"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Iraq War -- "The Sirens of Baghdad"

What: Barbershop talk
Where: Kafr Karam, a village in the Iraqi desert

"But I can't let you unload our faults onto Saddam's shoulders. He was a monster, yes, but he was our monster. He came from among us, he shared our blood and we all contributed to consolidating his megalomania. Do you prefer infidels from the other side of the world, troops sent here to roll over us? The GIs are nothing but brutes and wild beasts; they drive their big machines past our widows and orphans and have no qualms about dropping their bombs on our health clinics. Look at what they've made of our country: hell on earth."

"Saddam made it a mass grave."

"It wasn't Saddam; it was our fear. If we had shown a minimum of courage and solidarity, that cur would never have dared become such a tyrant."

"Why do you think they're here, the Americans?" ... "Is it Christian charity? They're businessmen, we're commodities, and they're ready to trade. Yesterday, it was oil for food. Today, it's Saddam for oil. And what do we get out of all this? If the Americans had an ounce of human kindness, they wouldn't treat their blacks and their Latinos like subhumans. Instead of crossing oceans to come to the aid of some poor, emasculated ragheads, they'd do better to put their own house in order. They could do something about the Indians they've got rotting away on their reservations, kept out of sight like people with some shameful disease."

"Why did Bush attack our country? . . . Because they wished to rid us of a despot, their former flunky, but now a compromising figure? Because our sufferings had finally touched the hearts of the vultures in Washington? If you believe that fairy tale for one second, then you're irredeemably screwed. The USA was extremely worried about two things that might interfere with its hegemonic projects. One: Our country was very close to acquiring full sovereignty -- that is, a nuclear weapon. In the new world order, only nations that have a nuclear arsenal are sovereign; the others may be potential hotbeds of tension or providential sources of raw materials for the great powers, but from now on, that's all. The world is run by the forces of international finance, for which peace is equivalents to layoffs. It's all a matter of living space. The second thing the USA knew was that Iraq was the only military force in the region capable of standing up to Israel. Bringing Iraq to its knees would make it possible for Israel to dominate the Middle East. Those are the two real reasons that led to the occupation of our country. Saddam was nothing but an excuse. If he seems to give the Americans' aggression legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion, that doesn't mean using him is any less of a diabolical ploy. Their trick is to create a diversion in order to conceal the essential objectives of the exercise, which are to prevent an Arab country from acquiring the means of its strategic defense and therefore from protecting its integrity, and, at the same time, to help Israel establish definitive authority over this part of the world."

The Sirens of Baghdad
by Yasmina Khadra (pgs. 33-35)


Carmen S. said...

I know I've been a bad friend and I haven't been keeping up here and so I apologize that my first comment back is on this but...

Why. Why are all Americans bad. Why is it that none of us could have a pure motive? Why is the image of all of our soldiers rolling past the widows and orphans?

I don't think ANY country should be a world power in the middle east. No country should be dominating another or bully the other.

For every American that is blinded by the media and news to what an every day Middle Eastern citizen really is, represents and stands for .... isn't there a Middle Easterner equally as blinded by their media and news? Is it really only us Westerners who have such wrong views?

Why are each of returning wrong for wrong? And what? You know, I've had one friend die in this war and my cousin has been in the Middle East at least 4 times since 2001. 4 times where he could have lost his life and left behind his family. 4 times where he did lose friends who were killed during his stays there.

Blaming Americans gets old. We didn't start the fight in the Middle East. It began centuries and centuries ago. I can respect those that believe we need to stay out of it. I can even agree with them.

We all belong to the human race and I'd prefer that that unite us, rather than finding differences that divide us.

Susanne said...

Carmen, thanks for leaving a comment. I'd been missing you. Did you see the post from a couple days ago about democracy in Muslim lands?

I DO understand what you are saying because that has pretty much been my mindset from the beginning. I just found this book at the library and thought this barbershop talk was very interesting because it sounded a LOT like what I've heard from my Arab friends.

I like to post different things here just to let others read varying perspectives. Maybe stir up controversy a bit...hahaha! ;-)No, really, to get us thinking! I rather like being challenged.

Do I think Middle Easterners have wrong views of us? Oh, I KNOW they do! They were so surprised to find out Andrew and I had some of those labels that they find so horrible over there. They were surprised we didn't have horns growing out of our heads, sharp teeth and pitchforks in our hands. :)

Thank you for sharing your opinion. I have rethought my position on this war and think we were in error going. That said, I think highly of most of our troops (minus the "bad apples") and am thankful for their willingness to serve. It's not THEIR faults our leaders send them into such wars.

