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Iraqi Fulbrighters Speak about their Concerns

Vietnamese journalist and Fulbrighter Tran Le Thuy wrote the article "When winning a Fulbright means having to hide your face." She writes about the fears and concerns many Iraqi Fulbrighters in the United States have. According to her interviews, some of them did not accept the invitation to meet with President Bush "either in fear for their lives or to avoid the tormenting questions about the conflict taking place in their motherland."
Although all of them seem uniformly happy that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power, they are painfully watching the news from home for signs of civil war. And many blame unfair, insensitive, and poorly designed American policies for the clashes among Sunnis and Shiites and the way post-dictatorship democracy in Iraq seems to be going awry. (...)
Dr. Fadhil says he would love to meet the president. "I would thank Mr. Bush for removing Saddam; at the end this is the only major achievement that all Iraqis agree on," said the filmmaker, who became a journalist by chance when a Guardian reporter asked him to work as a translator in 2003. "But it is not worth it for hundred[s of] thousands of Iraqis to die. We got nothing after Saddam -- no jobs, no security, and no better life."
Thuy quotes one Iraqi Fulbrigther as saying "Bush is good [for his country]. He attracts terrorists from all over the world to Iraq in order to make them forget about attacking America. Iraq becomes a battlefield for terrorists." She also writes:
Another Fulbrighter from Baghdad, who declines to be named, says, "I hate [it] when the Americans say that they are shifting the anti-terrorism battlefield to Iraq. It really pisses me off. This is the city where I live. Why is there terrorism in my city? They didn’t think about me or about my people when they declared that. Who gave them this authority?" He laments, "Don't they think of [the] 25 millions people living there, who are killed and being killed everyday? Nobody cares for Iraqi civilians."


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da 12th anon on :

Life is rough. Just ask any German who survived the Allied bombing campaign followed by the rape of Germany by Soviet troops. Estimates are as high as 6 million germans raped. 1 for each dead jew? There are many aerial photos of Berlin that show it to be pretty much rubble. As Patton said 'More rubble equals less trouble.' We could have rubbled Iraq. Would that have made it happen for you? The simple fact is that LESS Iraqi's will die over the next 2 decades due to the American occupation then if Saddam and his sons had been left in charge. America will eventually go home. Sooner is better. Saddam and his children would have continued his reign of terror for decades. Eventually, Iraq will get it's act together and the violence will stop. Meanwhile, that violence is NOT America's problem. It was not Americas creation. Taking advantage of the Killing ground potential of Iraq is only smart. Better there then here. When the Iraqi's get tired of the killing, they will stop. The terrorists wouldn't last 30 minutes if the Iraqi's wanted them gone. So stop whining about America and solve your problems. It is almost to late. Soon enough, the Americans will leave and Iraq will look back on this last two years as a quite spell. Iran will invade Iraq after America leaves. There will be no help from a weak and ineffectual UN, nor a NATO that is only a name without the USA. It's doubtfull that ANY European nation could beat Iran in a war. Euros have sat on their butts doing nothing for so long, it's doubtfull that they can change. Germany casterated itself long ago, while France is in the middle of a civil war that it looks to be losing. The ONLY reason Kuwait was rescued from Saddam is the USA orginazide a rescue party. If you think that we will organize one for Iraq after Iran sends half a million 'volunteers' into Iraq to 'restore order' after the USA leaves, then you are nutterier then the Mad Mullahs of Tehran and not nearly as smart. The Iranian version of OIF will not be as kind and gentle as America;s was. In Iran, they fly over protest marchs in heilos and shoot down into the crowd/mob with automatic weapons. The US 'catch and release' programs will become 'catch and execute'. The Mullahs are even more vile then Saddam. Allah gave them permission to slaughter people, so it's OK. You think an American teenager with a M-16 is bad news, wait until you meet Abdul with his Kalahnakov and gods permission to commit any atrocity his retarded brain can dream up. "In the absence of orders, go find something and kill it." - Field Marshal Erwin Rommel "If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking." - General George Patton Jr

Trobert on :

Jesus, that was a colosally insensitive comment. And I even have understanding for much of the rationale for the war (belief that there were WMD, attack on Kuwait, thumbing his nose at UN resolutions, etc.), but yes, I could see how somebody might not like their town being the center stage for the war against terror. I can understand the urge to vent about it. And you certainly cannot say that the violence is solely the problem of the Iraqis. If it's the terrorists who are causing it, then nobody can dispute that it was the invasion that drew them there. The US has the obligation to stick it out, get shit done and make damn well sure that the Iraqis eventually see some kind of benefit out of this mess as well, otherwise we need to never do this kind of shit ever again.

