Tuesday, October 05, 2004

From Mesopotamia, With Love.

Back in high school I was enthralled with the history of civilization and how it came to be. A favorite subject of mine was World History, taught by the incomparable Ma'am Tort. Through her I could imagine the might and power of the Athenian Navy, the spareness and military discipline of Sparta, the trade and barter of Babylon and Assyria.

Mesopotamia means "the land between two rivers", indicating the plain between the Tigris and Euphrates. It was the cradle of civilization, namely because the earliest written works were found to have originated there.

Now, we just call this place Iraq. Torn apart by war, struggling with poverty, and yet oil-rich, it's a shadow of its once-former glory, no thanks to Saddam Hussein, the Bush presidents, Tony Blair, to name just a few. Thanks to Operation Iraqi Freedom, 1,000 US soldiers have died, and many of those remaining have no idea what they're fighting for.

TheGuardian recently printed a couple of letters from soldiers and civilians based in Iraq to Michael Moore, who will be out with his latest book Will They Ever Trust Us Again? Letters from the Warzone to Michael Moore this October 7. Here are a couple from this Guardian article.

From: RH
To: mike@michaelmoore.com
Sent: Monday,
July 12, 2003 4:57 PM
Subject: Iraqi freedom veteran supports you

Dear Mr Moore,
I went to Iraq with thoughts of killing people who I thought were horrible. I was like, "Fuck Iraq, fuck these people, I hope we kill thousands." I believed my president. He was taking care of business and wasn't going to let al Qaeda push us around. I was with the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3rd Infantry division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia. My unit was one of the first to Baghdad. I was so scared. Didn't know what to think. Seeing dead bodies for the first time. People blown in half. Little kids with no legs. It was overwhelming, the sights, sounds, fear. I was over there from Jan'03 to Aug'03. I hated every minute. It was a daily battle to keep my spirits up. I hate the army and my job. I am supposed to get out next February but will now be unable to because the asshole in the White House decided that now would be a great time to put a stop-loss in effect for the army. So I get to do a second tour in Iraq and be away from those I love again because some guy has the audacity to put others' lives on the line for his personal war. I thought we were the good guys.

From: Kyle Waldman
Sent: Friday February 27 2004 2.35am
Subject: None

As we can all obviously see, Iraq was not and is not an imminent threat to the United States or the rest of the world. My time in Iraq has taught me a little about the Iraqi people and the state of this war-torn, poverty-stricken country.

The illiteracy rate in this country is phenomenal. There were some farmers who didn't even know there was an Operation Iraqi Freedom. This was when I realised that this war was initiated by the few who would profit from it and not for its people. We, as the coalition forces, did not liberate these people; we drove them even deeper into poverty. I don't foresee any economic relief coming soon to these people by the way Bush has already diverted its oil revenues to make sure there will be enough oil for our SUVs.

We are here trying to keep peace when all we have been trained for is to destroy. How are 200,000 soldiers supposed to take control of this country? Why didn't we have an effective plan to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure? Why aren't the American people more aware of these atrocities?

My fiancee and I have seriously looked into moving to Canada as political refugees.

Great civilizations often die out, but they have help from other nations.