Thursday, August 19, 2004


I don't know the full extent of the debate going on in the States right now of should we or shouldn't we have gone into Iraq, but it sounds like it's pretty strong from what I read on the web. I don't know if any of you are people who need convincing, but let me tell you some of what I've seen and heard and my opinions based on those first-hand observations and second-hand tellings.

To me, whether or not Saddam had WMD on hand here in Iraq and was planning on using them is somewhat irrelevant. Now, the people here are convinced that he had them - they can even point out the mosques where he stored them (in violation of the Geneva Convention, I believe, but at the very least in violation of common decency). There is no doubt in the minds of the local people here that Saddam had WMD or that he was willing and ready to use them. Where they are now is anyone's guess, but that they existed in the recent past is common knowledge locally.

But like I said, I see that as irrelevant. The human rights travesties that Saddam perpetrated alone were enough, imo, to warrant the actions taken by the Coalition in invading, then occupying Iraq. "My" section of town is one that is predominantly Shia'a. That section has been basically cut off from public utilities (water, power, sewer) for the past 12 years (since the Shia'a uprising following the first Gulf War). What WATSAN they had was done as quickly as possible by the cheapest bidder using the lowest grade materials possible (they were given 2 months to replace the sewage system in Sadr City - which houses ~2 million of Baghdad's ~6 million people). Previously, there had been the chemical attacks against the Kurds in the north and the Shia'a in the south (resulting the mass graves that are still being unearthed). He had drained the marshland in the south simply to spite the Shia'a whose several-thousand-year-old culture was based on the marshes. This not only destroyed their culture and means of survival, but it has also affected the climate both in Iraq and in other countries like Kuwait. Medicines weren't included in the embargo against Iraq, but it was still next-to-impossible for many (especially those outside of Baghdad) to get them because Saddam would purposely store them in warehouses in Baghdad until they'd expired, then he'd have to burn them. I've heard countless stories of imprisionment, exhorbitant punishments - I've even seen videos of Saddam celebrating after he put explosives in a man's breast pocket, then watched as they were ignited.

Honestly, the only difference I see between Saddam and Hitler is that the world allowed Hitler to commit acts of genocide within his own population and didn't act to stop him until he began invading other countries, while the Coalition stepped in while Saddam was still "content" with just killing and harming his own people. But what if Hitler had been stopped when he was "content" to purge just Germany of the Jews? What if the world had stepped in before he began invading other countries? What if we (or someone) had said that it wasn't ok for him to murder his own nation's people and had stopped him at that point? What if we'd heard rumors that he was in the process of researching the a-bomb and acted based on that intelligence? It seems to me that it is only even possible to say that there was no reason for this war because we nipped Saddam in the bud BEFORE he'd had a chance to do anything to people outside of his own country.

The lives lost here haven't been in vain. We should have come because Saddam was (is) a horrible man who was commiting heinous acts on people. He needed to be stopped, whether he had WMD or not.

That mistakes have been made along the way is obviously true and it's very easy to see in hindsight what could and should have been done differently...but from my first-hand experience here and from the stories told me by local Iraqi people, if anything, we waited too long to act.

This, of course, opens the debate about whether or not we should become the "world's policeman" and if we have the right to impose our moral values on others...and I guess I'm gonna punt on that (for now) at least, except to say that some things are just wrong and should be stopped, regardless of who's doing them to whom and where.

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