Hattie on :

And who set Saddam up in the first place? How about that nice photo taken in the 80's of Rummy shaking hands with Saddam? The moral of all this is, "If you can possibly avoid it, don't be an ordinary Iraqi. Your life means nothing to the powerful."

joe on :

Hattie, For someone who just stopped in to read the postings on the blog they would think you and I are collaborating on our posts. Somewhere I said the study and reading of history is not one of the strong points of most posters and now you give a perfect opportunity. Of course I know you already know this as you have a long memory but I dare say even your memory is not this long. I also realize you are as busy as a little bee cleaning up the mess. So allow me…. Until 1921 the nation of Iraq did not exist. It was created by the British, french and Russians. It was later occupied by the British until the early 1950’s. There was a rigged election in 1948 and this was the beginning of a long series of failed and corrupt governments ending in the revolt of 1958. In 1952 the BA'ATH Party was formed. One of the things which finally lead to the revolt was the invasion of Egypt by Britain, france and Israel in 1956. The US involvement with Iraq begin when the US supported the formation of the Baghdad Pact in 1955 (it included Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and Britain) to counter Egypt Nasser's United Arab Republic (it included Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen). The BA’ath Party took control in a final coup/revolt in 1963. It was assisted by the CIA. Now we get to the interesting part about foreign policy. There are really two basic choices when it comes to foreign policy. There can be realist based policy or idealistic based policy. From these two very different starting points there is a process of pragmatic trade offs. Looking at the history of the most recent POTUS one can for the most part make two groupings. The idealistic – Thurman, Kennedy, Carter, Reagan, GWB. The realists – Eisenhower, Nixon, GHWB. To be honest with you I am not sure if either Johnston or Clinton had a foreign policy. I say this because Johnston was an extension of Kennedy. Clinton had either few opportuneties or chose not to excerise them when they presented themselves. So to answer the question you asked about who set Saddam up in the first place it was JFK. He did it to prevent what was perceived at the time of Iraq going communist. Reagan did it (and your ill informed comment about the Rumsfeld photop) to check Iran. If you would really like to read the history of this then here are a couple of links to some short summaries. What will be interesting is to see which of the two foreign policy options you and your fellow travelers choose going forward.

da 12th anon on :

"If it's the terrorists who are causing it, then nobody can dispute that it was the invasion that drew them there" I can. First, Al-Qaeda was already there as proven by internal Iraqi memos. Osama was on the payroll. Second, Saddam supported all forms of terrorism, by funding them, training bases, weapons, etc. People that live under a dictatorship can only disavow so much responsibility for the actions of that dictator. If 25 million Iraq's had wanted Saddam gone, he would have been gone. It would have been bloody and hard, but life is tough. As far as sensitivity goes, there is NOTHING sensitive about war. The impending withdrawal from Iraq will mean Plan B is on the table. So Rummy shook hands with Saddam. I'll bet he washed them afterwards. As long as you are spining out conspiracy theories, please note the Saddam thought he head permission from the USA to invade Kuwait. It was a wee translation error by the Department of State's representative. Some brainless fem who actually was in the running for Bremmer's Pro-Council position in '03. Yes Iraq and the USA were allies of sorts against Iran after Iran invaded American soil by capturing our Embassy in Tehran. Carter made that arrangement. He didn't have the courage to ask Congress for war as a response to histories greatest casus belli, so he tried to get Saddam to fight a proxie war for the USA. If you want to spin, spin it right. Reagan kept up the relationship that Carter started, which is why Rummy was there shaking hands. So don't lay that blame on Rummy, he was just doing his job. Lay it on Carter, who started the game. "If you can possibly avoid it, don't be an ordinary Iraqi. Your life means nothing to the powerful." Welcome to the real world. You comment is factually accurate, but it applies to 90% (maybe 99) of the humans on this planet. You can change Iraqi to any nation and that statement will still be true. The question is 'What are we going to do about it?' My answer is to trash the treaty of Westphalia and start over with a new definition of just what a nation is. Any nation that doesn't have universal sufferage and respect a common definition of human rights, IS NOT A NATION. Declare open season on anybody that rules without consent of their fellow citizens. Half the problem between the West and Islam is the different concepts of Nation we have.

