Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Cast In Stone

As we grow up, we are eventually told of war, and we listen as it is explained to us that there are certain facts of war.

War is terrible. It is awful. A lot of people die. But, it is necessary, it is an unpleasant reality that cannot be avoided. War always has been and it always will be. There's no escaping it.

But why? we ask. Why is there war when it is so terrible?

Because, we are told, there are evil people in the world. People in far away places who would harm us if we couldn't defend ourselves. They would pour into our country and kill everyone. They would try to take over our country and destroy us, or enslave us, and we cannot allow that to happen.

No, of course not, we say. But why are there such people? What is wrong with them that they are so hateful and mean?

Well, there is no way to understand the enemy. They are just different, too different to be able to see eye to eye with us, or to live and let live.

What is different about them?

Well, they eat strange food and wear strange clothing and their language is impossible to understand. They are uncivilized and brutal. They are inhuman. Cruel to their wives and children. They don't love their children like we do. They don't respect life like we do. They don't love God like we do. They don't have values like we do, like honesty or reason, fairness or caring or kindness. All they know is hate and war and conquering. They are always watching, listening, waiting for any opportunity to catch us off guard, then they would attack.

The enemy, we are told, is always bad. And we are always good.
There is no other way than this.

It is a fact cast in stone.

How many foreign countries are we at war with today? In how many countries at this very moment are people dying at our hands or at the hands of others we have trained and armed and paid and sent to do our killing?

We wouldn't be there if it wasn't necessary to protect our freedom.

How many years have we been at war in Iraq? What's it like there now?

Five whole years this time around; and a decade ago we were there doing war. And then there were the sanctions.

A million of them died the last time, half of them children. A million more have died this time, over half of them children under 14. At least a million are homeless.

Finding a safe place to be must be hard when you have nothing.

The unemployment rate is over 80% in Baghdad alone, money is hard to come by, even for the barest necessities.

Millions are displaced, their homes and schools and neighborhoods bombed and destroyed, dangerous if they're even left standing.

They have little to no electricity, maybe an hour or two a day.

It's so hot there.

They have no clean running water and are dying from the expected unavoidable diseases of drinking unclean water. They have no toilet paper.

What would you do without water or toilet paper?

Their babies are dying of illnesses that are easy to treat, if they had the simple things needed to treat them, but they don't. Many are dying from all of the things people need treatment for because there are no supplies.

They have no medical supplies for the wounded and cannot treat the sick, the cancer patients, children who's lives could be saved with a simple IV. Hospitals are bombed or closed, doctors are few and far between, and food is hard to come by. They are forced to beg for a few pennies for some food or medicine, living in tents or abandoned chicken coops, anywhere they can find to huddle and hide away from the bombing. It is quite hopeless for tens of thousands of them. Their suffering is great.

Entire sections of their cities have been turned to dust and rubble and ashes. Their history, their heritage, their memories, their loves and hopes, decimated.

Because they are the enemy? Weren't we told only terrorists are the enemy? Are they all terrorists? All of them? Even their babies?

They are not all terrorists, but many of them are insurgents, and that's just as bad. It cannot be tolerated. They are dangerous to our troops, and to each other under these conditions.

The enemy has not come to my city, where I live. He has not prevented anyone from receiving their paycheck. He has not stopped the flow of food to our stores, or products of any kind that meet our needs and wants. He has not blocked the flow of medical supplies, and our children are not dying of rampant illnesses.

My house is still standing, and so is everyone else's house. Our hospitals are open and stocked and are serving people getting boob jobs and having broken legs fixed and getting their gall bladders removed, it's business as usual, albeit expensive, but that's not the enemy's doing.

The enemy is not raining down bombs on my neighborhood, or on my parents neighborhood, or anyone's neighborhood here. He is not armed to the teeth while I am helpless, pointing his guns at my head. He is not blowing up our nursery schools or places of employment. He is not riding down our streets in tanks at any hour he chooses, blasting away at anything that moves. He has not cut off my water supply, or tainted it.

He is not going house to house and barging in, forcing women to dress or undress as he watches, or shooting the men just because they are men. He is not taking away our brothers and fathers and uncles and grandfathers and throwing them into prison camps where they are tortured every day for hours and hours, given horrible food, horrible treatment, and are defiled. They are not sexually humiliating anyone here, or locking them up without cause, or forcing them at gunpoint to defile themselves and each other while they look on, enjoying their misbegotten power.

The enemy has not built 14 sprawling permanent military bases in my country. He has not razed our biggest city to build the world's largest embassy in the middle of a war zone, for some reason known only to him. He has not interfered with our governance, or our elections, or our religious leaders, or our politicians. He has not caused rampant unemployment or homelessness.

But we have done all of those things to him. And more.

The enemy is not hurting me. He has never hurt me. I've never even met him. I've never been to where he lives, and he's never been here. We are perfect strangers. He is suffering and dying, and I am fine.

Because he is bad and I am good.

And that is cast in stone.


  1. Wow, Amazing post. Thanks for dealing with such a stomach churning, heart rending issue.

    You might really dig the writings of an Iraqi woman bloggers who describes life in a war zone firsthand. They are quite mindblowing.

    an example, "Fading Away"

  2. Thanks for the informative and interesting blog!

  3. Anonymous8:55 AM


  4. Anonymous1:05 PM

    That was a powerful post, and eloquent. Thank you.