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Libyan Writer Ghoma

Saturday, 24 December, 2005


By: Ghoma

        Imagine for a moment, if by any stroke of nature's scarce flukes or many tragedies, some of those hoity-toity gaggle, the pillars of the old regime -the monarchy- and their spawns. These hatchlings, who're now, middle-agers, the Tripoli College [British affiliated High School] stuck ups, and who, after all the years of exile, have kept contact going along with the plotting of how to avenge their lost glories, finally have succeeded in persuading the powers-that-be to help their come-back. As the invasion proceeds they descend along on the country like flies-excuse me I meant ticks!- on top of tanks, carriers, and air-force bombardiers. At the crushing of the regime and the total destruction of the country, the old pals find themselves plugged into the power seats and have to decide the fate of their predecessors, the exponents of the vanquished regime, who were responsible -if for no other crimes- of kicking the old patronage out of their ensconced privileges which they thought were part of their birthrights, only to appropriate those same privileges for the new crop of the guard. Proceedings, trials, and all the proverbial 9-yards, more or less the same show the now disgraced lot had inaugurated their take-over with, will be held once again and the cycle continues with new characters but the same plot, few different touches here and there nonetheless in substance very little more than skin deep changes! The game, if we can call such put-on a game, will be once again, played according to the customary and expected rules and protocols -winners take all, losers lose everything property and life!- set in motion since the beginning of this area's time. Some may call this justice, a la Hammurabi, Moses, and the rest's recommendations [eye-for-an-eye]. It's certainly a form of reckoning whether it can be subsumed under the category of justice at all depends on the expected chances of surviving such a trial! Chances are, who ever comes into its grinding maw, its unfortunate victims, will have no more than what the proverbial "china man" had gotten in 19th century frontier America? The kangaroo trial has its verdict(s) in place way before the tribunal's show's kicked-off! And once more there will be the usual popular sigh: alas! it's true justice had passed on along with Omar bin elKhattab's.

        Now repeat the same thing for most of the names we hear about since the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Allawi, Chalabi, Mahdi, Makiya, Pachachi, Kubba, Rubayie, et al. pals since the days of Baghdad college [A Jesuit run English High School established in the 1930's to educate the sons of the privileged and rich bourgeoisie who wouldn't have endured the separation if they were to send them away to Swiss or British boarding schools!], the cabal went on to continue their education in Europe and the USA and some of them have prolonged further their stays so they could persuade their eager old masters to extend their beneficent acts, to come along and take them back to Baghdad, to where they were before the ignorant gang of grunts and their beduin and tribal allies took over their God's willed and King's blessed cozy and rightful places. The lot is of no humility freaks! But "tough guys" who'd not hesitate to sell their mothers to the first buyer if that's the only way to get a job done! If their sojourn in the West has taught them anything at all, it certainly taught them also to always shoot for the stars - to just get a piece on the ground after all the required haggles and bargains- and only big bangs attract the attention of an already noisy world. Perhaps they've not planned it to the last detail but certainly they wanted the come back to be in style, as perhaps never had been done or seen before; for not only they wanted to get back what they'd lost but most importantly to revenge their never forgotten bitter defeat and subsequent humiliations. Indeed style it was! They came back, in a very unique fanfare of all stylistic mannerisms, in lock, stock, and barrel; and in lock step with the invading armies in a season which history certainly will record as the hottest and most destructive springs that Baghdad ever witnessed since the days of perhaps the Mongol invasions! A homecoming of sorts that turned into a nightmare come true. The devastations were total and the country was literally in ruins. A century of society's, state's, and infrastructures's building was up in flames in matter of days! When the fires kindled a bit down and the smokes slowed as much, the way was then cleared to hunt the old ruling gang(s) and indeed along with all who were involved from near or far with the Baathist regime, to be chased, like stray dogs! and captured dead or alive; dead if they were lucky, unlucky if they were captured alive; all, dead and alive, to be delivered in the hands of their old and new nemeses who're anxiously waiting for their revenge -the freshly returned vindictive group; the pedigreed pals, sons of what they claim to have been once the notable families of Baghdad. In all of this, there's not much to surprise the observer, the only novelty is the willingness of the clerics to get along with the invasion and occupation and to bless them as long as sectarian-tribal parties canmkeep their own militias and be free to further dupe the drowsy multitude with the equivalent of selling them the snake juice as remedy - some of them, a la popes of the Middle Ages will even sell indulgences to heaven, from the real or freshly invented horrors of persecutions through the ages, the latest of which were under their old patron and now nemeses Saddam and his gangs of Baathists!

