Memoirs of a human shield.

Discussion in 'TM Lounge' started by Jarrett, Dec 3, 2003.

  1. Jarrett

    Jarrett Piano User

    477
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    Nov 11, 2003
    Richland, MO
    No matter what your political affiliation/beliefs, I think you will be interested in this. I've posted where I found it after the letter. Don't flame me for this, I'm not trying to start a debate.
    -J
    I was a naive fool to be a human shield for Saddam
    By Daniel Pepper
    (Filed: 23/03/2003)

    I wanted to join the human shields in Baghdad because it was direct action which had a chance of bringing the anti-war movement to the forefront of world attention. It was inspiring: the human shield volunteers were making a sacrifice for their political views - much more of a personal investment than going to a demonstration in Washington or London. It was simple - you get on the bus and you represent yourself.

    So that is exactly what I did on the morning of Saturday, January 25. I am a 23-year-old Jewish-American photographer living in Islington, north London. I had travelled in the Middle East before: as a student, I went to the Palestinian West Bank during the intifada. I also went to Afghanistan as a photographer for Newsweek.

    The human shields appealed to my anti-war stance, but by the time I had left Baghdad five weeks later my views had changed drastically. I wouldn't say that I was exactly pro-war - no, I am ambivalent - but I have a strong desire to see Saddam removed.

    We on the bus felt that we were sympathetic to the views of the Iraqi civilians, even though we didn't actually know any. The group was less interested in standing up for their rights than protesting against the US and UK governments.

    I was shocked when I first met a pro-war Iraqi in Baghdad - a taxi driver taking me back to my hotel late at night. I explained that I was American and said, as we shields always did, "Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good". He looked at me with an expression of incredulity.

    As he realised I was serious, he slowed down and started to speak in broken English about the evils of Saddam's regime. Until then I had only heard the President spoken of with respect, but now this guy was telling me how all of Iraq's oil money went into Saddam's pocket and that if you opposed him politically he would kill your whole family.

    It scared the hell out of me. First I was thinking that maybe it was the secret police trying to trick me but later I got the impression that he wanted me to help him escape. I felt so bad. I told him: "Listen, I am just a schmuck from the United States, I am not with the UN, I'm not with the CIA - I just can't help you."

    Of course I had read reports that Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein, but this was the real thing. Someone had explained it to me face to face. I told a few journalists who I knew. They said that this sort of thing often happened - spontaneous, emotional, and secretive outbursts imploring visitors to free them from Saddam's tyrannical Iraq.

    I became increasingly concerned about the way the Iraqi regime was restricting the movement of the shields, so a few days later I left Baghdad for Jordan by taxi with five others. Once over the border we felt comfortable enough to ask our driver what he felt about the regime and the threat of an aerial bombardment.

    "Don't you listen to Powell on Voice of America radio?" he said. "Of course the Americans don't want to bomb civilians. They want to bomb government and Saddam's palaces. We want America to bomb Saddam."

    We just sat, listening, our mouths open wide. Jake, one of the others, just kept saying, "Oh my God" as the driver described the horrors of the regime. Jake was so shocked at how naive he had been. We all were. It hadn't occurred to anyone that the Iraqis might actually be pro-war.

    The driver's most emphatic statement was: "All Iraqi people want this war." He seemed convinced that civilian casualties would be small; he had such enormous faith in the American war machine to follow through on its promises. Certainly more faith than any of us had.

    Perhaps the most crushing thing we learned was that most ordinary Iraqis thought Saddam Hussein had paid us to come to protest in Iraq. Although we explained that this was categorically not the case, I don't think he believed us. Later he asked me: "Really, how much did Saddam pay you to come?"

    It hit me on visceral and emotional levels: this was a real portrayal of Iraq life. After the first conversation, I completely rethought my view of the Iraqi situation. My understanding changed on intellectual, emotional, psychological levels. I remembered the experience of seeing Saddam's egomaniacal portraits everywhere for the past two weeks and tried to place myself in the shoes of someone who had been subjected to seeing them every day for the last 20 or so years.

