I Am Iraq

June 2006By Vince Hodgins

Vince Hodgins was seconded to the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe in 1952 to serve in Operation Paperclip, extracting German scientists held captive by the Soviets. He attended the Second Session of Vatican II in 1963 as a lay aide to Paul Emile Cardinal Leger of Montreal. He served variously from 1970 to 1996 for the Mexican government as Director of Foreign Security and Intelligence, Director General of the Mexican National Tourist Council, special representative at the UN, and President of the Mexican Chamber of Commerce in the U.S.

I am Iraq. I am old, and I am sad. Iraq is pronounced EE-RAQ, not EYE-RAQ. Actually, Iraq is not my real name. This name was given to me by the British at the end of World War I when, having defeated the Ottoman Empire (usually referred to as the Turks) with the help of the French and other allies, including the U.S., which joined in toward the end, they carved up the ancient Middle East, and created kingdoms for those whom they believed to be their friends. It was now payday for the Hashemi desert family in "Iraq," who had helped them against the Turks.

East of the Jordan River they created the kingdom of Jordan; on the Arabian peninsula they created the kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and I became the kingdom of Iraq. Syria also became a kingdom, under French control. All this was done in accordance with a so-called League of Nations "mandate." They had no problem finding suitable profit-motivated family members to become kings, and the dynasties they created still rule in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. I was a kingdom for some 40 years. My first King was Feisal I, who had originally been appointed King of Syria; he survived, with British support, until his death in 1933. Since there was no apparent heir, I was ruled by a regency until Feisal's grandson, who became Feisal II, took over in 1953. Kings who are appointed usually have rivals and enemies, and Feisal II was assassinated in 1958.

But please allow me to go back to earlier and better days. I said that I was very old; in fact, I am one of the oldest countries on earth. Would you believe that some 10,000 years ago I was very beautiful, very rich, and very fertile? I was so fertile and so beautiful that the Supreme Creator, God, Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, selected me as the location for the Garden of Eden, which you may have read about in the Bible, or in the Q'ran. I was blessed with fertile soil, two great rivers, and wetlands teeming with fish. My people were highly creative and very industrious. I was called Babylonia some 6,000 years ago, and my Chaldean people invented the wheel -- initially the potter's wheel, which led to many other uses, including transportation. My Sumerian people invented the first concepts of converting sound to visual form; they invented writing, and you can still see and read their work in museums throughout the world. Their system or style of writing is called cuneiform, from the Latin cuneus, a wedge -- the basic shape of their alphabet. My beautiful capital city was a center of mathematics, music, and culture; you may have heard of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. I have been called the "cradle of civilization."

And I produced many great sons. A thousand years ago, the Khalifa of Baghdad was the supreme leader of all Islam -- from Mecca to the Pillars of Hercules and the great Islamic cities of Córdoba and Granada -- but the greatest of all my sons was Abram or Abraham, the father of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

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Back to June 2006 Issue

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"Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) pronounced the war on Iraq to be unjust. “

I haven’t been able to find the document in which America is specifically named and condemned by a pope for deposing Hussein and fighting the insurgents. Also, the papal document that excommunicates all Catholic American leaders who voted for this “unjust” action.

Can someone help?
Posted by: rdohanian
July 18, 2006 03:58 PM EDT
When the U.S. led the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Cardinal Ratzinger expressed his opposition. Even before American soldiers were on Iraqi soil, he made it clear — along with Pope John Paul II — that the U.S. invasion was not morally justified. "It should never be the responsibility of just one nation to make decisions for the world, so we must still work with the U.N. The fact that the United Nations is seeking the way to avoid war seems to me to demonstrate with enough evidence that the damage would be greater than the values one hopes to save."
In an April 2003 interview with the Italian monthly 30 Giorno, Cardinal Ratzinger clarified his position, which was shared by Pope John Paul II:

"…reasons sufficient for unleashing a war against Iraq did not exist. First of all it was clear from the very beginning that proportion between the possible positive consequences and the sure negative effect of the conflict was not guaranteed. On the contrary, it seems clear that the negative consequences will be greater than anything positive that might be obtained. Without considering then that we must begin asking ourselves whether as things stand, with new weapons that cause destruction that goes well beyond the groups involved in the fight, it is still licit to allow that a “just war” might exist."

Beyond being an explication of the practical application of the Church’s “just war” theory, Cardinal Ratzinger’s words also — significantly — speak of respect for the dignity of the human person without regard to race or creed as the highest Christian value. This is not only the new Pope’s personal conviction, it is also the teaching of the Church, one which Benedict XVI can be expected to vigorously uphold.