Btw, I heard the Afghanistan war could go on for years and years and years. Here is the mightiest nation on earth (supposedly) having trouble with a bunch of backwards cave dwellers! I honestly do NOT think God is favorable to our country. How could He be? We are wretched, poor, miserable, blind and naked (Rev. 3:17)and most of us have no clue ... though I think some are finally seeing that. Just my opinion anyway. I don't see us deserving any favor from God .. we are no longer a God-fearing or following nation.

Loved your comment as always..thanks much! :)

Carmen S. said...

I agree. We turned (as a country) our back on God years ago and yet we still expect His blessing to pour out on us. Um, no. Example after example in the OT shows us how God is a just God and when Israel turned their hearts from God, God did not bless them.

I am not blind to the knowledge that we, as Americans, are not perfect. I do not think we always make right choices or have pure motives in everything we do.

Each of us, are individuals of a whole though, and I happen to know a lot of really fantastic people, who are compassionate, caring, and kind. Every once in a while, I think they should make the headlines. Not all the evil that usually does. KWIM?

Susanne said...

Yes, I totally know what you mean. And that goes for both sides. I've met personally Muslim Arabs who were some of the nicest people you would ever meet.

Both sides have to stop listening to the media's demonization of all groups. They take one evangelical or one Muslim and make out MILLIONS of people to be like that. Uh no.

I remember when I met Samer I was like, "Oh goody! I get a chance to prove to an Arab Muslim that we aren't all bad people over here!" I was sooooo excited to get that chance! :-)

Great points again. Thanks much, Carmen!

Niki said...

Carmen said basically what I was going to say. American soldiers have done a lot of good over there and continue to do so. I didn't want us over there to start with, but I'm glad Saddham was brought to justice. And since we're already there, we may as well help where we can. Which, as I already said, many soldiers have already done.

As for God's blessings on America, as Carmen said, this stopped being a true Christian nation ages ago. But I believe that like when Abraham asked God if He would spare Sodom and Gomorrha over 10 righteous souls, that God has been merciful and has blessed this country for the ones who truly do serve Him, in spite of the many who do not.

II Thessalonians 2:7, 8 says, "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
"Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,"

One day, God's hand of protection will be removed. I've heard that this will happen after the rapture.

Samer said...

Thank you Susanne for posting about this topic that is important to me. And I appreciate all of the comments. I have so many things in my mind that I would like to share. They are not going to be easy for you to hear but I hope you open your heart to hear me and try to understand me.

Personally I never judged people according to what I hear about them in the media but according to the actions *I* see them doing. Before the war started, I kept hearing my people saying that the Americans are coming to kill some Arabs as a revenge because the blood that was shed in Afghanistan was not enough for them. Honestly I did not believe that and I thought highly of the Americans and I believed they truly wanted to bring freedom to Iraqis.

But that changed as soon as the war started and after I saw many of our innocents killed by the American troops. Every single day I saw many images of children burned to death and parts of Iraqis scattered all over. According to statistics 7 thousand CIVILIAN Iraqis were killed in the first 20 days of the war in addition to more than 10 thousand Iraqi soldiers who had to serve in the army just like military service is required here in Syria from all young men. And of course we all know that hundreds of thousands were killed after the Americans completed their invasion of the country.

How do you expect us to forget that? How do you expect us to forget the scenes of prisoners being tortured in American prisons in Iraq? How do you expect us to forget the humiliation of military occupation of an Arab country? Has any of you thought about how your feelings would be like if Arabs or Persians or Chinese invaded your country and you saw them killing thousands of your innocents including many children and ruled your country and raised their foreign flag in your cities and tortured your prisoners?

Was it worth it to do all of that to remove Saddam? Would any of you be ready to sacrifice the life of one of your loved ones to kill one bad man? Then why do you expect the Iraqis to accept you all sacrificing thousands of Iraqi lives for the sake of the removal of one man from power?

I do know most of your troops do not intend to hurt innocents but the fact that they used powerful weapons against us show that they do not care if many of us are killed just to protect themselves. This make us feel cheap. How would you feel if foreigners came into your land and used powerful weapons against you and killed thousands of your people to protect themselves? Why do you want us to accept that?

Although you all do not trust your politicians, you want US to think that they wanted to liberate us just because they find us adorable. When did politics ever work like this? Why do you want us to believe such childish lies?

I am sorry this was harsh but I hope you put yourselves in our shoes for a minute and understand our feelings.

Carmen said...

I'm just wondering what all the Iraqi men were doing when Saddam was allowing women to be raped and murdered. Children too. Do Iraqis deny that Saddam's reign included these horrible acts against his own people? Were the people content to live under a leader like that?

What about all the Kurds in Halabja that were killed. Hundreds of thousands?

Hardly was the US just hoping to get one man -- Saddam -- but rather to save many, many more.

I realize that our military acts have not been perfect. I think all of us commenting already acknowledged that.