        Of course the masses are always gullible when it comes to promises of otherworldly bliss. "Hungry and found grits!" Though their presumed leaders, the newly installed puppets are not as bright as their real or embellished resumes would have them, otherwise they'd not have accepted to do the dirty work of the occupiers; or if they've to, then they would have shot those thugs -Saddam and his gang- on sight ( a la Mussolini or Ceausescu) and saved themselves and the rest of the world of seeing the bandwagon of justices stuck upside down, in the sands and dirty quagmires of Baghdad! These folks, the new masters of Baghdad, are truly showy types! They insist on revenge in style [Not even a la Slobodan Milosevic in the Hague mired in the foggy harangues of International jurisdiction and Laws], but something resembling Nuremberg, or Adolf Eichmann Trials! To saturate the airwaves of the new justice in Baghdad. But as they say "the winds blow from directions which are not favorable to the ships" after more than two years of the occupational and otherwise authorities's gropings and pokings around, not much, it appears, was found to pin the sons of a gun down to or to indict them with, except the pains of a small and lost little village: Dujail [the name is an ironic coincidence!] from which a failed assassination attempt was launched! The question then becomes not only technical, if not moral, of who's more right to prosecute whom(the traitors or the dictators?) but how to put an end to these tragicomic cycles? How to safe history from being raped, oops! repeated? And when true and sincere trials by the whole country will take place for all those played havocs with its people's destinies and their country's resources? If one expects that a gang of traitors and their collaborators, under severe conditions of brutal foreign occupation and quasi civil war, to administer any sort of justice, even to to a gangster like Saddam and his band, will be disappointed? No true trial nor any form of justice can be obtained, under the present conditions of occupation and its likewise engendered turmoil, until real independence and a legitimate authority be in place.

        A homecoming nightmare come true! Of all places, these days, the last one on earth, is Baghdad which can afford to attract more attention to an already heavy dose of notoriety as the killing arena and scorched fields for more than two decades now and the count is still going on. To add salt to injury, as if the daily trials are not enough, another trial has just opened its proceedings, that of Saddam and his cohorts! Iraq today is an occupied and totally ruined, a country. It's in total chaos with no legitimate and functioning government in place. In short, a country in shambles! Despite all that, still, willy nilly, somebody or someone deemed it necessary to start another one of those ancient Greek tragedies that were matched, in not so distant past, by one of those Kafkaesque fantasies.

        In Frantz Kafka's The Trial , the main protagonist, Joseph K., a banker, finds himself, suddenly, one morning, facing charges that were never explained to him. Though, isolated and lonely, Joseph K. must defend himself against an impenetrable and incomprehensible judicial system of an impersonal bureaucracy. As one of the characters described it: "You may object that it is not a trial at all; you are quite right, for it is only a trial if I recognize it as such."

        In the Greek tragedy, instead, the protagonist suffers some serious misfortunes which are a result of the hero's actions. If the sufferings - which are usually brought on by a combination of human and non-human actions- point to the human condition of inborn vulnerability; in Kafka's nightmares, however, the dehumanization (of a man who finds himself persecuted and put to death by an inscrutable agencies of unfathomable court of law) expressed the alienation of modern industrial society.