Simon on :

@ da 12th anon "Estimates are as high as 6 million germans raped." Says who? "The simple fact is that LESS Iraqi's will die over the next 2 decades due to the American occupation then if Saddam and his sons had been left in charge." So you can look into the future and see facts? Wow! Psst, are the Redskins winning next week? I plan to bet on them... Seriously: Saddam was contained in the 90s. He did not kill many Iraqis in the 90s. Due to America's war on Iraq, life in Iraq is now much more insecure as the interviewed Iraqis and virtually every poll from Iraq indicates "Meanwhile, that violence is NOT America's problem." America promised liberty, democracy, freedom... Does America keep her word these days? "Iran will invade Iraq after America leaves." Indeed. Great job, America! America's friends in Israel is deeply concerned that Washington has empowered their biggest enemy.... Really good job! You should be really proud to have made Iran the regional power and endanger Israel's security even more! Due to the U.S. failures in Mess-o-potamia, Iran is convinced that the U.S. will not stop them from developing nukes. Considering what you write about Kennedy, Carter, and Reagan, I assume that you consider past US policies towards Iraq and Iran complete failures as well. America used to be admired in the Middle East because it was not a colonial power unlike the European countries. Not anymore. America has acted imperialistic for many decades and created unnecessary problems for the region and for themselves. The Arrogance of Power.

Yank on :

Imperialism? Is that not like aiming to establish a caliphate from southern Europe to Indonesia? How could you miss that example of imperialism? It seems to me that see imperialism only where you want to. Now, it's virtually impossible to prove a negative, but largely by chance one nation on this planet has managed to prove that it is the antethis of imperialist. How? By conquering other countries and never seizing an inch of territory. By giving the peoples of those countries back their land in better shape than before. And by even defending them from aggression while they recovered from the war. By giving them more freedom than they had before. And by giving them PROPSERITY instead of parasitizing their economies like the imperialist nations of Europe and Soviet Union always did. Indeed, look at how well Japan and Germany and South Korea are doing. Now look at how well France's former colonies are doing. Look how long to took India to end famine? If that doesn't prove to you thet the US is anything but imperialist, nothing could. ALL OF THAT goes right through your head like a neutron, doesn't it? You parrot the absurdity that the US is "imperialist." Sheesh.

Yank on :

I do sympathize with the Fullbrighter who says "I hate when the Americans say that they are shifting the anti-terrorism battlefield to Iraq." That isn't an accurate paraphrase, but it is close to what is implied, and I cringe every time I hear that myself. Doing that would be only one step less despicable than Iran and Syria, who likewise fight their wars on foreign soil and are worse in that they also use foreigners to serve as their armed foces by proxy too. We risk our own lives. What's more, it isn't true. You can't have it both ways: you say there was no al-quaeda in Iraq when we invaded, and now you accuse us of invading iraq to attack them. Let's get rational. We didn't invite al-qaeda to come to Iraq. They came looking for a new country to take over. That's where they are now. And so that's that's where we find and kill them. Their fault, not ours. As for the other "many" you cite, who "blame unfair, insensitive, and poorly designed American policies for the clashes among Sunnis and Shiites and the way post-dictatorship democracy in Iraq seems to be going awry" -- that's just more of your using the Great Scapegoat to dump all the sins of the world on. In fact, it's quite the other way around. In the Anbar province, the US marines are the only friends the Sunnis have. The American commanders are helping them and helping them get what they have coming from Shiite government. Indeed, Sunni prisoners beg not be handed over by the Americans to the Iraqis. I am sick of big babies blaming everything THEY do on somebody else = just like bratty schoolkids who blame their misbehavior on the teacher for failing to stop from from running wild. They had better grow up and become worth our blood treasure soon. Because our patience is not without limit. It's their country, their government, their war. The ones to blame are the Iraqi government, mainly Shiite and unwilling to do what it takes, in bed with the militias and unwilling to disarm them, and the religious nut cases murdering each other in sectarian violence, and the baathist remnants and the Islamist terrorists, both foreign and domestic. But you can never blame the ones who DO a deed for for it. Always blame the US instead, for not being able to prevent the wild ones from misbehaving. What are they, children? Incapable of behaving themselves? Is the US their Daddy? All we can do is help them, not win their war for them.

