Cliff Kindy Iraq Blog

Current entries are related to Cliff Kindy's fourth Iraq trip, beginning in October 2007. The blog archives contains letters from Cliff's third Iraq trip in 2004-5.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How Can We Add Humanity to Numbers?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Greetings Family, Friends and All Good People,

On the way to the internet this morning I again passed the man who sits at the foot of the stairs leading up. He is the eyes on the world, watching a slice of humanity pass his outpost. Earlier we have just greeted each other; today we talked a bit.

So what would one see watching the world? The news from the Australian Herald Sun (review of an earlier CBS report) says that 1.6 million US military personnel have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. News reports over the past few weeks have been noting that deaths of Iraqis and US military are down in Iraq. The reports only speculate on the reasons, but are clear that the "Surge" is not the cause. One analyst points to the stepping back by the US from bombing Iran and the willingness to add negotiation to military posturing as the reason for the decrease in violence. He suggests that Iran has responded to that initiative by withdrawing support from Shia militias in Iraq. So is the violence decreasing?

The Sun article goes on. Suicides in the 20's age bracket for US returned vets are four times the national average. In 2005 the statistics (how sterile) reported that 120 of these vets each week were committing suicide. That was about the number of Iraqis being killed each day at the height of the killing. Add these numbers to the nearly 4000 US dead here in Iraq and where do you go, what do you do?

When I was in Palestine/Israel many years ago, Israeli suicides in their military were about one per week in a much smaller military. The reports said that IDF forces couldn't live with what they had done in the occupied territories. We have all heard the reports of house raids on Iraqi homes by US military, the tortures at Abu Ghraib Prison, the CIA renditions of detainees to countries where they can be tortured, but we rarely understand the tortured minds that return from the war zones and the impact they have on US society.

This week in Suleimaniya had some positive events. A week ago we met with the head of security, a former teacher. He had taken the initiative a year ago to promote human rights education in the security ministry. CPT was asked by the director of Kurdistan Human Rights Watch, a local NGO, to assist with a four-day training for 24 officers involved in interrogation and investigation of suspects (our piece was just a one-hour block). We found this effort on the part of Kurdish security forces encouraging.

As a ripped off capstone to this week, we heard yesterday a rumor that still in Kurdish Iraq terrorist suspects can be taken away, shot and buried in unmarked graves. It begins to sound to me like the impunity under Saddam Hussein's regime or the impunity of US forces here in Iraq or in Afghanistan.

Where do we go with this, remembering the eyes on the world? I'm convinced it comes back to our personal willingness to extract ourselves from the structures that allow this to continue unimpeded and then to live as clearly as we can the human-respecting relationships that are a total contrast to such inhumanity. We will have to support each other in that process, because, within the US empire, so much of the weight is in the other direction. The future is in your hands

Blessings of peace to each of you!



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