If antiwar protesters succeed

To publish an unsigned opinion piece is an exception to the Monitor's policy. But the views expressed here, if put with a name, could endanger the writer's extended family in Baghdad. The author - known to Monitor staff - was born and raised in Iraq. Now a US citizen with a business that requires extensive world travel, the author is in frequent touch with the Iraqi diaspora but is not connected with organized opposition to Saddam Hussein.

Since Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, started warning that a US invasion of Iraq would "open the gates of hell," the retort that has been flying around Iraqi exiles' websites is, "Good! We'd like to get out!"

It got me wondering: What if you antiwar protesters and politicians succeed in stopping a US-led war to change the regime in Baghdad? What then will you do?

Will you also demonstrate and demand "peaceful" actions to cure the abysmal human rights violations of the Iraqi people under the rule of Saddam Hussein?

Or, will you simply forget about us Iraqis once you discredit George W. Bush?

Will you demand that the United Nations send human rights inspectors to Iraq? Or are you only interested in weapons of "mass destruction" inspections, not of "mass torture" practices?

Will you also insist that such human rights inspectors be given time to discover Hussein's secret prisons and coercion as you do for the weapons inspectors? Or will you simply accept a "clean bill of health" if you can't find the thousands of buried corpses?

Will you pressure your own countries to host millions more Iraqi refugees (estimated now at 4 million) fleeing Hussein's brutality?Or will you prefer they stay in bondage?

Will you vigorously demand an international tribunal to indict Hussein's regime for crimes against humanity? Or will you simply dismiss him as "another" dictator of a "sovereign" country?

Will you question why Hussein builds lavish palaces while his people are suffering? Or will you simply blame it all on UN sanctions and US "hegemony?"

Will you decry the hypocritical oil and arms commerce of France, Germany, Russia, and China with the butcher of Baghdad? Or are you only against US interests in Iraqi oil?

Will you expose ethnic cleansing of native Iraqi non-Arabs (Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkomens), non-Sunni-Muslims (Shiite), and non-Muslims (Christians, Mandaens, Yezidis)? Or are these not equivalent to the cleansing of Bosnians and Kosovars?

Will you show concern about the brutal silencing of the "Iraqi street"? Or are you only worried about the orchestrated noises of "Arab and Islamist streets" outside Iraq?

Will you hear the cries of Iraqis executed in acid tanks in Baghdad? the Iraqi women raped in front of their husbands and fathers to extract confessions? Or of children tortured in front of their parents? Or of families billed for the bullets used to execute military "deserters" in front of their own homes?

No. I suspect that most of you will simply retire to your cappucino cafes to brainstorm the next hot topic to protest, and that you will simply forget about us Iraqis, once you succeed in discrediting President Bush.

Please, prove me wrong.

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