Today terrorists attacked London. Four bombs blasted in parts of the city proper, simultaneously. The people were devastated and Prime Minister Tony Blair was not there. The Premier was meeting with Group of Eight leaders, and five heads of state in Gleneagles, Scotland. They were together for what is known as the G8 Summit. The talk was to be of global warming, aid to Africa, and other issues that unite us all. However, the discussion changed and Blair’s, participation would be delayed. He needed to return to London quickly.
Before his departure the host of the conference, Prime Minister of England, spoke. He addressed the press on behalf of the G8 leaders. Blair stated, “We will not allow violence to change our societies or our values; nor will we allow it to stop the work of this summit. We will continue our deliberations in the interest of a better world.” Later, from his residence at 10 Downing Street, Blair offered, “They are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, but they should know they will not succeed.”
Might those living in Iraq say the same; have they? They have. Iraqi citizens were and are trying to live a “normal” life. They too are not allowing violence to change their civilization or ethics. They continually work not to be frightened by the forces that besiege them. The people of Iraq believe that, in March 2003, they were going about their daily business when America, Britain, and the allies attacked.
Now, and for three long years, they feel that Americans and the alliance are “trying to use slaughter” and intimidation of innocents, to change their social order. Iraqi citizens huddle in their homes. They know not what the day will bring; however they can say, without hesitation, devastation and killing will occur. Iraqi’s are certain that on any given day, in any given moment, the allied armies may break down doors, enter homes, kill families, and do so in the name of justice and freedom. Innocent Iraqi’s will be maimed and murdered, just as those in London were today.
When the allied defenses began their invasion, Iraqi citizens spoke out. In April 2003, as America and its coalition assailed, the Canadian Broadcasting Network reported. The reports showed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians coalescing. The people of Baghdad hit the streets. They were protesting what they regarded as a U.S.-led foreign occupation. For these countrymen, women, and children, the liberators, otherwise known as Americans and the allies, were and are assaulting the guiltless. They were and are terrorizing the Iraqi homeland and hurting harmless people.
These self-proclaimed redeemers entered Iraq violently. Americans and the alliance were on a mission. They were going to “change the regime,” overthrow the government, and they did. Yet, they were not asked to do so. No one invited the Americans or the allied forces.
Actually, many Iraqi’s asked US forces to leave. However, the Whitehouse and mass media rarely report these requests. On Saturday, April 26, 2003, “At least six members of the same family were killed when a stash of Iraqi arms exploded in Baghdad.” US officials faulted the ousted Hussein government; yet, the locals saw it differently. This action provoked angry demonstrations. Iraq residents pelted US forces with stones, forcing them to retreat. Americans claimed to be taking the wounded to hospital. However, Iraqi’s believed, without American military, there would have been no wounded. Iraqi’s shouted, “No, no to America, yes, yes to Islam!” A banner waved, “The Americans are killing Iraqis with the weapons of Saddam Hussein.”
While at the hospital, Thamer, the eldest son of the fallen family, spoke as he stood weeping inconsolably. He said, “Does God accept this? We kept telling the Americans not to store explosives so close by. What happened? Why didn’t they listen to us?” After the incident, a distraught Ahmed Khilal, 18, expressed his grief. He sobbed, “I saw three dead women with my own eyes. One of my friends was killed. They pulled him out of the building covered with blood.” Do these tales sound familiar?
They are the human stories, those that we relate to when we see them on television or experience them ourselves. However, these personal accounts are rarely, if ever offered from Iraq. What we see, and therefore connect to, are American narratives, English anecdotes, and stories told by the Spaniards. The allied families are our focus. We see, hear, and read of anxious Americans, lamenting Londoners, and the cries of city dwellers in Spain. We know of their pain. It is Iraqi pain that we know little of.
In the Middle East hurt happens daily. Events such as those in Iraq are not as 9/11/2001, 3/11/2004, or 7/7/2005. They are not those that happen in a single day. They are not frozen in time; they occur every day!
When we listen to the words of the President of the United States, George W. Bush, the Spanish Premiere, JosÃ© Maria Aznar, or Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of England, we identify these as true. When we hear the words of Osama Bin Laden, we recoil. Yet, there are similarities.
On October 7, 2001, after the September 11, attacks the al-Qaida leader spoke, “Praise be to God and we beseech Him for help and forgiveness. God Almighty hit the United States at its most vulnerable spot. He destroyed its greatest buildings.” Bin Laden continued, “What the United States tastes today, is a very small thing compared to what we have tasted for tens of years. One million Iraqi children have thus far died in Iraq although they did not do anything wrong.”
