Iraq is the cradle of civilization. It is how we came to be what we are. Mesopotamia was the center of the universe and was the oldest civilization anywhere on this planet.
Iraq is an Arabic word and has been a geographical term for the general area throughout the Muslim era.
The land of Iraq is important historically, because it is the land where the first law, the Hamurabi code, was enacted in Babylon thousands of years ago, its where writing was first discovered 5000 years ago at Uruk, and where the seventh wonder of the world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, is situated. It is important culturally because Iraq was the center of the Islamic Empire (Khilafat), and Arab civilization for hundred of years. Iraq is where science and culture prospered, where Arabic language has its two distinguished schools, Kufa and Basra, and where one of the oldest universities in the world was built, Al Mustansiriyya University in Baghdad.
It is also important religiously, as it has the oldest established church in the world, The Church of the East, founded by St Thomas, one of Christ's 12 disciples. In addition, it has numerous Islamic holy sites such as Karbala, Najaf, and Baghdad. The holy city of Najaf is the study center of theology for the world's 150 million Muslims who follow the Shia tradition.
It is where the two great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates meet and gave birth to the concept of agriculture. The earliest evidence of animal and plant domestication has been found in and around northern Iraq, dating more than 10,000 years ago.
Five thousand years ago, territory now in southern Iraq was the home of the Sumerian civilization, which contributed such breakthroughs as the wheel and the plow.
The land of Iraq has been conquered by Alexander the Great, ravaged by the Mongols and dominated by Britain.
If you follow that history to the present, you find Iraq at the epicenter of world attention, this time as the likely target of an attack by the greatest fire power that has ever been accumulated in the history of humankind.
"It is an ironic twist of fate to stand on the remains of a city in southern Iraq where the civilized world began and realize it could all end right there as well," cautions historian Bradley Parker.
Will the civilized world of today build the way for enlightenment for the entire world or will it barrel down a path of self-interest empire building?
In a rapidly shrinking global village, humanity's only hope for the future is to use our intellect to develop cooperation in our neighborhoods and around the globe.