A barrel is a cylindrical metal or wooden container that is now more a part of the lives of Iraqis than ever before, and strikingly so, since the American-British occupation of Iraq. Many observers calculate that the humble barrel is a prerequisite for the kind of democracy exported by Uncle Sam's country, since this greater-ubiquity of the barrel has coincided with Iraqi democracy as we know it today. The barrel has become an indispensable commodity that no Iraqi building, office, or installation, official or unofficial, can do without.

After the occupation, the barrel became widely used in homes by all segments, classes and groups across Iraqi society, to store generator and heater fuel, and to store water, since water is often cut off as a result of Iraq's democratic development.

Iraqis have busied themselves inventing ways to capitalize on this dependence on the barrel, in both industry and in construction. It has also been used, in and of itself, as a stool, or as a bench of sorts by putting a piece of wood between two barrels and sitting on it. They are also used to transport and dispose of construction waste. And by cutting off their bottoms and connecting them together, they are used as pipes. Similarly, the barrel is used as a tub to check tires for leaks. And let's not forget the widest and most well-known use of the barrel, which is to protect security forces and maintain order in the streets and alleys of Baghdad - by blocking them off.

As for agriculture, the barrel has been used to carry water from rivers into the fields, or as a trough (after cutting them in half and putting several halves together) to feed and water livestock and other animals.

But the strangest new use of the barrel has been to fight rodents. It is said that a farmer complained to a friend about the abundance of large rats in his field, so his friend suggested a cure. He was told to gather some rats and put them in a barrel without food for several weeks. The farmer followed his friend's suggestion, and a week later opened the barrel to find nothing but a single rat, "with blood from the other rats it had eaten dripping from its mouth." He then set the rat loose in his field to eat the rest of the rats!!

American strategic planners have benefited from this idea, for they have made a barrel out of Iraq: the Americans have put terrorist and criminal gangs from around the world inside it, and thrown its borders open to create a fertile breeding ground for terrorism and crime. After letting nature take its course, what's inside the Iraqi barrel can then be distributed elsewhere in the region to implement America's plan for democracy. This is being done under the strange, contradictory rubric of "constructive chaos," a phrase used in the Western press to justify the massacres and bloodbaths that have characterized Iraq during the American-British occupation.

To ensure security and stability and to prevent neighboring states from sneaking into Iraq's interior - for whatever reason - a serious attempt to secure Iraq's borders, by security forces loyal to this country, must take first priority on the list of tasks that the new government needs to accomplish.