A Letter from someone who was there...

by joannadandy 11 Replies latest social current

  • joannadandy

    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.)

    Dear Friends,
    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.

  • pr_capone


    We dont and will never know everything that is going on behing the scenes. It is not the responsibility of the President and the Government to come out and tell us every single detail of what they know and the reasons behind this war. We put the man into office, and for those of you who say "well, I didnt vote for him" he is still the leader of the free world, and we need to back him up in his decisions.

    More people will die in the long run if Saddam is left in power. More children will be given acid baths and their eyes gouged out with spoons. More fathers will have to see their children die in this manned, then be fed to a woodchipper themselves. More mothers will be taken from the streets for no reason to be raped over and over again, then be executed... leaving their children motherless and possibly fatherless.

    I am against murder, I am against torture. Saddam needs to be taken out now once and for all.

    I for one do not believe that this is about oil or anything of that nature. This is simply to take out a mennace and a threat to all americans.

    Kansas District Overbeer

  • Jesika

    Hey girly,

    I was gonna read what you posted, but the font is VERY small, anyway you can fix it?

  • Hmmm

    David Hilfiker? I have some of his clothes

  • joannadandy


    he is still the leader of the free world, and we need to back him up in his decisions.

    In that sense Saddam is the leader of Iraq and no one should challenge him...that's kind of poor logic on your part.

    This is a democracy. The reason we have a democracy is so we can disagree with those in power and takes steps to change it, should we not like it. If I don't like the president of US Foriegn Policy I am gonna scream from the highest hills should I choose to.

    You have to be careful about the reports that are leaked to the United States from Iraq about Saddam. I have no doubts in my mind that he is an evil man, and his sons are even worse. But I am still very skeptical after the whole 'Baby Incubator' incident in 91...if you don't know what I am talking about please research it. Not only that but it's looking like some of the documents that Powell presented the UN were fabricated, and the info taken from a COLLEGE TERM PAPER...the student stepped forward and said it was his work that was presented.

    The only intent of my post was to get people to see the very real humanity of the Iraqi people. They don't all hate us, and most of them don't hate Americans, they hate our policy. The rest of the world seems adept at seperating the politics from a people, but the US is unable to do that for some reason, perhaps, because you suggest most Americans feel you must support your country no matter what--not everyone feels that way.

  • COMF

    pr, you know I love you, man. Nothing personal in this, but...

    he is still the leader of the free world, and we need to back him up in his decisions.

    Dude, that is pure JW-speak. Obey without question, because of the office of authority. Never again, man. Not for anybody. No human being is ever that right.

  • pr_capone

    No, but we have to know that he has information that we are not privileged to. Unlike the JW, he CANNOT tell us everything he knows. But... I guess if you dont like the current government, much like with the JW, you can just go somewhere else. *shrugs*

    Tell me what other option we have? We can bitch and moan all we like but that wont change a thing. The only thing to do is support the troops that are over there and wish them well, and hope that Dubya knows something that we dont.

    Kansas District Overbeer

  • Elsewhere

    It seems like the pessimists get a lot more attention than everyone else. All you have to do is preach doom and gloom and all of the sudden you have a following of more pessimists.

    What will happen to Baghdad? I will tell you. Right now the Iraqi information minister is saying that the coalition forces are not at Baghdad's gates... that the Republican Guard is not gone... and that the coalition forces are not even within 100 miles of the city.

    What does this tell me? It tells me that they are desperate to get the terrorist style third party fighters to come in from other countries to fight for them. They want them to think that they have a chance to win. This tells me that Saddam's regime wasted all of its loyal fighting resources (Fedayeen Saddam) in the south and forced it's Republican Guard to stay south of Baghdad in to open - where is was bombed to oblivion. This was done, surprisingly, because Saddam's regime does not trust the Republican Guard enough to enter Baghdad. This is also why Saddam had to create his Fedayeen Saddam forces - they are there to keep his military from turning on him.

    His loyal Fedayeen Saddam forces are depleted and the Republican Guard is falling.

    Entering Baghdad will be far easier than everyone is speculating - there is hardly anyone there to defend it - they're all dead.

  • COMF

    Hiya, KCO!

    But... I guess if you dont like the current government, much like with the JW, you can just go somewhere else. *shrugs*

    (Merle Haggard's "Walkin' On The Fightin' Side of Me" starts playing as background music:
    If you don't love it, leave it;
    let this song that I'm singing be a warning )

    So we're back to that again after all these years, eh? Silly me, imagining that that precious concept "freedom" which is propounded as the main reason for this war had something in it about being free to disagree with the aims and methods of the government, and free to point out its errors, and free to attempt to change them. Guess not, after all...

    Tell me what other option we have?

    Let the UN finish its business. Cooperate with our neighbor countries. Function as a team instead acting like the big bully on the block. What was going to happen in three more months that made it so imperative that we piss off the entire world by scoffing at them and acting alone?

    We can bitch and moan all we like but that wont change a thing.

    I'm not bitching and moaning. Neither am I swearing blind allegiance to a man or group of men because of their office of authority.

    The only thing to do is support the troops that are over there and wish them well

    Supporting the troops and wishing them well is far different from saying "we need to back [Bush] up in his decisions." Of course I wish the troops well. I also wish the Iraqis well. I'd like to see the best possible outcome from this, but I don't expect it.

  • dedalus
    Tell me what other option we have? We can bitch and moan all we like but that wont change a thing. The only thing to do is support the troops that are over there and wish them well, and hope that Dubya knows something that we dont.

    What you call "bitch and moan" is a negative euphemism for exercising free speech as a way of maintaining one's integrity, even if nothing changes. If everyone falls in place and recites the party line, we're nothing but a nation of drones. What makes America special is the right of each citizen to openly disagree with what America does (this, sadly, is sometimes more an ideal than a reality). I find it absolutely dumbfounding that some people call into question that right by suggesting that everyone should shut up and mimic the administration's rhetoric without so much as an arched eyebrow.

    Naturally, you have a right to express your own views, pr capone, and all of that. Just realize that your view insinuates that others should rescind their right of expression. If you don't find that even a little disturbing, I don't know what to say.


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