121Contact says We’ve chosen a hawkish President at a moment when we are involved in violence in over 80 nations (every day!). Most of this is Special Forces activity, but it is real. We have troops (and mercenaries of more than equal number) in 3 nations.
We have to start working on Day One to change U.S. foreign policy. It is critical to the fight against externally based terrorism. It is life critical to the innocent civilians who pay the heaviest price. We worked hard to elect her. Now we have to work for more peaceful tomorrows.
In a marvelous work of self-referential denial the Oct 2, 2016 New York Time article “Why Some Wars Get More Attention Than Others” fails to mention the now ongoing ISIS vs. Iraq war. Yes, it deserves underling. The U.S. is deeply involved in this conflict but day-to-day reporting is woefully lacking in the American media.
In support of Baghdad’s imminent ‘liberation’ of the ISIS stronghold in Mosul we now have almost 5,000 troops on the ground, an undisclosed number of non-official fighters, and drone and air support all gearing up in what is only the latest battle in an ongoing war.
Ignoring the history of jihadist revolutionary movements and the recent metastases of IS affiliated actions in other countries our government is espousing confidence in rapid success against ISIS in Iraq. After all, we are the greatest nation on Earth and can surely drive these terrorists out of Mosul and achieve victory. We don’t even accept the fact that there is no ISIS. What we name is not a real entity, but rather a collection of groups that choose to be named as such, each with its own goals, strategy, and tactics. Defeating ISIS in Iraq will have little effect on Boko Haram or other insurgencies that choose to adopt the IS naming.
What is to come is much less glorious than victory. There is no plan for what happens in Mosul after the inevitable winning of the battle. There is, however, great sadness and loss to come. And a blindness to the inevitable grief and suffering generated by our coming actions.
Much of the city will be reduced to rubble. Many neighborhoods will be flattened. The infrastructure will be damaged to an extent requiring not repair but rebuilding. And yes, the innocent civilians will be devastated, physically and emotionally. Wounds can heal and psychological damage can be eased, but that requires hospitals, doctors, and medicine that will not be available to those who survive. Death cannot be repaired.
Some 750,000 people will join the ranks of Iraq’s internally displace people (IDPs). Iraq already has over 2.5 million people who have been forced out of their homes and village and cities. About half are trapped in poorly outfitted ‘camps’. This light and happy term masks horrid living conditions. Running water, food, heat, clothing, medicine, and care of any kind is lacking. The rest of the IDPs are housed with relatives, friends, generous people, and Masjids who have opened their doors to these people caught by the sadly predictable consequences of using violence to solve problems.
But maybe ignorance is not a factor in the Obama Administration’s decision making. Maybe the planners know the dreadful results of ‘liberating’ Mosul. Perhaps they are capable of shutting off the compassionate parts of their brains. Maybe they have perfected Denial so that they can pursue their global strategy without having to worry about the innocent civilians they are about to crush. Perhaps the New York Times is partnering with our government to help our citizens ignore the devastation we are about to deliver to the innocents of Iraq. Maybe it will cover the story after the deed is done. But by then it will be too late.
We’re sitting on the curb in the shade of a fine old tree in the already steam heat of a long hot day ahead. For a while we don’t speak beyond Assalamu alaikum; Wa alaikum assalaam. For a while, anyway. And then slowly we get to know each other. Ozone Park guy (born in Bangladesh) and Bay Ridge guy (born in Brooklyn) both waiting quietly for the funeral services. Hours away, but we are timeless at the moment, and not concerned with the heat. Just trading stories; getting to know. There’s history, and there’s memory, but nothin’ comes close to tellin’ stories.
“This was back home, you know. I was about 19. 18, 19. I hadn’t seen my folks in months and I was on my way to them. But it wasn’t like just taking a taxi. First the train and then a bus, and then the walking. You couldn’t just call a cab. The station was a small town. A village, really. Nothing much more than the railroad station. It was night and raining and quiet with everything closed down for the night.
