By Contributor on March 18, 2013

I was born in Iraq, and in 2003, I was in Baghdad. My family and I spent the first weeks of March preparing for the U.S.-led invasion. I was in charge of storing gas for the generator, placing tape across windows, and hiring a contractor to dig a well in our backyard.

As we feared, President Bush launched his war of choice on March 20. We survived, but we were among the lucky ones.

Millions of Iraqis have been killed, injured or displaced. One of the most developed countries in the region at the time of the invasion, Iraq now is among the worst in terms of infrastructure and public services. Baghdad ranks lowest in the quality of life of any city in the world, according to a recent global survey from the consultant group Mercer.

Moreover, the Iraqi national identity has been replaced by ethnic and sectarian affiliations.

I am half Sunni and half Shiite -- or "Sushi," as Iraqis jokingly call kids of mixed marriages. I was never asked my sect before 2003. I did not know who from my friends was a Sunni or a Shiite until then. But now, these sectarian divisions have become a core component of Iraq's new identity, and they continue to threaten its territorial integrity and national unity.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq took a heavy toll on the United States, as well.

Almost 4,500 young American men and women were killed, some 32,000 were injured, and hundreds of thousands came back home with psychological trauma. According to Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes, U.S. taxpayers will end up spending $3 trillion on the Iraq invasion, occupation, and care for returning soldiers.

The Iraq fiasco also damaged America's credibility and reputation around the world.

Bush and his senior aides, supported by pundits, sold the American people a lemon. Americans were told Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and the U.S. invasion would save the world from imminent danger. Americans were also promised a clean and swift operation that would liberate Iraq and be welcomed by Iraqis.

None of that happened.

Yet, after all this, no apology has been given to Iraqis, no politicians have been prosecuted, no pundits have been held responsible, and no compensation has been given to Iraq.

If you don't support the idea of compensating Iraq, consider this: Kuwait has been receiving compensation from a country that illegally and immorally invaded it in 1990. That country, believe it or not, is Iraq.

Ten years after Bush waged this senseless war, I am now a U.S. citizen and homeowner in Washington, D.C., where my first child was born a few weeks ago.

More than ever, I am eager to turn over a new leaf in U.S.-Iraqi relations. But for that to happen, we can't just sweep the war under the rug.

America must apologize to Iraq, pay for what it broke and hold the individuals behind the war accountable.

Raed Jarrar is an Arab-American blogger, architect and political advocate. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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