The Reality-Challenged Challengers to Cindy Sheehan

It is probably the fault of the media. Or maybe the failure of the public education system. Whosoever fault it is, the American citizens who have flocked to Crawford, Texas to say that Cindy Sheehan does not speak for them, and to demand that Cindy stop giving aid and comfort to "the enemy", know little about Iraq.

A couple of years ago, virtually no Iraqis would describe themselves as enemies of the U.S. Iraqis welcomed Americans as tourists and as guests. Iraqis came to America to study as university students and maintained close ties with Americans and with their relatives in America. There was no enmity between Iraqis and Americans.

What changed?

America invaded Iraq, illegally and brutally — that’s what changed. America’s military bombed Iraq and shattered the infrastructure. America’s military took away fresh water and electricity and air conditioning and basic comforts and necessities of life. America’s military occupied Iraq and began jailing Iraq’s citizens, breaking in doors at night in search of resisters to the invasion, and putting thousands of "suspects" in Abu Graib and other prisons. Americans began shooting suspicious vehicles, "lighting them up" with machine gun fire with Iraqi women and children inside. American soldiers began taking photos of themselves with nude Iraqi prisoners stacked like firewood or pyramids or smiling while military dogs barked and bit frightened Iraqi detainees.

The American military came to Iraq and brutalized, sodomized and humiliated the Iraqi people. That is what happened. And some Iraqis started fighting back against the illegal, brutal occupation, thus becoming "the enemy".

Cindy Sheehan wants to reverse the situation. There is no intrinsic reason Iraqis should be the enemies of Americans. If America withdrew the troops, the fighting would cease. Iraqis would not attempt to follow the American army back to America to battle us here. Iraqis would like to heal and restore their nation and live in peace and prosperity, but they cannot do so under the barrel of American guns and tanks and with warplanes and attack helicopters threatening their every move.

If not for oil, the U.S. Army would not be in Iraq, and the spectacular gamble to take over and control Iraq’s oil is not working, because Iraqis know that American success in controlling their oil is tantamount to colonial subjugation. Iraqis have been there and done that with colonial Britain and many would rather die than be subjugated. And so they fight on.

Cindy Sheehan has the right answer. The Anti-Sheehan’s are reality-challenged. Iraqis do not hate us for our freedoms, and would not be our enemies if we did not deny them their own freedoms. The American military is the problem, not the solution. The deaths of American soldiers are the American side of the pain caused by our occupation of Iraq. The deaths of Iraqis are the Iraqi share of the pain of occupation. When the occupation ends, the pain begins to subside and the healing can begin — not before.

Americans should get a grip on reality. If we were invaded, we would fight till the invaders left. That is what Iraqis are doing and will continue to do until they drive us out. Then, after a period of healing, we can become friends once again. Our enemies in Iraq are enemies of our own making. Let us never forget this reality.