The author of this letter, who lives in Greece, was the American-born
wife of the late Prime Minister of Greece, Andreas Papandreou, and is
the mother of George Papandreou, the leader of the opposition socialist
party of Greece (PASOK), who is also currently the president of the
Socialist International organization.
Americans have been so traumatized by the issue of terrorism and
politicians so scared of being thought to be "soft on terrorism" that no
really serious proposals on the “in or out” issue can be put forward.
Most of the debate is in military terms.
The women’s organization I belong to in Greece – Center for Research and
Action on Peace – has had a long time connection with Iraqi women,
working together since l978 on topics concerning equality and peace. As
an organization that promotes the concept of resolving conflict without
the use of force, we have been devastated by the developments in that
country since the US declared war on it, watching as we did the downward
spiral into confusion, chaos and total destruction.
Instead of looking at this as a military problem, let’s look at it as a
human problem. What does the average Iraqi want? He/she wants first of
all stability, security and peace. This means the Americans out, the
return of their sovereignty, the control of their oil and the
reconstruction of their country, its water system, electrical system,
health system, education system. They want their jobs and careers back.
Given these needs, the first step the Americans can take is to announce
a date of total withdrawal which will be flexible depending on the
amount of violence each day prior to that date. A day without violence
will shorten the date of withdrawal. A date with violence will add a day
to the departure date. Meanwhile the US government will provide a large
sum of money for reconstruction to be matched by a coalition of Arab
states to be deposited in a bank account and put under the control of a
special consortium chosen by the UN. The consortium will be obliged to
accept bids for reconstruction projects within a short given period of
time from pre-determined areas, primarily Arab, and according to the
percentage of money given by each state. American companies, no matter
what amount of money given by the US cannot share more than 20% of the
contracts. The oil, however, which will be put under control of the
Iraqi government, will be sold at a reduced price to the US.
This should be an offer that the warring sides cannot refuse. It puts
into Iraqi hands the possibility to end civil strife and start the
rebuilding process. It requires unity, perseverance and hard work. For
the Americans it requires pragmatism, generosity and hard work.