I don't expect you to forget what was done. I can understand that would be hard to do. Much like it is hard for Americans to watch footage of Sept 11th or for us to see footage of earthquakes on our land or forest fires and forget lives lost.

What we are asking for is that ALL Americans not be judged by some just like we should not judge all Iraqis by the likes of the evil Saddam.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comment. Of course Saddam was a monster and a very brutal man but he was the Iraqis' problem and they are the ones who should fight for their freedom. They will deserve freedom when they are ready to fight for it.

Over here we also do have a bad leadership that persecuted and keeps persecuting many of my countrymen, but does that mean I have to accept foreigners occupying my country and killing many of my people to remove our government? This is just too humiliating and make me feel I am inferior. Who can accept that? It is OUR problem. I admit Arabs are shameful for not working hard for their freedom. And as long as we are lazy to improve our conditions, then we simply don't deserve to have a better life.

Concerning the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we all strongly condemned what happened and we have always opposed the ideology of the extremists. You can come here and see that our people consider them our enemies before they are your enemies. And honestly we also wish to hear from you all a similar condemnation of our mistreatment and the injustices we have been experiencing for many years.

Carmen S. said...

"And honestly we also wish to hear from you all a similar condemnation of our mistreatment and the injustices we have been experiencing for many years."

I.give.up. Clearly, every time I write anything about agreeing that the USA's actions are not perfect nor acceptable at all times, it's not enough.

I do not approve of every action we make as a nation nor do I agree with innocent civilians dying. I do not know any other way to word or express this. It will either have to be accepted as an sincere and honest statement of mine or ignored.

Samer said...

I am sorry if I made you feel like I demanded something from you. I apologize for my words. Recently I realized that sometimes I focus on things that do not really matter at all.

You all believe that your troops came into the region to help us and I disagree with that. So what? Does that really matter? What really matters to me is that I am sure you all are very nice and peaceful and wish us the best. And I am really glad to know you and to be able to reach out to you.

I apologize again for dwelling on such unimportant things.

Susanne said...

Niki, great to hear your opinion on things. So you think until all the Christians are gone from America, God will continue to bless us? For the sake of those of us who are His? What about those dedicated believers around the world - much stronger in faith often than we are - who are in prison or tortured for their faith? Or maybe you think America has such a vast number of Christians that we have somehow "earned" God's blessing whereas Chinese believers have not? Your comment piqued my interest in your thoughts on this! :-)

Btw, I remember you being against the war AND I even remember writing you telling you what good things we were doing there and the Iraqis in Michigan who were cheering to justify my position. How embarrassing. I apologize for that. You were so right!

Thanks for your reply!

Susanne said...

Samer, I'm glad you chimed in with the Arab perspective. I don't think most Americans can understand what all you've shared simply because we are so far removed from all the sights and suffering in most of the world. We watched the war in the "Shock and Awe" days cheering on our troops and feeling proud at the might of our powerful weapons and the bravery of our troops. But I don't think we really thought of the devastation on the ground - the people whose lives were snuffed out, the ones who lost limbs, houses, dignity. I've learned a lot since talking to you and reading books on my own. Thank you for making the devastation of war more real to me. Not that it is something beautiful to know about - not at all. War is hell. But now I can sympathize more with people who have suffered devastation in their lives. Things I can't even fathom. You are right...we'd NEVER put up with thousands of our innocents being killed for the sake of one man and his evil sons being captured. You really give me much to consider..thank you.

Btw, you know how I am frustrated because I often admit that "our troops aren't perfect" or "mistakes were made" thinking that is sufficient apology for all the misery we've caused over there. Instead I am understanding more that your people would rather hear clearly that we strongly condemn how our forces invaded your land, killed thousands of your people and now expect you to be fine with checkpoints, occupying forces and soldiers who shoot first and get the real story later. No way would Americans put up with invaders doing that to us. I daresay we'd be a country full of insurgents fighting the occupiers if we were the ones enduring Chinese or Mexicans or Iranians pulling the same stunt on us. It's amazing how thinking of it that way makes the Arab perspective more "real" to me. Hmmm

Susanne said...

Carmen, thanks for your further comments. I think we are often defensive for our troops because we are raised to love and appreciate them so much. I have several relatives who have served in the armed forces so I think highly of them all. Maybe too highly so that it's hard for me to admit our troops are sinners and sometimes do very bad things.

