A [Friendly] Suggestion to Ordinary Iraqis
It seems a bit arrogant to address an entire population and offer even a [friendly] suggestion. However, if that population, the Iraqis, are the ones that have suffered [together with the Palestinians] more than any other population in recent history, and if the person offering the suggestion belongs to a population, the Greek population, that has gone through a similar martyrdom in an earlier time, then a friendly suggestion, offered in humility, could, at least, be useful.
The thoughts expressed below have been in my mind for a long time. Today [Dec. 15], the courageous and symbolic public act of the young Iraqi journalist, who threw his shoes against George W. Bush, demands that these thoughts should, also, be expressed in public.
Whether the US occupying army leaves Iraq in 2011, as promised by Bush, or in another date, is irrelevant for the problem examined here. History tells us that the barbarous occupiers always either withdraw voluntarily or are thrown out by the Resistance of the occupied population. In Iraq, the US occupier, in reality, is being thrown out by the heroic Resistance of the Iraqis.
During any occupation there is a [usually very small] part of the occupied population that collaborates with the occupiers. The men and women that exhibit such a despicable behavior are, most of the time, cowardly, corrupt individuals, who are servile to any power out of fear, self-interest, etc. In essence they are, generally, not very bright people, as they collaborate with the occupier, knowing that someday the occupiers will leave and their fellow countrymen will punish them. Except, in the case that the collaborators know that the occupiers, even after they leave, will be able to control the government of the supposedly liberated country.
So, how should the Iraqis treat the collaborators with the US occupiers, when the occupiers leave? They can do what the Sandinistas did with the murderous individuals, [military, policemen, etc] that did the dirty work for Somoza, the Nicaraguan dictator. That is, let them leave the country and allow the US to use them as killers of the population that let them leave. Eventually, they became the"Contras", the notorious proxy killers doing the dirty work for the US.
Another option is to do what in history has been "engraved" with a terrible word: the "guillotine". That is, execute the collaborators. This would be the worst possible solution for the difficult problem of how to deal with the collaborators. The immediate result would be to allow the former occupiers [the US in the Iraqi case] and their fellow-travelers [the European Union] to claim that their barbarous occupation was justified.
The morally right way to deal with the Iraqi collaborators, would be to let the existing judicial system or if that is inadequate to let a new judicial system, approved collectively by the Iraqi population, decide the fate of those obnoxious individuals marked as collaborators. The "legalistic" trick [see, also, below] of claiming that one cannot judge someone on the basis of a law established after he or she committed a crime, would have Hitler continue his life as a respectable "gentleman", as the British and the US leaders described Hitler in the mid-1930s. Also, there would not have been a Nuremberg Tribunal.
In Iraq there are hundreds of thousands of collaborators. This fact seems to compound the problem. It is up to the ordinary Iraqis to solve the problem on the basis of reason and according to the needs of the local situation. There are "degrees" of collaboration and of seriousness of the crimes committed for the "benefit" of the occupier. For example, the Iraqis that this very minute are torturing the young journalist who threw his shoe at Bush, shouting that this was done "for the widows and orphans" that the son of Barbara Bush generated in Iraq, should have a punishment proportional to those degrees. The degree of collaboration with the US occupier in this case is very high and the degree of the seriousness of their crime, torture, is close to maximum. On the other hand a man, say, with six children that served as a soldier or a policeman under the Americans to feed his family and who did not commit any crimes, should be treated very differently. And so on...
What is of paramount importance, is that the Iraqis should punish the collaborators. The legal technicalities that will be applied in this process of punishment are secondary. If they avoid to do that, then these collaborators will end up as tools of the US and the "liberated" Iraqi society will be poisoned from then on.
Here is an example of what might happen if the collaborators are left unpunished. Greece, my country, has gone through such a tragedy twice during the last 64 years [1944-2008]. The first was from 1944 to 1949. During the Nazi occupation [1941-1944], an insignificant part of the Greek society collaborated with the Nazi occupiers. Especially, a strange breed of men who formed what the Nazis called the "security battalions", whose killing of their fellow-Greeks was so brutal that surprised even the Nazis. After the Nazi occupiers left, these collaborators under the protection first of the British up to 1947 and then under the protection of the US from 1947 to this day were incorporated in the ruling classes of the Greek society. Their children and grandchildren are now members of the Greek elite.
The second tragedy was during the US instigated Greek dictatorship of 1967 to 1974. The members of the dictatorship were actually proxy agents of a foreign power, the US. Not only they themselves were collaborators of that foreign power but ordinary Greeks who did the dirty work for the dictators are considered collaborators. After the "fall" of the dictatorship, the Greek people demanded that the collaborators be punished. That is where the "legalistic tricks" were forced down the throats of the Greeks by the US proxies of the Greek government. The judiciary announced that the mass of the collaborators could not be prosecuted because their crimes were "instantaneous" [repeat: "instantaneous"!], whatever that means, that is if one kills "instantaneously" he is not...guilty. The mass of the collaborators were not prosecuted.
[Parenthesis: Yesterday (Dec. 15, 2008) the rightist ruling party of Greece, appropriately named "New Democracy", as if democracy is a new French perfume, concluded that its members who were involved in the million-Euros scandal with the monks of a Christian monastery were not guilty, because they bore only "objective" responsibility and not "subjective" responsibility, again whatever that means. End of the Parenthesis]
However, the pressure from below forced the post-dictatorship rulers to prosecute a few of the top military dictators and the most "prominent" torturers. The result is that even today there are innumerable former collaborators of the dictatorship that are dispersed in all parts of the Greek ruling apparatus; the military, the police, the judiciary, the civil service, etc. who exert a significant, some times decisive, influence on the life of the Greek population. This holds especially for the judiciary.
The Iraqis can avoid falling into this trap that the Greeks have fallen into. It is time that the Iraqis start realizing the importance of the problem of the collaborators and initiate a wide discussion among themselves, so that they should not have the fate of the Greeks whose teenagers[!] were forced today to revolt against this dishonest society, after 64 years of control by the US, and demand: "Bread Education Liberty!". Please, turn on your television sets.
Also, it is reasonable to expect that this discussion and effort to solve the problem of the collaborators could unite the ordinary Iraqis and help them see things in a more realistic, calm, and honest manner. For the last two centuries the Anglo-Saxons have applied their immoral canon of "Divide and rule!". And that is what the Bush criminal gang is applying on the Iraqis today. Do not let them succeed!
Finally, to the Iraqis has fallen the duty [or the privilege] to demand that W. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice [a black woman!], and all the other war criminals should go through a "Nuremberg Tribunal" and pay for the death and torture of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children.
P.S. When the ordeal of your courageous young compatriot, the journalist who threw his shoes, is over and he is free again, please relay to him my deepest respect.