[Marxism] "Just go"

Derek Seidman derekseidman at yahoo.com
Sat May 8 13:00:38 MDT 2004

>From a young Iraqi woman living in Baghdad ...

Friday, May 07, 2004
Just Go...

People are seething with anger- the pictures of Abu
Ghraib and the Brits in Basrah are everywhere. Every
newspaper you pick up in Baghdad has pictures of some
American or British atrocity or another. It's like a
nightmare that has come to life. 

Everyone knew this was happening in Abu Ghraib and
other places… seeing the pictures simply made it all
more real and tangible somehow. American and British
politicians have the audacity to come on television
with words like, "True the people in Abu Ghraib are
criminals, but…" Everyone here in Iraq knows that
there are thousands of innocent people detained. Some
were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time,
while others were detained 'under suspicion'. In the
New Iraq, it's "guilty until proven innocent by some
miracle of God". 

People are so angry. There’s no way to explain the
reactions- even pro-occupation Iraqis find themselves
silenced by this latest horror. I can’t explain how
people feel- or even how I personally feel. Somehow,
pictures of dead Iraqis are easier to bear than this
grotesque show of American military technique. People
would rather be dead than sexually abused and degraded
by the animals running Abu Ghraib prison. 

There was a time when people here felt sorry for the
troops. No matter what one's attitude was towards the
occupation, there were moments of pity towards the
troops, regardless of their nationality. We would see
them suffering the Iraqi sun, obviously wishing they
were somewhere else and somehow, that vulnerability
made them seem less monstrous and more human. That
time has passed. People look at troops now and see the
pictures of Abu Ghraib… and we burn with shame and
anger and frustration at not being able to do
something. Now that the world knows that the torture
has been going on since the very beginning, do people
finally understand what happened in Falloojeh?

I'm avoiding the internet because it feels like the
pictures are somehow available on every site I visit.
I'm torn between wishing they weren't there and
feeling, somehow, that it's important that the whole
world sees them. The thing, I guess, that bothers me
most is that the children can see it all. How do you
explain the face of the American soldier, leering over
the faceless, naked bodies to a child? How do you
explain the sick, twisted minds? How do you explain
what is happening to a seven-year-old? 

There have been demonstrations in Baghdad and other
places. There was a large demonstration outside of the
Abu Ghraib prison itself. The families of some of the
inmates of the prison were out there protesting the
detentions and the atrocities… faces streaked with
tears of rage and brows furrowed with anxiety. Each
and every one of those people was wondering what their
loved ones had suffered inside the walls of the hell
that makes Guantanamo look like a health spa. 

And through all this, Bush gives his repulsive
speeches. He makes an appearance on Arabic tv channels
looking sheepish and attempting to look sincere,
babbling on about how this 'incident' wasn't
representative of the American people or even the
army, regardless of the fact that it's been going on
for so long. He asks Iraqis to not let these pictures
reflect on their attitude towards the American people…
and yet when the bodies were dragged through the
streets of Falloojeh, the American troops took it upon
themselves to punish the whole city. 

He's claiming it's a "stain on our country's honor"...
I think not. The stain on your country's honor, Bush
dear, was the one on the infamous blue dress that made
headlines while Clinton was in the White House... this
isn't a 'stain' this is a catastrophe. Your
credibility was gone the moment you stepped into Iraq
and couldn't find the WMD... your reputation never

So are the atrocities being committed in Abu Ghraib
really not characteristic of the American army? What
about the atrocities committed by Americans in
Guantanamo? And Afghanistan? I won't bother bringing
up the sordid past, let's just focus on the present.
It seems that torture and humiliation are common
techniques used in countries blessed with the American
presence. The most pathetic excuse I heard so far was
that the American troops weren't taught the
fundamentals of human rights mentioned in the Geneva
Convention… Right- morals, values and compassion have
to be taught. 

All I can think about is the universal outrage when
the former government showed pictures of American POWs
on television, looking frightened and unsure about
their fate. I remember the outcries from American
citizens, claiming that Iraqis were animals for
showing 'America's finest' fully clothed and unharmed.
So what does this make Americans now? 

We heard about it all… we heard stories since the very
beginning of the occupation about prisoners being made
to sit for several hours on their knees… being
deprived of sleep for days at a time by being splashed
with cold water or kicked or slapped… about the
infamous 'red rooms' where prisoners are kept for
prolonged periods of time… about the rape, the
degradations, the emotional and physical torture… and
there were moments when I actually wanted to believe
that what we heard was exaggerated. I realize now that
it was only a small fragment of the truth. There is
nothing that is going to make this 'better'. Nothing. 

Through all of this, where is the Governing Council?
Under what rock are the Puppets hiding? Why is no one
condemning this? What does Bremer have to say for
himself and for the Americans? Why this unbearable

I don't understand the 'shock' Americans claim to feel
at the lurid pictures. You've seen the troops break
down doors and terrify women and children… curse,
scream, push, pull and throw people to the ground with
a boot over their head. You've seen troops shoot
civilians in cold blood. You've seen them bomb cities
and towns. You've seen them burn cars and humans using
tanks and helicopters. Is this latest debacle so very
shocking or appalling? 

The number of killings in the south has also risen.
The Americans and British are saying that they are
'insurgents' and people who are a part of Al-Sadir's
militia, but people from Najaf are claiming that
innocent civilians are being killed on a daily basis.
Today the troops entered Najaf and there was fighting
in the streets. This is going to cause a commotion
because Najaf is considered a holy city and is
especially valuable to Shi'a all over the world. The
current situation in the south makes one wonder who,
now, is going to implement a no-fly zone over areas
like Falloojeh and Najaf to 'protect' the people this
time around? 

I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions
or make suggestions. Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape,
don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can-
while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos?
Civil war? Bloodshed? We’ll take our chances- just
take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons,
your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises,
your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go. 

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