    Last Thursday night I went to photograph the anti-war rally in Parliament Square. Thousands of people were shouting "No war" but without thinking about the implications for Iraqis. Some of them were drinking, dancing to Samba music and sparring with the police. It was as if the protesters were talking about a different country where the ruling government is perfectly acceptable. It really upset me.

    Anyone with half a brain must see that Saddam has to be taken out. It is extraordinarily ironic that the anti-war protesters are marching to defend a government which stops its people exercising that freedom.


    http://www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/o...2305.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2003/03/23/ixop.html
     
  2. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly Piano User

    366
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    Oct 31, 2003
    the north philly ghetto
    "Saddam has to be taken out"

    after you "take out" Saddam, i have a few other people who need "taking out" are you with me?
     
  3. Jarrett

    Jarrett Piano User

    477
    1
    Nov 11, 2003
    Richland, MO
    As long as it's Italian, I'm in.
    -J
     
  4. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    4,529
    8
    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    With all respect, I'm not knowing where you're coming from, Jarrett. But the Italians have just lost their share of personnel too. Just because they didn't "buy into" the WOMD argument at "square one" isn't a reason to wish ill of them. I strongly suspect that the Fadayeen/terrorist/Al Quida will end up creating enough mayhem before they are finally stamped out (if ever...suicide seems to be the flavor of the month) to unite a lot of disparate peoples who were originally "anti-war".
     
  5. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly Piano User

    366
    0
    Oct 31, 2003
    the north philly ghetto
    well, when you go around the world and "take out" those who offend you
    sooner or later, those chickens will come home to roost :cry:
     
  6. Liad Bar-EL

    Liad Bar-EL Forte User

    1,151
    2
    Oct 25, 2003
    Jerusalem, Israel
    Where I live, the answer to the question: Why don't you take out Arafat? ... is, "Because whoever will replace him might be worse."

    Ben-Laden, Saddam both got away from the Americans which means this war (Armageddon) is going to be on for a loooooooooooooong time.

    Liad Bar-EL
     
  7. Jarrett

    Jarrett Piano User

    477
    1
    Nov 11, 2003
    Richland, MO
    No, I think you misunderstood me... I was making a (bad) joke on his "take out" comment... referring to Italian FOOD. Sorry, it was merely a joke.
    -J
     
  8. Liad Bar-EL

    Liad Bar-EL Forte User

    1,151
    2
    Oct 25, 2003
    Jerusalem, Israel
    Jarrett, my mother's side of the family are Italian and I didn't find anything wrong with your statements. My brothers keep asking me to ask you what is your present address; so, if you could send me this ASAP I'm sure that we can resolve any misunderstandings on this subject.

    Liad Bar-EL

    P.S. Hey, man lighten up. You're find. Try using a little more emoticons smilies to get your jokes understood ... even though I didn't use one on my brother's statement above and IT IS A JOKE.

    If it makes you feel any better, I just got a bunch of Italian jokes from a friend that doesn't know that I'm part Italian. Here's one for you.

    Do you know why most men from Italy are named Tony?

    On the boat over to America they put a sticker on them that said TO NY. :lol:
     
  9. Liad Bar-EL

    Liad Bar-EL Forte User

    1,151
    2
    Oct 25, 2003
    Jerusalem, Israel
    Jarrett,

    One very important point I forgot to mention is that you posted a great message. This message should be published in all newspapers IMO.

    Thanks very much for posting this message.

    Liad Bar-EL
     
  10. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    3,724
    757
    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Ditto that!

    I don't know about where you guys are, but back when the US was preparing to go into Afghanistan, there was a substantial portion of the US, at least in media, that proposed more talk and negotiating was the answer, not the military.

    Hello?! Negotiating with Taliban/Al Queda? It made about as much sense as negotiating with a Pit-bull that's ready to rip your arm off!

    Greg
     

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