“The reality of the situation on the ground is that the bad guys are using women and children as human shields, and also coercing them into joining the fight. When this happens, they get drawn into the crosshairs of US forces. After we win the battle, the remaining terrorists/insurgents(the ones that got women and children to fight for them and themselves stayed in a safe place out of the line of fire) call al-Jazeera and/or al-Arabiya and proclaim that "the Americans are killing everyone, including women and children!"
“Ask yourself if you feel comfortable living in a world where governments were at the mercy of people who ask women and children to strap bombs to themselves. People who pick up a kid to shield themselves from bullets meant for them. People who enlist women and children to fight for them while they play the public relations spin game.”
– From a letter by an American reader commenting on my last article “From Mass Graves to Massacres.”
Not many people in the West are familiar with the terms of endearment with which parents in the Syrian Fertile Crescent , and the Arab world in general address their children: Ya Qalbi, “My heart”; Ya Rouhi, “My soul”; Ya 3aini, “My eye”; Ya Habibi, “My Love”; Ya Hayati, “My life”; and so on. These words carry the same warmth and affection as “Sweety”, “Sweetheart”, “Dear” and “My Love”; terms of endearment with which American parents address their children. To insinuate that an Arab parent sends his or her own son or daughter to become a suicide bomber points to ignorance about this people, their love and affection to their children and their misery under the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the American occupation of Iraq.
It also implies that Arab parents are genetically predisposed to the most horrendous acts of terrorism. That they would not shy from strapping an explosive belt to the waist of their own children – at least those who survive being used as human shields –” and send them to their death. This argument is simplistic and erroneous. It conveniently ignores the aforementioned occupations. It could be summarised as such:
“The American ‘good guys’ came to liberate the poor Iraqis from a despotic dictator, Saddam Hussein, who threatened the US and the rest of the world with Weapons of Mass Destruction. He is the same dictator who used chemical weapons against his own people. The remnants of his regime, the ‘bad guys’, are using women and children as human shields, who become drawn into the American ‘crosshairs’. Unfortunately, this mostly happens when the Americans drop one of their 500 ton bombs. Since they cost lots of money, the Americans would not use such bombs unless they are absolutely sure that a real bad guy was in the neighbourhood. Hence civilian deaths (collateral damage) are to be blamed on the ‘bad guys'”. (To paraphrase another part of the same letter)
This argument also conveniently ignores that Saddam was a darling of the two Reagan administrations who supplied him with chemical weapons to use against the Iranians, the really “bad” guys. Saddam’s usage of some of those chemicals against the Kurds of his own country did not stir even a flinch from the Americans. Saddam was such a darling to the extent that when his army fired an Exocet missile into an American ship in the Gulf and sank it, the Reagan administration considered it an accident and closed the file. By the way, Donald Rumsfeld, the current Secretary of Defence, was a regular visitor to Saddam during those years. His photos shaking hands with the Iraqi dictator about the same time when he was bombing his people with chemicals have been making the rounds on the internet.
Back to the bad guys who hide behind women and children and are so crafty that they collect the evidence from among their dead after the Americans “win the battle.” The same argument was used by the Israelis when they besieged and bombed Beirut for three months in 1982. They justified their aerial bombardment of high-rise buildings by claiming that the “Terrorists” were hiding in civilian neighbourhoods. The Israelis did not want anyone to ask them what they were doing in Beirut. The Americans don’t want to be asked what they are doing in Iraq. However, it is hypocritical and presumptuous, I believe, for one country to occupy another and to declare the natives who oppose its occupation as “insurgents” and “bad guys”.
The Iraqis did not like living under Saddam and they tried to overthrow him several times during his brutal regime. Those attempts failed. Until he invaded Kuwait, Saddam was an American protected client. After he was dislodged from Kuwait, the Americans promised support to two rebellions against him, one by the Kurds in the North, another by Shia in the South. They reneged on those promises and abandoned the rebels along with thousands of civilians to a bloody fate at the hands of Saddam.
Nobody likes living in a world dominated by terror and suicide bombing, but one has to distinguish between cause and effect. Suicide bombing is the result of two potent feelings combined: despair and vengeance. Despair at the inability to dislodge an ugly occupation supported by the most powerful nation on earth, and vengeance for innocent loved ones killed.
It is hard to imagine living in a world dominated by terror. But imagine the terror of living in a world dominated by a superpower whose leaders behave like self appointed “Helpers of God.” Leaders who have no compunction about supporting Israel in “gathering” its so called “exiles,” while exiling a whole people, and claiming such a crime as the fulfillment of God’s will; as expediting the “Second coming of Christ.”
Imagine the horror of living in a country whose President evades military service but sends young men and women to their deaths under false pretences. Imagine living in a country where politicians use “spin” to convince bereaved mothers and fathers that their children died for a worthy cause, knowing full well that those kids died because those politicians had lied.
Imagine the horror of living in a country whose consecutive administrations have abandoned their country’s proclaimed raison d’Ãªtre: Justice to the oppressed and freedom to the enslaved.
Imagine the horror of living in a country that has lost its moral compass; which proclaims democracy but supports tyranny.
Imagine the horror of living in a country whose President gives what he does not own, Palestinian Rights, to a war criminal, Sharon, in order to get his support for re-election to a position he does not deserve.
Imagine the horror of living in a world dominated by a United States of America ruled by George W. Bush and his team of White House neo-cons.
Imagine the horror of living in a world dominated
by those “good guys”.