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July 25, 2007

Can We Handle The Truth? Iraq

This past Sunday, Firedoglake hosted a truly extraordinary online chat with a Dr. Maryam, an Iraqi pediatric oncologist who runs a refugee camp for Iraqi children orphaned by the American war.

She pulls no punches. This is a voice we haven't heard much here in the US, but it's one we desperately need to hear. Excerpts are below.

Brace yourselves.

Thank you for your welcome.

What shall we talk about today you and I?


I am in Europe buying and arranging for supplies of medications to be brought. When I am in Irak I live in and run a refugee camp for children whose parents have been murdered by the American war against my people. I will be back there in a few days. For obvious reasons I will not under any circumstances detail my movements to any American.


Q: In the days of Saddam, all Americans felt that the Iraqi people were good, and the Iraqi government was bad. Is there a similar feeling in Iraq about the American people and our government?

Stop telling lies to yourself American. We know that your racist brutal murdering war criminal troops came from your society and reflect its values. we know that because we see how they behave and have to bury their victims. If you are stupid enough to think we feel anything but hatred and contrempt for your soldiers and the country that sent them to make war on my people then you are a fool.

As to Saddam, bad though he was your country is far worse.


"The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I’m about to introduce them to it."

[That quote] is from a senior American officer. It is a perfect example of how your troops regard us. Which is why we highlight it.


Q: If I were an Iraqi my thinking might go something like this. President Bush is doing these atrocities in my country. And the American people elected this man not once, but twice.

As I am an Iraki and as my job is to treat children maimed and deformed by the weapons your country uses and then prevented me from getting the medicines used to treat those cancers you will forgive me if I tell you that you too are telling lies to yourself. What we know is that when it comes murdering Iraki civilians that there is no difference between the cynical and corrupt party called the Democrats and the cynical and corrupt party called the Republicans. Both are infected with the belief that America has the right to behave as it wishes especially when the people being killed are not white.


Q: I don't think [Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds] lived in peace before. If they weren't fighting each other it's because Saddam enforced some semblance of order.

Wrong. We lived in peace for centuries.

And Saddam was no friend of the Kurds or the Shia.

So how came it that 60% of the officer corps was Shia? Saddam was brutal in his response to rebellion. He did not particularly care which sect you were a member of. What he was interested in was whether you were loyal to him or not.


How does it feel to know that your country "the shining city on the hill" is not only well into genocidal territory but has been for a long time.


Nobody cares what your stupid congress thinks or does. Your country is defeated the only question now is the scale of the defeat.

It is not for the loser to dictate terms. Until your troops leave the resistance will keep on killing them because that is the only thing that works with racist empires such as the American empire.

Irak is for the Irakis. The murdering pigs who have boiled my people alive in a sea of their own blood are the government and people of the USA. Expecting us to tolerate the presence of your war criminals in uniform on our soil is too fucking stupid to be worth refuting.


Al Maliki is a traitor to Islam and a traitor to Irak. He collaborates with the invaders.


There has been no electricity none in more than half of Baghdad for 10 days. In the rest of Baghdad 1 to 1½ hours per day.


Q: In your opinion, Maryam, why did America invade Iraq?

Because you're an empire now and you can make your own reality. Working really well isn't it?


[Because of the US use of depleted uranium weapons] I treat cases like this.


The problem in Irak is the presence of the invaders. It is not possible to even begin to reconstruct until that problem is solved. The violence is because the American invader is there. Not despite it. If as you claim, you want to help, then you tackle the root problem. Which is that your troops are in our country. Until then the violence will escalate. The attacks are to make the country ungovernable and they are working.


This is [my nephew's] reality. This is what America has created for his generation:

When I heard the bomb explode last Saturday the first thing I did was telephone my father. But there was no reply. Again and again and again I tried to phone him. My fingers hurt I stabbed them onto the buttons on my phone so hard. I fell onto the floor and prayed please let him not be dead. Please let it be that he died quick if he is dead.

In the time since he wrote that:

His brother Hussein Ibn Laith was killed by a bomb as he ran with his rescue team to the site of a bombing.

His parents were killed in the Arba'in massacres.

His younger brother was wounded in the Al Qhilani bombing as was Mohammed himself and his sister.

Aged 16, Mohammed is the head of his family.

I will let him speak about forgiveness:

Let Us Understand One Another You And I

O God! Pardon our living and our dead, the present and the absent, the young and the old, the males and the females.

I am a Muslim I am Iraki

What america does to Irakis especially to our children

Do not come to me talking of your feelings. Do not come to me asking for forgiveness. Who do you think you are?

I will not ever forgive or forget what your country has done to us. I will not ever forget or forgive what your country has done my family, my city, my country, my people.


My grandchildren's, grandchildren, will teach their grandchildren to hate America for what she has done to us. Never ever ever will I, or they, forget or forgive what your barbaric country has done to us.


If you read the whole thing, I think you'll be struck by how very hollow the questioner's protestations of innocence sound. Yes, our country is doing these things, but it's not us, blah blah blah. One of the haunting mysteries of the 20th century is how the German people allowed themselves to stand by as their leaders committed unspeakable crimes. But it's really not so hard to understand now, is it? Our culpability is all the greater because we have the German precedent to show us the consequences of inaction.

This all has a context. The US has been at war with Iraq's children since at least the first Gulf War. Please see this (including the comments). Please. And google "depleted uranium," if you dare.

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever." — Thomas Jefferson

[Thanks, Miles]

Posted by Jonathan at July 25, 2007 07:34 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Dr. Maryam's comments surely reveal the depths of hatred to which our invasion and occupation have driven some. At the same time, I have to say that I'm not as - what would be a good word, taken? Moved? Impressed? Overwhelmed? I'm honestly not sure - as some others.

Dr. Maryam speaks not as, if you will, the average Iraqi on the street but as an ideologue: No average person, anywhere, anytime, speaks so persistently in stilted phrases and extreme language (such as "racist brutal murdering war criminal troops" and "murdering pigs who have boiled my people alive in a sea of their own blood").

There was also the bit about "For obvious reasons I will not under any circumstances detail my movements to any American."

Uh, why? What "obvious reasons?" Is she afraid of being targeted for assassination? Does she think she's that important? I say that not to denigrate her but to note that another common aspect of the extreme ideologue is to in their own mind inflate the threat they individually pose to their enemy. I certainly saw enough of that here in the '60s.

All evidence indicates that an overwhelming majority of the population of Iraq deeply resents our presence and wants us out. However, I do not accept that they desire it with the depth of hatred expressed by Dr. Maryam.

The value in the interview is that it puts the lie to the claim that our "being there" is opposing terrorism rather then creating the hatreds that are a breeding ground for more terrorists. But I say that Dr. Maryam is not an example of a typical Iraqi.

Posted by: LarryE at July 26, 2007 03:12 AM

I suppose we can hope that LarryE is right about the average Iraqi. But I would suggest reading, over time, some Iraqi blogs like Riverbend or Khalid Jarrar. These are ordinary people, intelligent, educated young bloggers who have gone from understanding and sympathy for the Americans to a white-hot hatred for us since the invasion and occupation have stretched into civil war.

I agree that Dr. Maryam's language is ideologically stilted. I wonder how our language would sound if we were occupied by another country much more powerful and we saw the things they've seen?

Posted by: bill at July 28, 2007 07:11 AM