Monday, August 01, 2005

Not In Their Names

…One of the ironic things about reading Milblogs based in Afghanistan or Iraq is how little undirected bloodthirstiness their authors have. They have Muslim friends. They have Muslim enemies. That almost sounds normal…

For a man who never been to Iraq, Wretchard is very perceptive. It is absurd that many anti-war activists are claiming to represent the interest of Iraqis. I just had a conversation with a few friends who oppose the war. They are nice folks who believe that they are looking out for the interest of Iraqis. My question is how many Iraqis do they personally know? Most probably answer none.

I do not claim to know the will of the Iraqis people since I do not know all of them. But I and other soldiers who deployed came to know many Iraqis – interpreters, soldiers, policemen, or workers on base. And natural as any other human-to-human setting, friendship developed – genuine and affectionate bond of brotherhood. And in many circumstances, language barrier is insufficient a barrier to people who want to make friends. Unlike anti-war activists, the term “Iraqis” is not an abstract term for men and women in uniforms. It has faces, names, and memories. Some we remember fondly.

I have seen both sides of the coins. I often wonder that how many of the Vietnam War protesters actually know any of us Vietnamese. And I am certain (despite having no imperial evidence) that they would reverse their position if they personally knew any of us. Today those former war protesters that changed their mind about their position during the war, almost every person came in contact with Vietnamese refugees living in America. Through the narrative of their friends, they came to regret their position they took during that conflict. I met a few of those. This is particularly true of school teachers who met young Vietnamese students – fresh out of the refugee camps and full of bitter memory. It is a role reversal, the students taught the teachers.

Christopher Hitchens conversion did not happened in the West. He changed his mind when he met real people with faces, names, and stories (hat tip to Neo-Neocon). Hitchens in an interview.

...I was bouncing around in a jeep with some Kurdish guerillas at that point. And on my side of the windshield, there was a big laminated picture of George H. W. Bush. And I said to them, "Look, comrades, do you have to do this? For one thing, I can't see out of my side of the windshield. But for another, I know quite a few reporters in this area and might run into one of them at any moment. And I don't want them seeing me in a jeep that has this guy's image on it. So do you have to?" And they said, quite soberly and solemnly to me, "No, we think we should have this picture because we think, without him, we would all be dead, and all our families would be dead, too." And from what I'd seen by then in that region, I thought, that's basically morally true. I don't have a reply to that. I don't have a glib one and I don't have a sound one. It's true. So at that point my criticism of the war became this: that it had not been a regime-change war, that the slogans of liberty and justice that had been used to mobilize it had not been honored. But if they had been, I would have been in favor of it. It's a narrow but deep crevasse to cross, and once you've crossed it, I'll tell you this, you can't go back over it again. You can't find yourself on the other side of it. Some of you may be in transition across this crevasse yourselves or be thinking about it. I warn you: don't cross over if you have any intention of going back, because you can't. You're stuck with it then. You're a prisoner of the knowledge of genocide and fascism, and you'll never break free of it—of that awareness. You will have made friends you can't desert...

I too have made friends that I cannot desert.

4 Comments:

Blogger Pedro said...

Minh-Duc, it's amazing what a little actual concrete experience will do to challenge naive and misguided "good intentions." You can't argue with experience.

8:32 PM  
Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

Minh-Duc, I don't claim to personally know the will of the Iraqi people either. But they voted. They elected their representatives, who are trying to form a constitution. They have the right to have a political process like any other people on the face of the earth.

So how can I not support the people who are trying to build a government agains those who are trying to disrupt the process by attacking and killing civilians and the elected representatives? Sometimes I think half our population lives in a mythical world of imagination.

6:20 AM  
Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

I'm here via Maxed Out Mama.

It is amazing that after all the billions of words expended on the subject of Iraq, the shortest distance between two points is still a straight line.

You say it well and clearly- and in the end, the tale cannot be spun any other way.

8:12 AM  
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6:03 PM  

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