Sophia's Peace Work

Saturday, November 06, 2004

"Remember Fallujah!"

The following is a recent communication that I sent to the State Department and the British Consul concerning Iraq. There is information at the end on how you can send your comments.

I am writing in concern over what seems to be an almost irreversible desire by some in the Bush Administration to solve every problem with a hammer. I spent about 9 months in the Middle East this year, most of which was spent in Iraq living in Baghdad (in what people living in the Green Zone refer to as the “Red Zone”). I worked independently with Iraqi NGO’s on environmental projects and also taught English at the University of Baghdad. During my time there I spoke to people in squatter and refugee camps, in homes, in hospitals, at universities and government ministries, and on the Baghdad streets. I believe that I had a unique opportunity to gauge the sentiments of ordinary Iraqis. I also saw a lot of behavior by the CPA and the international forces which I felt were ... to be charitable … misguided.

The decisions by the U.S. to lock up a huge section in the center of the city for the Green Zone, residing in the same structures as Saddam and the Baath Party and to take the Iraqi Presidential Palace and turn it into an American Embassy are certainly at the top of this list. How many lives have been and continue to be lost because we fail to see the disastrous symbolism in these acts?

And now the build up to attack in Fallujah. The U.S. will fail even if it pulverizes Fallujah into dust … the resistance will simply move elsewhere and the hearts and minds of Iraqis will be further hardened against the U.S. by the results of such an attack. These issues in Fallujah as in the Sunni Triangle in general may be difficult but they are not insolvable. You have a disenfranchised population that has been offered no assurance that its needs and rights will be respected in the new Iraqi state. Playing on these fears are international resistance fighters with a grudge against the U.S. (that have some legitimate roots that our government is never unwilling to face) and old-Baathist who resent their loss of power.

Attacking Fallujah does nothing to address these fundamental issues. They will simply rear their head up in another city with perhaps a different face and will likely be only more intractable to solve because now the resistance will have a new rallying cry to add to the ones they use already, “Remember Fallujah!”

United States: Secretary of State Colin Powell
State Department
Phone: 202.647.4000

United Kingdom: Rt Hon Edward Chaplin
British Consul, Baghdad, Iraq
(964) (0) 790.192.6280


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