The way that Iraqis will take possession of war to reach for inner liberation is the decisive element in the story that is unfolding. This will transform the field of political calculation, inside and outside the country.
There are no perfect choices. No one would wish to start from here. The complicity and misdeeds of western states and corporations are indeed extensive, and must in time be paid for.
Yet, overriding all other factors is one, whose immensity no current debate has begun fully to register. The Saddam Hussein regime is the most pathologically violent in the history of the Arab world. Destroying it will be an unequivocal service to the Iraqi people and to humanity.
The revolution that will follow in the minds and hearts of Iraqis – astonishing, liberating, and inevitable - will be definitive justification for the war that has freed them. In Iraqi memory, it will be indelible.
The aftermath will be convulsive. The nature of the dictatorship has prescribed its own fate. Every grotesque monument will fall, every statue in every town will be blown up, every mosaic or document with his inlaid handprint and inscripted blood will be torn apart. Every trace of the monster will be erased from Iraqi life. Soon, not a single Iraqi will be found who confesses the smallest allegiance to his memory.
There will be many dangers in this period. The need for massive food, health, and infrastructural aid from the military victors will be urgent. Territorial integrity and stable governance will require intense efforts of military, political, and civil society cooperation.
Behind them, the political victors, the Iraqi people, will begin the confusing and necessary task of remaking their society – and in an extraordinarily painful process, exploring the meaning of living with trust and freedom in everyday life.
Iraqis are about to reclaim an active role in their own country’s history. They will be seen and heard telling, in their own voices, the unimaginable stories of these unforgettable years.
In the process, they will write a new script that makes sense out of nationalist madness, as Cambodians, Rwandans, and Bosnians have done before them. Every power in the world, everyone concerned with politics, should read, respect, and engage with it.
Originally published as part of a debate on 12 January 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.