joe on :

Simon, I do not consider the policies of the POTUS you named to have had failed ME policies. Iran and Iraq were at the very most on the periphery. I do believe that former Pres Carter’s failure to respond with force to Iran has contributed to the current situation.

Simon on :

@ Yank "I am sick of big babies blaming everything THEY do on somebody else" You blame America's screw ups on Al Qaeda. The Neocons might have had good (naive) intentions, but fact is that they have screwed up Iraq. The Bush admin did not have a proper plan, did not understand Iraq and therefore has incited sectarian violence in Iraq. Having good intentions does not count, if you are incompetent. The Iraqis who were supposed to enjoy being liberated by the Neocons, hate America now. The felt saver under Saddam than under Bush. The felt less threatened by Saddam than by the current situation. Good job! The "liberated" Iraqis hate America. And Israelis freak out, because Iran is the most powerful country in the region now. Good job.

Assistant Village Idiot on :

joe and Hattie. Most of us are familiar with that history, and more. Foreign policy must be based on something more than the avoidance of irony. Countries' alliances and cooperations are always in flux, as their interests change. It is actually extremely common for one nation to support another temporarily as the lesser of two evils. As to the US "making" Saddam, that is laughable. The actual contributions were small. Deciding what happened on the basis of a posed photo will leave you forever vulnerable to manipulators. To the main point: I can well understand the Iraqi students worry, distress, and disagreement. But notably absent is their blame of actors other than the US. They voice their concerns to someone because they know that America is a free country that wants to do the right thing, and they hope to influence public opinion. They are not attempting to influence AQ or Syria, for example. The long repetitions about how the Iraqis hate us, and have no freedom, and we never should have gone, and the war is a mess, and all the rest is just tiresome. These are not merely oversimplifications, but cartoons. Americans have heard the litany. We have caught the rumor that some people think we are wrong. Those who support OIF in some form regard the repeated speech as an unrealistic overgeneralization that provides no helpful information. Many Iraqis do not hate us, even if they want us to leave now. The Kurds in particular would dispute your comments. See what I mean? Shouting angry sound-bites is unlikely to be effective. Sometimes people aren't listening, not because they refuse to consider what you say, but because you aren't making any sense.

Hattie on :

Quoting from history books, or arguing about what the body count was, or who committed the worst atrocities is not going to help solve the problems of the moment. Not when the information is simply put forward in an angry way but not otherwise processed. We Americans are stuck with Bush and his policies for two more years-- a fact beyond dispute. Rummy is out of the picture, thank god, but that's only the start of what will be a most painful revision of American foreign policy. I hope Bush is not too far gone to be amenable to reason. And yes, it is terrible to tell Iraqis that their country can be the theater of the "war on terror" because we don't want problems in our country. This is the same as saying that Iraqi lives are less valuable than American ones. At the airport in Honolulu yesterday, I heard a voice on the loudspeaker telling me we were on orange alert and to watch for suspicious activity and unattended baggage. I tried to be afraid, very afraid, but I just thought, "That's ridiculous." Not that we're safe! But such a message did nothing to increase my safety, you see. Where's the sense in all this? Joe, you tell me.

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