Some Americans think apologizing or admitting mistakes or downright wrongs is unpatriotic. I think that is so evil to put our military in such high esteem that we cannot even speak against bad things they do. I've heard the Left makes government god, but I must counter that the Right often makes military our god. It's like "In our military we trust," and we rarely remember "if a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." So we trust in our military to do our dirty work, conveniently forgetting the root of our troubles is our own sinfulness. We need to heed II Chronicles 7:14 and find the REAL healing for our nation. Our military is stretched too thin. They are not our Savior...God is. And the sooner we realize that, the better. Otherwise, we will have more Afghanistans and Iraqs on our hands. :-/

Anyway, thanks much for your replies. As always, I enjoy hearing myself through your comments. :-D

Carmen S. said...

1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Ephesians tells us there is a time for everything. I think I struggle to understand God and His ways often. I think our society tells us these days we can do anything through means of peace. I don't see it that way. I think other parts of our society tell us that we can only accomplish things through war and force. I don't see it that way.

I do see it that there is a time for everything though.

Wars are nothing new. In fact, there were times God ordered his people to go into a land and destroy it. I still can't understand or wrap my thoughts around this concept. I know it to be in the Bible, and because I believe the Bible is God's word, true in every way, I have to believe it happened and it was for a reason that God has that I may not see, no matter whether I understand it or not.

This is not to say this war now is God's war. I am not saying that at all. I am simply saying that war, no matter where, when, or who it is between will be ugly, devastating, and I would never want to have to be a part.

I live in an area where I've never had to worry about a war on our soil and it's true, I am so blessed and fortunate for that. I don't think for a moment we'd step back and let others come in and occupy our country. I agree with Samer 100% there.

Anything else I would try to talk about or explain would probably further damage the image I've already so poorly portrayed so I best bow out now.

It was never my intention to hurt or diminish the lives lost. Please forgive me if I gave the impression that this is no big deal.

Niki said...

I too remember the "shock and awe". I guess in my naivete I thought that since they were bombing military and/or corrupt government facilities that those were the only ones being hurt or killed. Not that killing is ever okay, of course. But sometimes it is inevitable. Especially in this ungodly world.

It's also been said that civilians are never the target, but can become "collateral damage". (Didn't some corrupt officials intentionally bring children and other civilians into their facilities, knowing they would be bombed, so that they could demonize the American military and government? Or maybe I'm thinking of what Hamas, or whoever, did in Ghaza, in an attempt to demonize the Israelis.) Not that that is okay either. (The accidental killing of civilians.) It's just the way war is. It's dirty and ugly. And sometimes the bombs and bullets hit the wrong targets. Including our own troops.

As I said before, I didn't want us going into Iraq to begin with. But now that we're there, we (well, they) should do as much good as they can. I know that medical help has been brought to the Iraqi people that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Schools have been built. Other positive things have been done in Iraq by our troops.

Iraq appears to still be very unstable. Should we leave them to the terrorists and the leftovers of Saddam's regime? I don't know. It would seem cruel to me, in a way.

While the war in Iraq is quite different from WWII, I couldn't help but think of how our troops landed on the shores of France, parachuted into Europe, plowed through with our tanks, to save France and Europe from Hitler and the Nazis. They were grateful for our invading presence then. Seems like the French have forgotten that we saved their behinds. lol ;-)

Anyway, got a little off track. Where was I?

I was thinking today about how I would feel if Obama became a tyrant and turned our military against the people. What if we lost many lives and our homes trying to fight against him and couldn't win? I personally would *pray* that someone would send us help. Even knowing that civilians could be accidentally killed. Sometimes (actually, pretty much always) that's the price of freedom. I don't mean that cold-heartedly at all. I'm probably the most tenderhearted person I know. I cry easily.

How many men and civilians (who were sometimes deliberately killed by the British) died to gain our freedom from Great Britain? ("Give me liberty, or give me death.") How many men and civilians died to free Europe and the Pacific? (And perhaps even North America and other parts of the world, had we not been able to stop Hitler.) Did they die in vain?

I don't say that to minimize the losses and the deaths in Iraq. I haven't seen all of it. Probably not even half of it. But I've seen some pictures and video footage. The losses are heartbreaking. I have literally cried for them.

But what if it truly is darkest before the dawn? What if freedom can rise from the ashes? Freedom from terrorists (though I realize there will always be fools like that around, even if in small numbers) and those who would torture and murder their own countrymen, as Saddam did.

I can't say "it'll be worth it all" if/when freedom comes. That will be for the people of Iraq to say or not to say.

Niki said...

I meant to add that I don't know why we truly invaded Iraq. Some say this and some say that.

While, as I've said a couple times already, I didn't want us going there to begin with, mostly because we were already in Afghanistan and I believe we should've focused entirely on finding and stopping Bin Laden and those of his ilk, I'm glad that Saddam and his brothers were brought to justice. And I'm glad that our soldiers (who are not the same as our government) have been able to help the people of Iraq in any way that they can.

I'll also be glad when Iraq can stand on its own two feet and our soldiers can get out of there completely.