Published in The Jerusalem Post on April 6, 2003
There is an urgent need to end the bloodshed in Iraq. The cycle of violence must come to a stop. The international press is unanimous: the U.S. cannot continue to use disproportionate force against the duly elected regime of Saddam Hussein and to deny the Iraqi people their legitimate rights. Occupation is intolerable. It is time for the international community to step in and dictate a “road map” for peace in Iraq. This is what I suggest:
1. Set up a Septet to decree the contours of a solution, without substantially negotiating the matter with any of the involved parties. Announce that this “road map for peace in Iraq” is non-negotiable. Publish this grand map when the politics of the Septet most warrant it; or when Tony Blair most needs it; or when step two, below, occurs – whichever comes first. Members of the Septet might be the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, the U.N. and the Iroquoian Indians.
2. Pressure Saddam Hussein to appoint a prime minister. When this prime minister is appointed from among the coterie of assistants and lackeys that always have been part of Saddam’s inner group, declare victory, announce that “revolutionary reform” has taken place, and proclaim that the regime in Baghdad is now a responsible partner for peace.
3. Urge America to show its good faith towards the new Iraqi regime by taking steps aimed at confidence building. In particular, pressure the U.S. to withdraw its troops from major Iraqi towns and to ease up on roadblocks, on work permits and visas to America for Iraqis, etc. Disregard the fact that Saddam still holds most reigns of power, controls the purse strings, and maintains direct authority over the 101 security services.
4. Work to strengthen the new prime minister, by inviting him to Washington to meet President George W. Bush. It would be a nice touch if they could meet, perhaps, on the White House lawn; a way of celebrating that famous spring day when Arafat and Rabin shook hands in the morning sun out on the grass.
5. Get the U.N. to pass a resolution applauding the appointment of the new Iraqi prime minister, complimenting him on his fine English suits and excellent English diction. The resolution should call upon Washington to “swiftly enable the proper functioning of the new Palestinian Administration (err, excuse me, I meant the new Iraqi Administration) by taking concrete confidence measures meant to demonstrate a commitment to peace on the part of the U.S., and to facilitate the prime minister’s smooth assumption of authority”.
6. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. might usefully give interviews to the press stressing the “significant” fact that this new Iraqi leader is not in favor of shooting at, or using suicide bombers against, American citizens in America; only against American troops and American aid officials occupying Iraq (because such violence harms the Iraqi national cause). Stress the fact that he has extensive contacts with European leaders and American leftists (who presciently knew that it was wrong to go to war against Iraq in the first place); and the fact that relative to Saddam, the new prime minister is a “moderate”. Ignore the prime minister’s past as a Holocaust revisionist.
7. Allow the French and Belgian foreign ministers, our good friends and close allies Messrs. Villepain and Michelle, to travel to Baghdad in order to meet Saddam in his Mukhata headquarters. They should make sure that Saddam is being adequately provided with water, cigarettes, sardines and caviar; and if not, lodge a complaint with American authorities and blast President Bush on CNN. They should also try to help some international peace activists from France and Germany to sneak into Saddam’s Mukhata, so as to provide him with better protection. Set a 35 meter free zone around the Mukhata into which U.S. tanks must not edge, lest the barrels of their guns reach right into the room where Villepain is meeting with Arafat. (There I go again; of course, I meant Saddam).
8. The U.S., U.N., E.U., U.N.E.S.C.O., A.I.D., I.M.F., B.R.D., W.T.O. and other international relief agencies should put together a global package of assistance, totaling billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq from the destruction that Saddam’s regime and America’s war inflicted on the Iraqi people. As for the costs of war incurred by America in order to protect the world from the menace of Saddam’s regime – well, that’s America’s burden alone.
9. In particular, it will be important to rebuild the Iraqi armed forces, especially those security forces needed to maintain law and order. Therefore, Iraqi forces should be cut back from sixteen armies and militias to only four, and then trained and armed by the CIA and French special services. In Baghdad alone, the Iraqis should be allowed to arm a “police force” that is larger than the entire population of Brooklyn, New York – in order to keep the peace, of course.
All hail the road map, right? Then again, perhaps the visionary President Bush doesn’t need such a road map. And come to think of it, neither does Israel.