Azara Blog: Americans losing friends in Iraq

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Date published: 2005/10/15

Khalid Muhmood in the letters section of the Financial Times says (subscription service):

Sir, First some facts. My father is Iraqi. My mother, English. My direct family is spread between Iraq and Kuwait with an extended family in Iraq. I live in Vietnam, where I run my own business. My family would represent the quiet middle voice of Iraq. The middle voice carries many mixed feelings. We did not agree with the way President Bush went about invading Iraq, but were all glad to see the back of Saddam Hussein. We feel that the way the US has handled the war is completely incompetent, but live in hope that things will turn out for the better. We feel sorry for the US troops in Iraq, but at the same time feel their aggressive gung-ho nature invites trouble.

A few days ago I received news that my 40-year-old cousin had been killed. It was a hot night, and, with no electricity, the family decided to sleep on the roof of their house - a common practice. That night US helicopters were shooting flares to light up the ground. One of the flares landed on the roof where my cousin was sleeping, killing him immediately.

Since the death, there has been no acknowledgement from the US army, no apology, no offer of compensation. Absolutely nothing. Imagine if this accident had happened in the US. There would be court cases, newspaper headlines, reports on the negligence of the army and heads would roll.

This is not an isolated case. It happens every day in Iraq, but does not get reported. Most Americans know that close to 2,000 US soldiers have been killed. How many know how many Iraqi civilians have been killed? If the US army does not wake up to addressing these negligent killings, then the middle voice in Iraq will start to shift and that will benefit nobody.

Khalid Muhmood
Apollo Education Training
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Well nobody would be surprised by this letter. The Americans (and British) do not count Iraqi casualties (caused both by direct American action and because America has failed in its responsibility as occupier by not offering sufficient protection for Iraqis from other attacks). That would be too embarrassing. And it might broach comparison with the number of deaths caused by Saddam Hussein. The whole American occupation of Iraq has been a disaster (as many people predicted it would be), mainly because the Bush administration started the war for the wrong reasons and with little support in the international community, and they also did not prepare sufficiently. The American military seems to be much more capable in international disaster relief (e.g. in Indonesia after the tsunami) than in its stated purpose. Perhaps it is time they took the strapline from Dr. Strangelove more seriously: "Peace is Our Business".

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