Americans and the coalition find these words offensive. Osama bin Laden invokes the name of God; how dare he. Iraqi’s find the words of the alliance insulting. The Western World believes that God is on their side, and that those in the Middle East are “evil.” How can that be? Yet, it is. Each sees the other as “enemy.” Each justifies slaughter! This practice and philosophy may be universally true, or at least it is for American and al-Qaida leaders. The same is not valid for all of their victims.
Many of the common folk in the Persian Gulf experience the President, the Pentagon, and the coalition as subjugators. They came, they saw, and they conquered. Afghanistan and Iraq became battlefields; they still are. Bombs were and are blasting, guns blazing; a foreign influence, America, claims to be the savior. Yet, they are the source of ample antagonism. The Western world states it will deliver Iraqi’s from evil and yet, for many, it is the Americans that are evil. The United States government is a terrorist organization!
The American majority does not understand this. Rarely are they afforded an opportunity to hear from Iraqi citizens. However, during the recent Summer Olympics, Americans and Europeans were given the chance. In August 2004 President Bush was campaigning for the upcoming election. He touted his success; he as a leader was spreading freedom successfully. Political advertisements [see ad here] featuring Iraq as democracy triumphant were aired. These promotional pieces highlighted, the flags of Afghanistan and Iraq. A narrator spoke, “At this Olympics there will be two more free nations, and two fewer terrorist regimes.” These words inflamed the people of Iraq.
After an Olympic win, the Iraqi soccer team was interviewed, “Were they looking forward to their meeting with the President of the United States?” Iraqi midfielder Salih Sadir spoke calmly and directly, offering his thoughts. He spoke of meeting the President and these televised trailers, he said, “Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign. He can find another way to advertise himself.”
Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder, had an even stronger response when asked of the infomercial and the scheduled meeting with President Bush. He offered his comments to Grant Wahl, reporter for Sports Illustrated. Manajid said, “How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes.”
Adnan Hamad, the Olympian coach, expressed a similar sentiment. “The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?”
Yet, President Bush believes the actions of America and its allies are just. George Walker claims, “The contrast couldn’t be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill, those who’ve got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks.”
America kills. We the people of the United States intentionally and unilaterally chose to slaughter the innocent, or at least our leaders did. Killing is “evil,” according to Christians such as our President. The commandments specifically state, “Thou shall not kill.” However, Bush proudly proclaims, “death” to all those that defy his idea of democracy! Violence is the President’s vengeance!
For Iraqi’s soccer player, Sadir, 21, “I want the violence and the war to go away from the city. We don’t wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away.”
Manajid, 22, who nearly scored his own goal for his Iraqi team, resides in the city of Fallujah. He declares coalition forces killed his cousin, Omar Jabbar al-Aziz. The young man was fighting as an insurgent, with several of his friends. Frankly, Manajid says, ??if he were not playing soccer for his country, he would “for sure” be fighting as part of the resistance.’ Manajid expressed boldly, “I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?” Manajid retorts. “Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq.”
However, American and allied leaders tell us a different tale. They say this is a just war; the Iraqis had or have weapons of mass destruction and yet we know they did and do not. Bush and his battalion insist Saddam Hussein was a bad man and he needed to be taken out, “dead or alive.” This may be true, however, Hussein is one man, and we attacked a country of many.
American leaders wanted Saddam Hussein and yet, they went after the blameless. Young boys and girls, fathers, and mothers have become collateral damage. Civilians, the common-folk were quietly living their lives or at least trying to, and then America and the allies invaded. There were threats and there was terror. It continues.
This Thursday, July 7, 2005, President Bush invokes, we the leaders of G8 carry “a message of solidarity.” He continues, “The war on terror goes on . . . We will not yield to these people.” This is exactly what many in the Persian Gulf espouse.
Please consider the words of Max. He writes of London. MaxSpeak offers the words of “Red Ken” Livingstone, Mayor of London, “this was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful, it was not aimed at presidents or prime ministers, it was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian … young and old.” This missive is a powerful piece.
Steve Soto, The Left Coaster is for me, always a good read. I invite you to reflect on his most recent treatise, ‘What Good Is An “Anywhere But Here” Anti-Terror Policy?
For those that desire a glimpse of London living on and with death, the BBC reports.