[FORUM]The ‘canned hunting’ of Iraq

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[FORUM]The ‘canned hunting’ of Iraq

Hobbies are a personal matter, but U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is under fire for his hobby, which some might find offensive. Mr. Cheney recently went on a hunting trip to an exclusive private club in Pennsylvania in which birds were reared in cages rather than in their natural habitat. When 500 birds were released, Mr. Cheney and nine other patrons shot over 400 stocked pheasants and mallard ducks with hunting rifles. Mr. Cheney alone shot over 70 pheasants.
The Humane Society of the United States censured Mr. Cheney, saying, “This wasn’t a hunting ground. It was an open-air abattoir, and the vice president should be ashamed to have patronized this operation and then slaughtered so many animals.” The practice of “canned hunting,” not the hobby itself, is the focus of the controversy.
Last week, L. Paul Bremer, the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him,” officially announcing the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein at an internationally televised news conference. As the U.S. Army elaborated on the operation, I was reminded of Mr. Cheney’s hunting trip.
The U.S.-led campaign against Iraq was essentially a canned hunting. Iraq could never rival the military strength of the world’s sole superpower. Neoconservatives provided the justification for the war to President George W. Bush, and Mr. Cheney was the leader of the neocons in the White House. Ultimately, Saddam’s capture means the conclusion of the Cheney-style hunting trip to Iraq.
As Robert Kagan, a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, put it, “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” When a hunter has a rifle, everything looks like game. If you are armed only with a knife, you will try to avoid a bear in the forest. But when you are equipped with a rifle, you might as well kill the bear to remove the threat.
Even though the “reincarnation of evil” was captured, the insurgency and terrorism against the United States persist. The capture of Saddam could not solve the Iraqi puzzle. The United States overthrew Saddam’s rule, but never took over Iraq. You might take power with guns, but public opinion cannot be bought with force.
When the controversy spread, Mr. Cheney reportedly announced that he had donated all the birds to a relief organization. While the method of hunting might have been problematic, Mr. Cheney and his friends justified their outdoor sporting event with a good cause.
The best thing Washington can do for post-Saddam Iraq is to return the country to the citizens of Iraq as soon as possible. International opinion is increasingly leaning towards letting the United Nations take the initiative in the efforts to rebuild Iraq instead of the United States. The timely transfer of sovereignty is the shortcut to resolving the Iraq problem.

by Bae Myung-bok

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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