Posted by: nortemp
July 19, 2006 11:21 AM EDT
After the United States began its attacks against Iraq, FOX News reported the immediate comments of Pope John Paul II, made in an address at the Vatican to members of an Italian religious television channel, Telespace: "When war, as in these days in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is ever more urgent to proclaim, with a strong and decisive voice, that only peace is the road to follow to construct a more just and united society."

In the weeks and months before the U.S. attacked Iraq, not only John Paul, but also one Cardinal and Archbishop after another at the Vatican spoke out against a "preemptive" or "preventive" strike. They declared that the just war theory could not justify such a war. Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran said that such a "war of aggression" is a crime against peace. Archbishop Renato Martino, used the same words in calling the possible military intervention a "crime against peace that cries out vengeance before God."
Posted by: nortemp
July 19, 2006 11:37 AM EDT
I'm against the war in Iraq, and I am in agreement with the NOR's position 100%. But this history is ridiculous and calls the scholarship of their position inot question. I dare say it makes the whole NOR look absurd.

Alexander did not create the Potlemaic dynasty in Egypt, it was under him and at the oasis in Siwa he was proclaimed a god. He had no intention of giving it to anyone else. The Ptolemaic dynasty was created by Alexander's general Ptolemy after Alexander died and his generals carved out kingdoms from his empire, such as Selucus who formed the Selucid dynasty which menaced the Maccabees in the Bible.

Cyrus did in fact conquer Mesopotamia and he ruled it well during his lifetime. While Alexander was alive it was firmly in his control. When he was dead it was in Selucid control. The Parthians ruled Babylon well for many years until the Sassanids did it better. The Romans barely touched the lands of Mesopotamia. Pompey's reign was in Syria. Furthermore the Crassus affair only proved that even the world's best legions could be beaten when lead by a banker. When Octavian led the legions into Mesopotamia after he defeated Antony, the Parthians capitulated quickly, and they sent the Romans tribute for 300 years. In fact it was the Parthians that beat Crassus, NOT native Mesopotamians. Finally there is no comparison to what the Romans attempted to bring and what America is attempting. The Romans made no offer of democracy to conquered nations. At best you could be a client kingdom and send taxes to Rome, while keeping a few denarii for yourself. The Romans did not give out citizneship to anyone, least of all to eastern peoples whom they regarded as barbarians. Neither Pompei nor Crassus brought democracy to Mesopotamia, Pompei never even stepped foot there, he got no further than Damascus. The Romans tried to conquer it for gold and glory. American zionists like Bush think they are protecting Israel and ensuring the rebuilding of the Temple and the second coming and the rapture and all that jazz.

This is most important, when Islam took over they slaughtered a good amount of the population. The Arabs were also foreign rulers. They conquered and they are still there. The author makes no mention of the fact that the Ottomans murdered even fellow Muslims in Babylon and ruthlessly plundered the land to with taxes and downright theft to support their campaigns against Constantinople. We should also rememebr the Pre-Ottoman Baghdad Khalifas killed many Christians who tried to escape to the Eastern Roman Empire, and killed alot of Jews.
The war in Iraq was indeed unjust, and you don't need to try and canonize the land or its people to drive the point home with stupid historically inaccurate hack job articles like this! It calls the general scholarship of your paper into question. Please, don't post this absurdity, stick to what you do best. This isn't it.
Posted by: rgrant0102
July 13, 2006 04:11 AM EDT
One correction: I said the Romans didn't give citizenship to anyone; I meant anyone outside of Italy at that time. Jews would later get this option, and St. Paul was among them. Posted by: rgrant0102
July 13, 2006 04:14 AM EDT
NEWSFLASH: The well-respected “Catholic Culture” website has recently reviewed the “New Oxford Review” website.


Under the category of FIDELITY they give NOR a “CAUTION”. One of the reasons they give for this is because the "[NOR] site contains articles which misrepresent the offical teaching of the Church on the War in Iraq.”

They go on to explain:

“...the official Church has not declared the war in Iraq to be unjust. The determination of the justification of any particular war is outside of the prudential judgment of the Church, though she may defend certain moral principles involved in war. This judgment is left to the principle authority of the States or Countries involved, who evaluate the particular circumstances given them, acknowledge the guidance of the Church, and seek the common good known through the principles of Nature and Grace. Therefore the laity is left to legitimately support or reject this war as just or unjust, because of the difficulty involved in evaluating the circumstances and measures taken.”
Posted by: rdohanian
June 23, 2006 11:22 AM EDT
"Catholic Culture" is wrong. Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) pronounced the war on Iraq to be unjust.
Furthermore, pre-emptive and preventive war is unjust by St. Augustine.
Posted by: revesz
June 26, 2006 06:24 PM EDT
This is reminiscent of Jane Fonda on the anti-aircraft gun telling us how wonderful and pure the North Vietnamese were and how we would all someday pray to be communists.

