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October 29, 2011

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"Nation-building" in the 'New Iraq':  one prostitute at a time...

Kurdishaspect.com - By The Angry Kurd

I was taught that a 'nation' is humanity, and that the love of a nation is therefore nothing but the love of humanity. It follows that love of humanity and life is civilization - all else is hateful barbarity. A nation expresses and manifests its civilization through institutions that are reflections of ingenuity and creativity, lovingly applied towards promoting human freedom, integrity, dignity and reciprocity. Conversely, a nation expresses its barbarity through institutions reflecting ignorance, depravity and hate of life and mankind. In reality, a nation is never entirely civilized, or barbaric - but temporally exists on the Scale of Life, ever moving within Reality's Spectrum, between polar extremes of true Love or empty hate. 

Big words for an oft-intellectually small readership. Simply put, a civilized nation is one that treats its citizens as human beings. A barbaric nation is one that treats its people like shit.

'Nation-building' and 'democracy promotion' in the Middle East proceeds apace, and has reached new heights - or should one say lows - in that US-sponsored beacon of human progress and civilization known as Iraq's 'Kurdistan Region', shamelessly touted as the "Other Iraq". Today, members of George Orwell's contemporary Animal Farm, known as the "Kurdistan Regional Government", debated the future of the region's latest, and most successful institutional innovation: prostitution.

You see, an underdeveloped, backwards nation is acutely aware of its barbarity and intellectual penury. Simply put, it has an inferiority complex. Orwellian pigs in nature, they fruitlessly try to show their beleaguered peoples - and the developed world - that they have become civilized human beings. If Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand have institutionalized the world's oldest profession - prostitution - then so can they.

Western institutions such as universal health care, social security, occupational safety, sanitation, environmental protection, public education, transportation, energy infrastructures, food security or an accountable judiciary are beyond their creative and intellectual abilities - and are therefore, duly, ignored. As for any semblance of an economic program - well, there is none:

"When parties are questioned on the economic program of the state that they are clamoring for, or on the nature of the regime which they propose to install, they are incapable of replying, because, precisely, they are completely ignorant of the economy of their own country. The economy has always developed outside the limits of their knowledge. They have nothing more than an approximate, bookish acquaintance with the actual and potential resources of their country's soil and mineral deposits; and therefore can only speak of these resources on a general and abstract plane... This underdeveloped class will fall into deplorable stagnation. Neither financiers nor industrial magnates are to be found here. They are not engaged in production, nor in invention, nor building, nor labour;  they are completely canalized into activities of the intermediary type: the Western capitalists' business agent. Its innermost vocation seems to be to keep in the running of the mafia, and to be part of the racket." ~ Frantz Fanon,  'The Wretched of the Earth', 1961

One, among many, reasons an underdeveloped nation is called backwards, is because it begins at the end. Trying to jump ahead - without doing any hard work; without developing prerequisite intellectual, technical or spiritual capital - it embraces the empty shells of Western civilization, without understanding their meaning or nature. Desert skyscrapers, glitzy malls, ice-skating rinks, golf courses, luxury car dealerships, gated residential communities, expensive cafes and fast-food joints spring up to dazzle the population. A plethora of private schools, foreign universities, pretentious modern-art museums, and ultra-specialized private hospitals and labs are presented as manifestations of socioeconomic progress. Low voter turnout is hailed a success for social democracy, and an indicator of political stability. Like the West, citizens are said to be so comfortable, and so busy with personal development and recreation, that they are oblivious to the political process. This all in a region where up to 80% of females have been genitally mutilated (http://www.stopfgmkurdistan.org/), and cholera outbreaks are an annual occurrence.

Those who attempt to scratch beneath the wafer-thin surface, to expose the dismal reality of the empty, stagnant nation, are quick to discover the true hateful institutional foundations supporting the facade: a Stasi-like secret police and intelligence service, torture, prisons, politicized media, foreign 'advisers', nationalist and religious rhetoric, historical fabrication, fake or foreign-bought academic credentials, a puppet judiciary - and of course the two mainstays of any underdeveloped country - corruption and nepotism. Ingenuity stops with every barrel of oil rolling out of the country, as can be seen by Iraq's dismal GDP. That is - and always will be - the farthest limit of their creative and intellectual capacity.

