Flavin’s Corner March 21, 2003

The Chore of Babylon

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.  And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.  For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fortification with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
Revelations 18:1-3.

Hussein is long said to have literary ambitions. Although he did not attend school until he was at least eight, he later read voraciously, taking a particular interest in biographies of historical figures, including Joseph Stalin.

With the help of a prolific ghost writer, he has penned scores of articles and tracts on a variety of subjects ranging from weighty discussions on socialism to advice on personal hygiene: men should bathe once a day and women twice daily.
From “New Iraqi literary king is not-quite anonymous” by Michael Theodoulou, Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 11, 2001.

Operation Iraqi Freedom has begun.  It’s a rather bland mission name (as opposed to Persian Gulf War II, Son of Desert Storm, The Mother-In-Law of All Battles, or The Despot Crusade), though by whatever name it’s known it marks the end of Saddam’s reign.  The chore of Babylon is before us, much more needs to be accomplished, and at least we’ve done this.

The voices of dissent, from naked anti-war protesters to cavalier quips by Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and other pseudo-pundits, are now superfluous and ineffectual.  Death is a professional and is busy in the land between rivers and doesn’t listen to personal opinions from amateurs.  “No Blood for Oil” is an unrealistic, immature, and ignorant rally-cry.  Oh, if I could summon a jinn, I’d request that all those who invest time and money against Operation Iraqi Freedom turn their attention to helping the homeless, assisting the elderly, or nurturing children in need.  In a free society, of course, it’s not against the law to waste one’s time and money. 

Saddam Hussein, if he still lives, has no significant defenders other than relatives and fellow Iraqi thugs.  I’d bet even His Holiness Pope John Paul II privately believes Saddam is scum with Scuds.  Outspoken countries like France, Russia, Germany, China, and Liechtenstein have expressed concern that Operation Iraqi Freedom is nothing short of a regime change with the votes of 300,000 armed American, British, and Australian troops.  They hold that there should have be a better way.  There wasn’t. 

Criticism that this mission was preemptive is groundless.  It was long overdue, perhaps by as much as twelve years, and surely expected after the recent UNMOVIC fiasco.  The rules were changed on 9-11 and America will no longer tolerate vituperating threats from regimes and organizations with the ability to follow through.  Saddam’s threats were too much to be borne further. 

It’s reported that after Operation Iraqi Freedom began Saddam issued a statement which ended: “Long live Iraq.  Long live Palestine.  God is great.”  Palestine?

I was in fourth grade when Sen. Robert Kennedy was assassinated supposedly to call attention to the plight of the Palestinian people.  I didn’t understand what Bobby had to do with the Mideast then and I’m not sure I do today.  In 1978 Vanessa Redgrave caused a ruckus with her pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist comments at the Oscars.  To her credit she attempted to differentiate between anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist, though it was lost on many.  Palestine?  A Greek place-name for Philistia (Hebrew palash; rolling or migratory), as in David and Goliath?  A contingent of the mysterious eastern Mediterranean confederacy known as the Sea Peoples took control of a few towns in Canaan some 3200 years ago and Saddam thinks more about Palestine than taking care of his own people.  Right.  And Osama bin Laden, born in Saudi Arabia and empowered in Afghanistan, also seems to place Palestine before other matters.  Huh?

I believe someday soon there will be a separate Palestinian state.  Israel will pay reparations, Palestinians will renounce suicide-bombings and recognize the right of Israel to exist, and it will have nothing to do with religion.

Operation Iraqi Freedom is not about oil, as OPEC has promised that oil production levels will remain the same and much of America’s oil purchases now come from non-Mideast sources.  Nor is it an attack against Islam by the so-called infidels, as Saddam is to religion what Freedom Fries are to haute cuisine.  It’s about stopping a terrorist and liberating the Iraqi people.  Or, if need be, liberating the Iraqi people and stopping a terrorist.  Fear will likely continue from divers threats both domestic and foreign, but at least we’ve done this and Saddam will threaten no more. 

Sometime between 3500 and 3300 BCE a group of people, in what is now Iraq, took notational abstract designs used to identify and count trade goods and invented writing.  With the technology of writing and some fine farmlands surrounding the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, civilization arose and history began.  After over two thousand years of watching the stars and planets and trying to understand their movements, mathematical systems were developed which were later used by the Greeks to begin the practice and methodology of science.  And writing and science continued in what is now Iraq.  New grains exported into the Mediterranean gave rise to various pasta dishes like lasagna.  Work with distilling essential oils for perfumes and unguents made alcoholic spirits possible.  And Baghdad also preserved lost Greek works when Europe was playing censor, as well as contributing to such notable epics as The Arabian Nights or A Thousand Nights and a Night.  In what is now Iraq there is history and wonder in the air once more.  The historical romance of Saddam is shelved and is already history. 

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida without a fig-leaf,

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