The next bus was in the morning, so I wanted to see my family so I started out walking, in the rain, in the night. From there I walked, in the dark with nobody else around. It was late, and no one else was out in the town. And once out of town here is just the farms. I kept walking in the rain looking for the dirt road that led to our farm but soon it was so dark I could not see. I didn’t know where the road was. Not a road really. A narrow path sometimes just a pair of wheel ruts, grass in between, you know. Really, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. So dark.
I kept walking, being blown around by the wind. And then I couldn’t see any landmarks and I knew I was lost. I stopped. And then I felt a hand on my arm. Like this.
“Where are you going?” asked my uncle.
“I’m trying to get home but I have no light. I can’t find the path.”
“You can borrow my furnace.”
“You know a furnace, a…gas light. Yes. A lantern.
I followed him and waited outside while he got the furnace. You know? A lantern. And with the lantern I could see some landmarks and make my way. I was very wet. I was very glad to be with my family. The next day I went to return the lantern and my aunt came to the door. I told her the whole story, what I am telling you now, and she looked at me in a strange way, saying “Your uncle is not here.”
He was away, you see on one of his…like a pilgrimage, every few months to go away and…speak to people…for religion…I insisted I’d seen him last night and he had given me this lantern to light my way. She just smiled at me. I remember that night.
But that is 50 years ago. When I came here this was, the, gang, the, the mob, the Ghotti neighborhood. We had problems then. Not over religion. We just weren’t Italian. That was it! So it was a little rough but little by little there were more of us and then, now we are here…”
There are millions of Americans who feel deeply about the innocent civilians of Iraq. Many of us our active in trying to bring an end to the violence. It is hard to tell from our Media, but our numbers are growing.
We all hope for your peace and security, and know it will come. Inshallah
It’s 2016: each month we are losing more people in Chicago than those recently murdered in Brussels. Intimate bios personalize ISIS victims while Chicago’s dead are dehumanized within a cloud of statistics. The ISIS gang blankets the media but we don’t often hear about Chicago’s Latin Kings. If we did we’d begin to see significant parallels in radicalization paths and underlying causes.
No solutions, even substantial mitigations, are possible unless the deep societal, political, sociological, and psychological drivers are exposed. Yes, it’s maddeningly complicated, but we need to include all the underlying causes in the search effective change. It won’t help if we point to income inequality and a need for policing-reformation in Chicago without talking about the deeply entrenched American Racism and Greedism in which the Latin Kings exist. ISIS flourishes in a global mirror of these elements.
The world is not a fair place. The Rule of Law has become an illusion of Justice that serves the rich and powerful. We blind ourselves to the facts because we are afraid of the pain that the truth will bring. And, yes, the truth will hurt: twice. Once when we empathize with those who suffer, and once when we acknowledge our personal passive/aggressive contribution to the suffering. Such is empathy, the ability to feel the pain of others. But now enters Compassion.
Compassion allows us to take the energy of pain, anger, and guilt and turn these forces into ‘good works’. Individually the ‘work’ can be a simple as having civil conversation with someone who thinks differently. It can mean organizing a demonstration for Reform. It can mean just going to that demonstration to be counted as one who cares.
That’s the big ‘C’ Compassion, the one that says empathy is fine, but “What are you going to do about it?” It’s a transformative movement that flows from each individual upward through successive layers of power. In a Democracy guided by Compassion each vote will move this world toward more peaceful tomorrows. That pain you were worried about will be eased.
The retaking of Tikrit, like Beji, Sinjar, and Ramadi, is proof that #ISIS is far from the super power its videos portray. A truer image of their useless cruelty is slowly replacing their propaganda. Now, after horror swept this important ISIS supply line city, many of the internally displaced Tikritis are back home, starting to rebuild their lives. 500,000 innocent civilians are already back and some 900,000 are expected during this year. UNIRAQ
They’ve a rough time ahead. It’s not easy to rebuild communities saturated with memories of lost loved ones and strewn with booby traps, but with strong government support they will be able to thrive. Inshallah.
[June 2014: Tikrit fell to ISIS as part of its sweep in northern Iraq. It made ISIS proud. March 2015: #Tikrit was retaken with Shia militiamen and also some Sunni tribesmen. They got assistance from Iran's Quds Force officers on the ground, and American, British, and French air forces.]