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Monday, March 24, 2003

"Become the Change" indeed


A few months ago, a number of activists in Europe, the United States, and Canada began organizing trips to Iraq as "human shields" - the idea here being that they were willing to "die for peace" and put themselves in harm's way to prevent US/UN bombing of Iraqi targets.

[HumanShields.org (Iraq trip organizers)]

[San Francisco Human Shields Web Site]

One the the groups that received the most media attention was lead by a former US Marine who lead a group of about 35 in double-decker buses from London to Baghdad

["As war with Iraq seems to edge ever closer, former US Marine Kenneth Nichols O'Keefe - who fought in the Gulf War - is leading a group of Westerners to be human shields."]

['Human shields' bus it to Baghdad]

[MSNBC: Babes in Saddamland]



After more than a month in Iraq being used as human shields, a number of those volunteers have come back - in shame. Several of them left in protest of the fact that the Ba'athist minders who controlled where the shields could go in Iraq made sure that the shields were protecting not civilian areas but military facilities, regime bunkers, and WMD sites.

["Five volunteers who went to Iraq to serve as "human shields," including two Americans, were forced out of the country because they were critical of the government's choice of sites to protect, the Hawaii man who headed the group said today."]

As if that was a surprise. Iraq is a country that knows no freedoms. The people cannot protest in the streets or voice their opinions in the press like these activists can in the West. In Iraq, that kind of thing gets you executed by the SSO. For whatever reason, these "shields" did not realize that until they had been in the country for a month.
Of the group that most media outlets followed from London, at least one member returned before hostilities began. His story is interesting...

[David Pepper: " I was a naive fool to be a human shield for Saddam"]
[HumanShields.org (Iraq trip organizers)]

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.


...


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.


Which, honestly, should not have been that much of a surprise. Yes, you take your freedoms for granted, dickhead. Those people do not. They live a whisper away from death by one of the Ba'ath security forces.



Try not to be so ignorant of the rest of the world, ok?
(note: "become the change" is the name of one of the human shields groups)


3/24/2003 02:46:00 PM ] [  0 comments  ]
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