A voice of conscience

Associated Press, 23 May 2004 -- Iraqi girl Kholood, 2, lies in a bed in the hospital in Ramadi, 110 km west of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday May 23, 2004. Kholood was injured by shrapnel into her back when U.S. helicopters fired on a wedding party in the remote desert near the border with Syria, killing more than 40 people, Wednesday May 19, 2004. Kholood lost her parents and four of her brothers and sisters during the attack. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)


Since the despicable images of abuse – American soldiers torturing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, Israeli army demolishing Palestinian homes at Rafah, Gaza – began to saturate the media in April and May of 2004, I wanted to post another expression of protest.

This time, I will not borrow the now-infamous photos from Abu Ghraib to illustrate this piece: the world has seen enough of them. Instead, the photo at left underscores yet another of the many, many aspects of things going very awry in Iraq.

I am utterly disgusted and disillusioned by the American war effort in Iraq, and the Israeli war effort in its occupied territories. I am ashamed of them, and for them.


I hold even less sympathy for the enemies of America and Israel. That the Iraqi insurgents would carry out their share of murderous depravity, prolonging a pointless struggle instead of focusing their resources on rebuilding their own country in the wake of Saddam’s tyranny, is beyond comprehension. That the Palestinian militants care more about martyrdom than the immediate welfare of their own people, knowing fully well that the Israeli army has no compunction about taking ten Arab lives -- children and the elderly included -- for every Jew they kill, is beyond hope.

My overall position on these crises remains unchanged.

George W Bush and Tony Blair, woefully misinformed and misguided, should never have led their countries and allies to war in Iraq under false pretenses vis-à-vis terrorist associations and weapons of mass destruction. Now that they did, they have no choice but to clean up the mess they created, and accept the help of other world leaders to rebuild this once-great nation.

Instead of building walls and assassinating Palestinian leaders, Israel – from its perennial position of strength – should make serious concessions to win their neighbors’ favor, returning lands and dismantling its settlements. The Palestinians, in turn, must cooperate with their bitter enemies, disbanding Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Fatah, while converting their schools, hospitals and media outlets into transparent public institutions.

Are these but the inconsequential rants of the recalcitrant left, from one as stubborn as the world leaders he presumes to criticize? Perhaps they are just that to the rest of the world, but for me, they are a cathartic expression of conscience in the midst of overwhelming evil.

-- CW, 23 May 2004


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