Regarding the "no blood for oil" signs (which I saw in abundance), I will concede that the U.S. probably harbors economic interests in Iraq, and this is to be expected. This may very well be a motivation of countries who oppose the United States and Britain as well. However, economic interests do not preclude a genuine concern for the well-being of the Iraqi people and a desire to liberate them from repression under Saddam Hussein -- a job I believe we ought to have accomplished more than a decade ago.
One furious activist tried to sell me a pamphlet announcing the arrival of World War III, informing me that our troops were "currently massacring innocents in Iraq". Granted, innocents have been inadverdently killed (as usually happens in a war), but by all appearances our military is taking numerous precautions to minimize civilian casualties.
Moreover, images of Iraqi civilians greeting troops and literally dancing in liberated towns suggest that many Iraqis may respond to the action of the United States with as much appreciation as Afghani citizens welcomed the overthrow of the Taliban last year.This, at least, was the conclusion of one former "human shield" returning from Iraq:
A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."
United Press International 3/21/03
I have no illusions about the number of things that are wrong in this country, and share some of the protestor's concerns regarding policies of the present administration (especially the infringement and violation of civil liberties occuring since 9/11) -- but, contrary to what I saw today, there is absolutely no comparison to the perpetual horrors that the Iraqi people have endured under Hussein. To the protestors who portrayed America and Iraq as being "morally equivalent", I'd like to point out that:
- Prisoners in America, political or otherwise, do not have holes drilled into bones, limbs cut off by an electric saw, or eyes gauged out.
- Players on American sports teams aren't subjected to brutal torture when they perform badly.
- American women suspected of prostitution or adultery aren't subject to public execution by decapitation.
- American critics of President Bush aren't blackmailed with videotape of their relatives being raped, presumably by an individual employeed as a professional rapist responsible for the "violation of women's honor".
In the face of the evils that occur under Saddam, refraining from implementing a "regime change", and leaving the people of Iraq to suffer, seems to me to be nothing less than an offense against justice. And yet, in what I simply fail to understand, refraining from such action appears to be the precise wish of some (perhaps the majority?) of the protestors I saw today -- and to that I respectfully voice my dissent.
- Systematic Torture of Political Prisoners in Iraq, Amnesty International.
- Record of Human Rights Abuses, Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.
- Human Rights Watch: Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan
- Indict established in late 1997 to campaign for the creation of an ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal to try the Iraqi regime on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- Photographic Evidence, Documentation Center for Human Rights in Iraq. [NOTE: Graphic imagery of torture victims!].
- Human Rights Reports, from The Iraq Foundation, non-profit, non-governmental organization working for democracy and human rights in Iraq.
- Iraqi Research & Documentation Project, documenting the repressive policies of the Iraqi government.
- Women for a Free Iraq