Finding itself within the confines of such cognitive repression; shackled by institutional structures barring the people's ability to live, think, speak or act freely - the nation stagnates and starts to die, physically, mentally and spiritually. Those at the bottom of the social cesspool, from extreme destitution, struggle to even survive, and find their only creative means of survival being physical: selling their bodies as cheap labour, hired thugs or prostitutes. Spiritually and mentally dead, those in the quickly-vanishing middle of the social cesspool - along with the shit floating on top - become eager customers.

And it is so that "Operation Iraqi Freedom" has afforded its target nation institutions promoting human freedom: the freedom to take advantage of, and abuse victims of wars on the poor; the freedom to pimp out mothers, wives, sisters and children; the freedom to spread sexually-transmitted diseases, depression and misery. Sulaimaniyah province alone hails up to 400 brothels and massage parlors, and Iraq as a whole is officially listed by the US State Department as one of the worst countries when it comes to human trafficking and forced prostitution. A truly sad state of affairs for a land that was once the cradle of civilization, the birthplace of Hammurabi's Code of law and justice, and the foundation of Baghdad's House of Wisdom.

That rich land, that fertile crescent, from which civilization and the beauty of Hanging Gardens grew, is long gone. Its foundation - love - is dead. The "New Iraq" is a barren, empty straw man, who's foundation is ignorance and hate - ready to burn down at any moment. It is for this reason that the protagonists of the "New Iraq" are playing the game to lose, investing nothing in the nation, and hiding their loot in foreign banks and overseas properties.

These protagonists, Orwellian pigs in nature, will be "quite content with the role of the Western bourgeoisie's business agent, and will play their part without any complexes, in a most dignified manner" (Fanon, 1961). Indeed, alienated from their reality of ignorance and stupidity, they make proud speeches, wearing designer suits from Paris and Milan, using empty words and fraudulent conceptual frameworks taught at post-colonial Sandhursts, such as the London School of Economics and Harvard Kennedy School of Governments of the world. They even have blogs like mine.

Inevitably, a pig - even one capable of uttering catch-phrases like "good governance", "accountability mechanisms", "legal frameworks" or "policy processes", while wearing Gucci or Prada - remains a pig. Debating the legalized institutionalization of prostitution in that Animal Farm of a "parliament" is the culmination of a sad, and cruel joke; for prostitution is already deeply institutionalized - an expression of a nation bereft of any semblance of productive intellectual or cognitive capacity. Hiring KPMG or PricewaterhouseCoopers to write technical reports on the "good governance" of prostitution only adds icing to the farce, and makes the situation even more comedic. Perhaps they should hire Silvio Berlusconi after his impeachment, to advise a parliamentary "sex-pert panel" on the issue - although one can imagine their self-sufficiency, expertise and experience in the subject matter.

Prostitution is nearly always a symptom of a deeper-rooted disease, that is hateful pathogenic politics. Those in medicine and public health know that treating the symptom never cures the disease, and always causes side effects - often unwanted and unexpected. "Treating" prostitution, either through criminalization or regulation pose extremely difficult political, societal, technical and moral problems for the most advanced and civilized of nations; let alone for a backwards, barbaric country like Iraq, which is intellectually, conceptually and operationally light-years away from even understanding what the word "regulation" even means.

A beloved mentor of mine taught me to move beyond being a critic - to provide hypothetically-plausible, simple solutions to seemingly impossible, and complex problems. Therefore, I pose four simple questions to this nation that proudly calls itself the "New Iraq": Is this what you saw yourselves becoming after "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in 2003? Is this the best you can do? When you look in the mirror, do you see a complete, healthy, loving human being - physically, mentally and spiritually? Do you love, or hate yourself and the world around you?

These questions are important because "nation-building" is, in essence, nothing but the institutional manifestation of insight and knowledge derived from love. If we are able to honestly love ourselves, and see the reality that we are not pigs, but beautifully flawed human beings, we may then also be able to love the lowliest of creatures - the indigent, the starving sick or the friendless prostitute - and understand the reasons underpinning their plight. We may tear down institutional frameworks built on ignorance and hate, that lavish empty ostentation on a few, at the expense of dehumanizing and humiliating the entire population. We may unleash our God-given creativity and ingenuity to develop sophisticated, civilized institutions that help war-orphaned teenage girls to freely choose to go to schools, museums, field trips and gymnasiums - to develop their transcendent potential as productive human beings - rather than dirty brothels that breed nothing but hate, misery, ignominy, disease and death. 

Indeed, the cost of not doing so is extremely high, for a society that does not hang together, will surely and inevitably hang one another.

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