Another such victory

By Yossi Sarid


Shvat 30, 5765

For joy, for joy: Democracy has won in Iraq. Bush's determination proved itself. There's only one problem: Bush has already won in Iraq too many times, and meanwhile, after so many victories, the "free world" is only losing. There's a duty to be a killjoy.

The liberation of Baghdad in April 2003 was the first victory; On May 1 that year, the American president ceremonially and festively announced "the end of combat," and that became the second victory. In December that year, Saddam Hussein was captured, and the world breathed a little easier - the third victory.

In June 2004, Iraqi sovereignty was handed over to the puppet government of Iyad Allawi, and we still haven't counted the famous (and failed) offensives in Falluja and elsewhere. On the basis of the experience so far, it is recommended to regard the Iraqi elections as a limited achievement. Indeed, maybe it is only an optical illusion of an achievement and should actually be chalked up on the side of the damage that the war in Iraq has already caused, heavy damage and certain damage.

It's well-known that the "smoking gun" is not to be found in Iraq. If so, where's the damage here? It's open to all to see: From now on, every American warning - wolf, wolf - will be met with disbelief. Such a result - the issuance of warnings that impress nobody - is extremely dangerous, especially for Israel. By being mired in the mud of Iraq, the U.S. and its natural and frustrated allies are not able to turn to dealing with countries that are obviously developing weapons of mass destruction. Iran and North Korea are celebrating the American involvement in Iraq, because the American army has stretched its capabilities there as far as it can, and as far as American public opinion is prepared to digest more active military intervention.

The Iraq war, like any war that goes on too long and becomes a quagmire, has dragged America into war crimes. The entire world saw the abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison, the bombings of populated cities and the shooting of wounded men, and the entire world has yet to see, but has heard, about what is happening in Guantanamo and Afghanistan.

The U.S., as leader of the enlightened world, has lost its moral authority, and its preaching is now received with mockery. Every evil monster will claim that its crimes are as pale as the driven snow compared to the crimes of the superpower. Every year, the U.S. State Department issues a report detailing the state of human rights around the world; from now on that document will be regarded with contempt.

So far, the war has cost the administration some $200 billion, so it cannot meet its noble obligations to Africa, and it is highly unlikely if it will meet its meager promises to the victims of the Tsunami. Some 6,000 Africans a day will continue to die of AIDS, and some 3,000 children under the age of 5 will die of malaria every day there. The No. 1 democracy in the world will bitterly disappoint the rest of the world not only in its democratic mission, but also its humanitarian mission, and that too, is the price of this war.

No wonder, then, that the Shi'ites went en masse to the polling stations to determine their sovereignty in Iraq, and the Kurds went en masse on their way to independence, and "their" fractured state will meanwhile continue to be the center of world terror, which will only intensify in the ethnic and religious contradictions. According to the emerging results of the vote, the day is not far off when there will be a religious Shi'ite state there. And it won't be the first time in history that a democracy seemingly gives birth to a monster.

Nonetheless, if those elections pave the way and the hearts for an "honorable withdrawal" from the Iraqi adventure, that would be good. America will declare another victory and leave the valley of the shadow of death, and the world will finally be able to deal with the real threats facing it - from the nuclear threats to the diseases, from the terror to the tyranny, from genocide to hunger.