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

 

 

More articles by:

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 

Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
The Fordist Academic
Frank Scott
Weapons of Mass Distraction Get More Destructive
Missy Comley Beattie
Big Dick Diplomacy
Michael Doliner
Democracy, Real Life Acting and the Movies
Dan Bacher
Jerry Brown tells indigenous protesters in Bonn, ‘Let’s put you in the ground’
Winslow Myers
The Madness of Deterrence
Cesar Chelala
A Kiss is Not a Kiss: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Jimmy Centeno
Garcia Meets Guayasamin: A De-Colonial Experience
Stephen Martin
When Boot Becomes Bot: Surplus Population and The Human Face.
Martin Billheimer
Homer’s Iliad, la primera nota roja
Louis Proyect
Once There Were Strong Men
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
David Yearsley
Academics Take Flight
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail