The Iraq War is once again in the news, with some presidential candidates questioning whether we should have invaded. So I’m revisiting what I had to say about the controversy way back on Feb. 19, 2003:

I finally understand why President Bush is so concerned about Iraq. For we have our own third-world terrorist state right here in our house. It’s called the toy room. This is supposed to be a room where kids play with toys. However, once the room is trashed, very little playing goes on inside it.

Deadlines for cleaning up the room have been defied. Homeland Security recommended sealing off the room with plastic and duct tape, while wild-eyed defense experts want to blow up the room. Hoping to avoid a conflict, we stepped up sanctions against the room’s 8-year-old ruler. These did not bother him in the least and his toys continued to lay on the floor.

Outside intervention in the toy room seemed unavoidable. Fearing toxic waste and biological weapons, we first made an inspection of the room. The landscape may have looked post-nuclear but radiation levels were low and no anthrax was found. As for military weapons, we found one Sherman tank, a pirate ship and a multitude of small arms because this is the kind of population that likes to wear uniforms and fire guns. Some weapons of mass destruction were found, but the Double A batteries in the Star Wars spacecraft had died long ago.

Like most terrorist states, the toy room was male-dominated, with almost every citizen being a soldier, pirate, or cowboy. Seeking to destroy this chauvinistic society, we searched for links to Al-Qaeda. The 8-year-old definitely had terrorist tendencies, insofar as making messes and refusing to clean them up. But no link to a terrorist network could be found.

We decided to call off military intervention and, instead, launch a massive humanitarian effort to restore the devastated room to a semblance of order. We assured the citizens that, if carpeting could be uncovered, we would vacuum the entire country. The work went painfully slow. The injuries and destruction were appalling. Superheroes were missing limbs, vehicles had lost their wheels and some toys had been smashed beyond recognition. Seeing the carnage, it suddenly made sense that almost every vehicle in the country was a police car, fire engine, or ambulance.

We reunited ethnic groups like the WWII GI’s, and placed them in their own plastic containers. We put pirates back on their ship and the cavalry safely inside their stockade. But after hours of sorting tiny figures, we lost our patience. We began tossing toys wherever. I’m afraid some containers have turned into refugee camps, with Jedi warriors sharing space with dinosaurs.

When the relief work was finally finished, the forest-green carpeted country was spotless. Civilization was restored and we dropped our sanctions against the room’s youthful dictator. I began to wonder: If a humanitarian effort could reclaim the terror-filled toy room, why couldn’t we try this approach in Iraq?

For most civilized countries, using military means to fight terrorism is not an option. It’s been tried and only leads to more violence against civilians. Perhaps humanitarian aid could help defuse the Middle East and weaken popular support for terrorists. 

I don’t know but at least the non-violent approach worked in the toy room.

 John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.