The following is a letter I recieved in e-mail. I want to share it because it is from someone I have had the pleasure of hearing lecture while in school (he is a friend of one of my professors), Dr. David Hilfiker, (Very reputable, please feel free to do a search of his work here is one of many links I can offer http://www.villagelife.org/news/archives/hilfiker.html ) who was in Iraq in December with the Iraq Peace Team. These are merely his obeservations and opinions, but he is a very intelligent man, and from my estimation does not run his mouth off without being informed. (The underlined portions are my own.)
I've received an e-mail from friends who were part of the Iraq Peace Team who have just arrived in Amman, Jordan, from Baghdad. For reasons that I don't yet understand, they were asked by the Iraqi government to leave country. As they traveled at 80 mph over the deserted highway to the border, a tire blew and the van was thrown into the ditch and totaled. Although, remarkably, none was hurt seriously, three of my friends had wounds (a gash on the forehead requiring stitches, a broken thumb, broken ribs, etc) that needed immediate medical attention. After a while an Iraqi civilian drove up, asked if they needed help, and without hesitation packed everyone into his car and drove them to Rutba, a town of about 20,000 people in the middle of the desert between Baghdad and the Jordanian border.
Although there were no military targets in sight, much of the town (including the children's hospital) had been destroyed by bombs three days before, so they were taken to a temporary clinic. There they were welcomed (even as Americans) and the doctor gave them what treatment he could, although he was very apologetic that??ecause of the economic sanctions and the war??hey had almost no supplies or medications, not even local anesthetic for suturing my friend's head wound. He also apologized that he could not offer an ambulance to take the most injured ones to Amman. It had been destroyed in the bombing. When the team tried to pay for the medical services, the doctor refused payment, saying "We treat everyone in our clinic: Muslim, Christian, Iraqi or American. We all are part of the same family you know." Finally, the other two vans in their party (who had been quite far ahead of them when the accident happened) found them and took them to Amman for definitive treatment.
"We all are part of the same family you know." In an isolated Iraqi city that has just had its children's hospital bombed by American planes, Americans were treated with civility, hospitality, indeed, with love. (If our cities had been bombed by Iraq, would Iraqi citizens receive such hospitality?) There is still hope in our world!
I have lately become aware that the rest of the world??nd especially the Arab world??s seeing a very different war from the one we're seeing. Although even some of our media are beginning to show a restlessness about the war, although there are a few pictures and stories about Iraqi wounded (actually, more than I expected), nevertheless, we are seeing a largely sanitized war told from a decidedly American point of view. The rest of the world is seeing (often grizzly) pictures of dead and wounded children, destroyed homes and schools, and families wailing over the catastrophe. One can argue about which point of view is more accurate, but we should be aware that the rest of the war is seeing a vicious war of assault and aggression against innocent civilians.
Many reports that I read (even now in some American papers) indicate that the war has hardened attitudes within the Arab world. The Washington Post reported yesterday that it's hard to find anyone in Saudi Arabia, for instance, who will even speak in mildly critical tones: the criticism is in fact strident.
Arabs did not regard Saddam well before the war, but he has now become a hero, widely admired. We have apparently misjudged cultural differences again. One doesn't have to win to become a hero. Putting up the noble fight against overwhelming odds is enough. We are driving the Arab world into Saddam's arms. Even if, as is likely, we capture or kill Saddam, he will become a martyr who will give America and Americans trouble for many years.
There is a growing hatred for us in the Arab world. It was very clear to me in December that, even then, most Iraqis were predisposed to see the United States positively. The hatred we are seeing toward us, then, is not "natural." It was not pre-existent. It's a direct result of this war (and our treatment of Palestine). Muslims largely see this war as a religious war of Christians against Muslims.
If Osama bin Laden is still alive, he must be satisfied with his spectacular success in achieving his primary goal: a religious war with the West.
Iraqis are obviously not welcoming American troops as liberators. The Bush Administration declares that this is because they still have guns to their heads. Perhaps. But I will certainly not be surprised if the guerilla war we are seeing lasts long beyond the formal "victory" of "coalition" forces. As one Iraqi is reported to have said, "??We may not like our regime. But we fight for our country. The Russians did not like Stalin but they fought under him against the German invaders. We have a long history of fighting the colonial powers. ... What is happening now is we are starting a war of liberation against the Americans and the British."
No weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have been found. I continue to believe that eventually we'll find some chemical or even biological weapons. The Administration knows that finding a significant supply of WMD would dramatically change our standing in the world, so??lthough they're quite silent on the question??hey must be searching like crazy. So far, nothing. They also know that not finding any WMD to show to the world will be an international political disaster. I think we can be sure that if there was a major program that our intelligence services had any clue about, we would have made a beeline for it.
I just have to comment on Donald Rumsfeld's comment regarding the Iraqi breach of the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of our POWs and his threats to prosecute Iraqi soldiers who "don't play by the rules." In light of our treatment of prisoners of war at Guant?namo Bay and in Afghanistan (where by one count we've breached a dozen different titles of the Geneva Conventions), you'd think he wouldn't want to bring the matter up. Although I certainly don't condone ??errorism,??the better term is probably "asymmetrical warfare." If the United States and British military have all the most powerful weapons, Iraqis will find some way to fight back.
I've just finished writing a draft of an article on the Bush assault on the poor. What became clear to me as I researched the issue and brought all the pieces onto the table at once is that the financial resources alone that we are wasting on this war will penalize the poor for years to come. We act as if we're a nation of unlimited wealth. In fact, our economy has some very serious weaknesses and potential vulnerable spots, and those are quite sensitive to what the rest of the world does. We cannot, in fact, go it alone. If the rest of the world, for instance, made the decision to use the euro as the primary international currency rather than the dollar, we would be in very difficult shape. (Sometime in the last few years Iraq had actually started denominating its sales in euros; if the rest of the oil-producing countries did the same, it would create serious problems for the US.) That's because if other countries began keeping euros on reserve (the way they now keep dollars on reserve in order to be able to back up their currencies and keep the exchange rate appropriate), they would end up selling their dollars to buy euros. This would seriously weaken the dollar and its exchange rate would fall, making it far more expensive for us to buy foreign goods. And we are dependent on foreign goods for our standard of living. The world is far more dependent on good will and cooperation than the current administration seems to believe. This is especially true for our economy.
Regardless of one's feelings about the war, it should now be quite clear that in its run-up to this war the Administration bungled its foreign relations badly. Many foreign columnists have written that with patience and good diplomacy the US could have finally have gotten UN approval for invasion. Some within the administration apparently didn't care, but they are the ones who seem to believe that we can operate in the world purely on the basis of force. I would argue that such conviction is na?ve beyond belief.
Regardless of the progress of the war, regardless of how much or how little damage to Iraq and its people, however, we must remember that the overwhelming moral issue (and the overwhelming issue for the rest of the world) is that the US attacked preemptively in defiance of the United Nations and the rest of the world. We will not be forgiven this easily.
Those of us who can see what is happening need not only to maintain our opposition to this war but to grow into an opposition to American domination and American empire . The men (and one woman) who are now leading our country are??hether they are aware of it or not??rampling upon the only values that can produce a sustainable world. This administration has decided that it will deal with the complexity of the modern world through dominance and power. History will show, I suspect, that dominance and power became not only impermissible but also ineffective means of dealing with the complexity of the world on August 6, 1945. War is no longer an option. Neither is world dominance.
Formatted for Jesika and others...thanks for the info...I wondered about the size after I posted it and saw how tiny it was, but I didn't have time to fix it before I headed off to class...hope this helps.