Now that the NOR has sanctified the Iraqi soil, anathematized the "heretics" for their transgressions against Just War "Doctrine," and set Sadam Hussein and his genocidal underlings up for canonization as martyrs, I'm waiting for the editorial in which they tell us that we will all someday pray to be Iraqi Sunnis who torture and behead their opponents after being deposed for mass murder.

I guess Berkeley eventually gets to the best of those who live there. NOR has gone from a rational, if deficient, invocation of Just War theory to a delusion normally reserved to the American Left. Maybe after all these years the editors of NOR are longing for the protests of the '60s--yearning to join their generational comrades at the demonstrations and are just generating a quasi-conservative cover for doing so.

Posted by: tommytomorrow
June 10, 2006 08:41 PM EDT
This essay is dishonest. First of all Mr. Hodgins former work for the Mexican government as head of their security force during the days when the PRI ruled Mexico with ruthlessness and repression, sustaining a socialistic, corrupt and authoritarian regime is hardly a high note on his resume. Second, Mr. Hodgins history is selective and flawed. Mesopotamia has seen many peoples, nations, kingdoms and rulers. But some of the conquerors were not as failed as he makes them out to be. Actually Mesopotamia ceased to have a native independent government after the invasion of Sargon and from then on a successive parade of conquerors and rulers followed for thousands of years. Mr. Hodgins also forgets that Sargon was the greatest king of his time and Hammurabi one of the greatest law givers. He also forgets that Babylonia was not a nation in our own modern sense but rather a city-state competing with other Mesopotamian cities for supremacy. Of the original population nothing remains as it mixed with Acadians, Arameans, Chaldeans, Persians, Greeks, Caananeans and other peoples in the inexorable passage of time and nations. To ascribe to Mesopotamia or Iraq a national identity going back to pre-historic times is a fallacy. Actually Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Turks were very successful in their conquest. Look at the Turks five hundred year domination or the Arabs complete triumph on linguistic and cultural areas, Also Mr. Hodgins glosses rather quickly over the Muslim conquest. The people from Mesopotamia did not “adopt” Islam as their religion, they were conquered by imperialistic Arabs who imposed their religion, culture, language and laws over the native population at the time. And he makes it sound as if the Turks were benevolent Muslim liberators who gently formed a pan-Islamic league, rather than the blood thirsty, subjugating empire that ruled the region for five centuries. And let us remember too that besides all their great contributions to civilizations, the Mesopotamians invented crucifixion and impalement, genocide, tribal war and imperialism. Mr. Hodgins learned well from the Mexican education establishment to falsify history and use it to their political ends. Posted by: ragcia149
May 27, 2006 04:31 PM EDT
Aw, Tommy Tomorrow, you don't have to be from Berkeley -- I am not -- to realize the foolishness of the US invading sand pits in the Middle East.

Moreover, some of the most vocal critics of Bush's neocon war in the Middle East are traditional conservatives such as Patrick Buchanan, Robert Novak, Taki, et al. See The American Conservative (amconmag.com) for a truly conservative (as opposed to Neocon) political perspective on the Iraqi invasion.

It is far from honest to suggest that either New Oxford Review or The American Conservative (not from Berkeley) has canonized Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Ladan and his blokes.

Moreover, NOR (and TAC) have an ally in Pope Benedict XVI (not from Berkeley) and had one in Pope John Paul II (not from Berkeley) when it comes to interpreting the Just War doctrine vis-a-vis Iraq.
Posted by: nortemp
June 12, 2006 10:28 AM EDT
I just think that the USA needs to focus on those who really hurt us on 9-11-01. It was not Iraq, but Osama bin Laden and his allies, i.e. Saudi Arabia. But the Saudis are F.O.G. -- friends of George (Bush)Senior and Junior. Let us become energy independent and forget the Middle East and be careful of who we admit to the USA.
Posted by: joe sweeney
June 13, 2006 11:19 PM EDT
Are we not imperialist? Are we not maintaining a country far from our shores? Posted by: juanescareno
June 06, 2006 02:02 PM EDT
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