FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Look Them in the Eye

by KATHY KELLY

On Day 6 of a 30 day “Walk for Justice,” our team of fourteen walkers rested after covering 10 miles of a planned 320 mile walk across central Illinois.

While most of us sank into overstuffed chairs and couches to examine our blisters, Milan Rai, a UK activist and author, went on line to study the news. “Better look at this,” he said. “The LA Times reports that Iraqis in Ramadi are desperate to flee impending attacks and some are seeking shelter in Fallujah. They’ve been without water and electricity for days.

Panicked by fears of an imminent attack by U.S. troops massed around the city, many of the 400,000 residents of Ramadi have poured out of the city hoping to escape the mounting crisis. At checkpoints leading to Baghdad, hundreds of families were turned away. What do they face if they remain in Ramadi?

If the 2004 Battle of Fallujah is a precursor for an attack against Ramadi, the U.S. military may cordon off an escape route for women and children, but forbid the men and older boys to leave. It’s also possible that the U.S. military will launch an offensive attack even if civilians remain trapped and have nowhere to flee and no means of getting food, medicine and water into the city.

The U.S. government claimed success because its forces hunted down and eliminated Abu Musab Zarqawi. Zarqawi must be killed, we were told, because he took hostages, brutalized them, and killed them. Now it appears that U.S. policy makers are holding a whole city hostage, brutalizing civilians and preparing to kill many of them. Assuredly, the frustration and rage felt by hundreds of thousands of people in Ramadi and beyond can create many more “Zarqawis.”

I visited Ramadi in the summer of 2002, shortly after having been with Palestinian refugees in the Jenin camp, on the West Bank, while the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) used conventional military weapons to attack a civilian population living in the camp during April, 2002.

I showed people in Ramadi several enlarged photos which our small team of peace activists had taken in the Jenin camp. One picture showed young boys helping their fathers and uncles unearth corpses for burial while the camp was still under siege. Another was of Palestinians walking over heaps of rubble covering the foundations of what had once been their three story apartment buildings. Still another showed IDF graffiti on the walls of ransacked homes. The people with whom we met, in Ramadi, were deeply concerned and troubled. Why didn’t any substantial political, human rights or relief groups come to the aid of the refugees living in Jenin? Now, even as President Bush assures that he has looked in the eyes of the Iraqi government and won’t let Iraqis down, it seems that world bodies may look the other way as President Bush and the Pentagon plan a military attack against the civilian population of Ramadi.

In the towns that we visit, here in Central IL, I don’t think many people are thinking much about small town Iraq. Some people firmly believe the U.S. war in Iraq is necessary. “Gotta fight ’em there or they’ll attack us here,” a trucker told us, leaning out of his window. ” I wish we would have just dropped a big bomb and done the job.” But while we walk along the road, we realize that support for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is weak. “Thumbs up” signs, friendly waves, and encouraging honks far outnumber the negative responses to our placards that say “End Iraq War” and “Rebuild the U.S. Rebuild Iraq”

Tomorrow, half of our walkers, on an “emergency” detour from the walk, will return to Springfield, IL, the state capitol, and risk arrest at Senator Richard Durbin’s office. We will read the names of people who have been killed in Iraq and urge Senator Durbin to denounce any U.S. plans for a military offensive against Ramadi.

We’ll also present a quote from President Lincoln, whose memory is revered here in a state that calls itself “The Land of Lincoln.” During his one term in the House of Representatives, Lincoln denounced the war against Mexico as unnecessary and unconstitutional. He derided President Polk for deciding to begin a war which took from Mexico territory that now comprises the entire states of California, New Mexico, and Texas, plus parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah. “God of heaven has forgotten to defend the weak and innocent,” said Lincoln, in a speech before the House which is as appropriate now as it was then, “and permitted the strong band of murderers and demons from hell to kill men, women, and children, and lay waste and pillage the land of the just.”

If President Bush were to deliver these words, perhaps he could look in the eyes of people in Ramadi and discuss security and freedom.

KATHY KELLY is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams and a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a Chicago based campaign to end U.S. military and economic war against Iraq, www.vcnv.org She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org

 

 

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org  This article was first published on Telesur English.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
Charles R. Larson
A Review of Mary Roach’s “Grunt”
David Yearsley
Stuck in Houston on the Cusp of the Apocalypse
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail