Jarring propaganda: At left,
the father of this four-year-old girl, an Iraqi army officer, has yet to
come home. At right, David Toughill of the
British 7th Armored Brigade ("Desert Rats") plays with a girl
in Zubayr. (AFP photo by Ahmad Al-Rubaye at left, Pooled Reuters photo
A note to the American and
British troops in Iraq
Your leaders in London and Washington sent you
there with the best of intentions. You are to rid Iraq of a
warmongering dictator who used weapons of mass destruction to
oppress his own people, massacring tens of thousands. You
know what a terrible responsibility it is to have those weapons,
because they are also at your disposal.
It is a worthy end, but one that is to be
achieved with the direst of means: the invasion and occupation
of a contained, pacified Arab state, inevitably causing the
deaths of many innocent Iraqis, the very people who are to
benefit from your actions. Does the end justify
such means? Since it is not your normal prerogative as soldiers
to ask that question, please know that there are those back home
who can, and do, according to the constitutional principles you
have sworn to uphold with your lives.
are there to liberate the Iraqi people, not to kill them for
your immediate safety -- even though that is what you
have been occasionally forced to do. It is their land, their homes you're
trespassing now. It is their parents, siblings, spouses and
children you've been slaughtering, in battle or otherwise.
Karem al-Khafaj thought he was bringing his family to
safety when they fled Nasiriyah for the village of Al Hillal.
The village came under attack by US helicopters, and in the carnage
Karem lost his father, mother, two brothers, wife and six
children. (AP photo by Ali Heider)
April 1, 2003, US marines killed seven unarmed women and
children at a checkpoint near Najaf, for failing to stop their
It was not the first
time deadly force had gone astray; it was not to be the last.
one, not even your enemy, doubts your courage and honor. No one forgets
that you, too, suffer death and injury amongst your ranks. Should you ever
wonder why your toil and sacrifice would seem so out of place, please
The Iraqis, at least those fortunate enough to have
survived your onslaught, are indeed celebrating the passing of their
murderous tyrant at the present moment. Once the euphoria subsides and the
looting is done, they must come to terms with the fact that, contrary to
the lies that have been force-fed to them by their government since 1979,
they are and have long been a defeated people. The fate of their war-torn
country must again be decided in part by foreigners, as it was in colonial
Be wary of overstaying your welcome. The Iraqis still
remember you as the forces that have impoverished them under twelve years
of economic sanctions. To them, you represent the powers that founded and
defended Israel, upon lands that once belonged to their Palestinian
brethren. To them, you appear to act as proxies of outsiders that covet
their reserves of oil, the second largest in the world.
Now, your overwhelming superiority of strength
brings immediate destruction and shame to a proud people, who
see themselves as caretakers of Mesopotamia, the cradle of
Western civilization. Some of them will fight on, resorting to guerilla
tactics against impossible odds, just to restore their
pride. Respect these defenders as you capture them en masse,
granting them the pride they inherently deserve, even if they
are too defeated to show it.
Wars cannot be fought without death and
suffering at both sides. You are there, voluntarily, to do a job
few would do, however one that many do deem necessary.
Please end this war soon, as only you know how.
You are dearly missed at home.
Charles Weng, 2 April 2003, revised 9
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