        The reason I bring these snippets of world literature is because somehow "Saddam's Trial" calls to mind all of these plus some! One asks: Are you kidding? No, I'm not! The law of untended consequences has it that a fallen gangster and his thugish dredges of their society find themselves on the world stage as victims and tragic figures! David and Goliath caliber! Think about the details: a mighty power drives an arrogant but ignorant dictator literally into a hole in the grounds only to capture him and put him on display to the world's screens; after a prolonged period of imprisonment and interrogations the power demurs on the case and shuns direct prosecutions, delivers him to his old enemies and present tormentors to decide his fate. A script for a thriller? Such a scenario, if it was not true, would defy even the best of Hollywood's script writers to match! Not because of its difficulty but rather because of its bizarre turns and twists, the unfolding thing. The power that went after the dictator couldn't find what to indict him with or for! These kinds of jumps, bounces, loops, and spirals are rich grounds for the convinced and skeptic alike to let their itchy fantasies roam far and wide -there's something fishy somewhere up and/or down the road. Which, will lead to all kinds of fantasies and speculations. Remember as they say the first victim in war is the truth. When the fog of war is gone, the smokescreens cleared, and all the excuses which led to the present histrionics have been exhausted what is left with will perhaps puzzle and amuse our successors or their nexts. It'd not be a farfetched idea that the whole mise-en-scene, we see unfolding in front of our eyes, was dramatized and the ingredients have been fried, baked, and cooked longer than the stew can take it and still be eatable. The result, as will be seen in hindsight, a soapy pap distasteful to the young and nauseating to the rest. One just wonders what will happen if all the alleged intelligence cherrypicking turns out to be only a polite way of saying, a bunch of hooeys, purely fabricated lies? Will the villains of today be vindicated, and will their accusers be turned into their own accused? Sound bizarre! Circuitous? Dog chasing its own tail! All of these may come to pass, just stay tuned, more is coming!

        A trial of this caliber comes as end to an ordeal and the beginning of a new period. It's part of the catharsis a society which has undergone traumatic upheavals needs in order to nurse its wounds and deal with its shattered psyche. That's to put a closure to a cycle. It's to say that's the end and this is the beginning. But, alas, Iraq is still far from such steps. Not when it's still bleeding and fast losing its consciousness. It's in no conditions to look back or punish whoever got her into this state. It's to be hoped that cool heads, if there still left any, will prevail. Only when the Iraqis reach the point of complete exhaustion will they start to look for what they all have in common, what brings them together, rather than to what sets them apart, and thereafter a new dawn may be in sight. Only then a trial to Saddam and the Baathist regime can take place. The trials main objectives, beyond meting punishments to whoever deserve them, would be to try to deal with the burning question: Is Iraq the way it is because of the way Saddam (and his regime) is or is Saddam (and his regime) the way he's because of Iraq the way it is?

        How history will deal with the whole mess, us included, at this point is a rhetorical question. Given the area's drowsiness, awareness of history and what it'll tell is beyond the concerns and imaginations of many, if not, all of the Arabs! For sure it'll be a harsh judgment. After all the nightmares that took place in the last five centuries or so, but particularly in the first half of the last century, the area yet has to get it, that's, to learn one or two damned things about how the world ticks and turns. It wouldn't help when the 21+ states and 300+ millions souls are still warped in their time own time and pace! Only in the Middle East, to get rid of a tinpot dictator -such an act is usually a far less dramatic event, and it happens almost everyday of the week somewhere or other in the world- one must blow the whole place up in the air. Where else in the world people have given up on the whole country to change its political set-up or make-up, as the Iraqis have done? Where else in the world, except in Arabstans -the receiving end of the world's contempt and disapproval, such draconian measures of humiliations, harassments, middling in the affairs, and kicking around, chasing like dogs, lecturing on condescendingly, etc., every day of the week are shoved down their throats without much ado from people or government? One wonders whether there's anything still working upstairs among all those teeming millions their varied and variegated clownish attires?

        Iraq today is coming apart at the seams. No more Iraqis but only an aggregate of Shiites, Sunnas, or Kurds, who after thousands of years still have not yet learned the art of living together, but each against all, and all against each. What we see today taking place in Iraq fits, exactly, what Fanon had found in his classical study of colonialism and its accompanying phenomenon, internalized oppression, in action! Otherwise how one explains the 25+ millions of Iraqis being herded like sheep into voting booths according to Uncle Sam's orders and schedule? Are the Iraqis minors, dumb stupids or only inferiors to be treated like cattle driven, right and left, according to designs not of their own and forces beyond their grasp? And why all the jazz about demo-cracy when it's in fact a gun-ocracy run amok? How could one talk about democracy in such an environment where life is cheaper than the bullet which snuffs it out?


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