honour depended, were brought, drugged, and violated
in his presence, in an attempt to break his morale.

The United States-led policy since the Gulf war has been morally
indefensible, from the day Kuwait was liberated until today. When the
victorious allied armies gave Saddam's helicopter gunships permission to
fly, they flew directly north, and I was under them, with thousands of
fleeing civilians trying to reach safety over mined mountain passes into
Turkey. I will never forget the faces of the people around me, who couldn't
understand why President George Bush had encouraged them to rise up against
Saddam, only to betray them so cruelly. Worse things happened to the Shiites
and marsh Arabs of the south.

There would be more betrayals, a decade's worth, when the CIA pulled the
plug on its liaison with the dissident Iraqi National Congress and left its
locally -recruited Kurdish assets defenceless; when it became clear that
Saddam had manipulated the post-war sanctions regime to enrich himself and
his cronies while conveniently keeping what had been the middle class so
destitute they had no energy left for dissent.

To be fair, allied analysts from Colin Powell down did not expect Saddam to
survive a defeat of the magnitude they had inflicted. The metaphor of choice
was the piece of rotting fruit: Saddam's hold on power was tenuous, he would
fall from the tree within days, weeks, months at the most. Now, a decade has
passed, and many are gone from power: two US presidents (George Bush, Bill
Clinton); two British prime ministers (Margaret Thatcher, John Major); two
Arab monarchs (King Fahd, King Hussein); three Israeli leaders (Yitzhak
Rabin, Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu); even Syria's sinewy strongman, Hafez
Asad. Yet Saddam is still there. If there is any joy at all in the business
of war, it is the securing of a better peace.

Even those who deplored the bombing of Afghanistan must celebrate the
re-opening of girl's schools, the restoration of personal liberties of all
kinds, and the prospect of a nation beginning to rebuild. Iraq is a far
richer country than Afghanistan, gifted with oil, water, good farmland,
scenic beauty, rare antiquities. If it were not for the bleak and terrible
regime of Saddam Hussein, it could be the showplace of the region. Now is
the time to make some belated amends for a tragic mistake. Some in the Bush
cabinet want to strike Iraq to safeguard the west from future terrorism.
That is a reason. But there is an even better one. It should be done for the
sake of the Iraqis.

 Geraldine Brooks is a novelist and former Middle East correspondent for
the Wall Street Journal.

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