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Commentary: Hoping Americans stay forever
United Press International ^ | Ken Joseph

Posted on 06/03/2003 11:26:25 AM PDT by beckett

Commentary: Hoping Americans stay forever

By Ken Joseph
From the International Desk
Published 6/2/2003 6:06 PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 2 (UPI) -- It is dusk in Baghdad and I am talking to the regular group of men who gather near the house I am staying in to talk about the day's events.

"What do you think about the Americans? How long do you think they should stay? Are they doing a good job?" I ask.

The answer is very complicated while at the same time very, very simple. It is the "politically correct" thing to do to complain about the Americans, say they are not wanted and tell them to "go home."

The reality, though, is very different.

As usually happens throughout Iraq, people look around before they tell their true feelings. Simply put they are still afraid to speak the truth. Before it was Saddam, now it is the Shiites and others who frighten them.

"The Americans are doing wonderfully. We want them to stay forever," I hear.

I am not surprised. It is exactly like I thought. When I was in Iraq before the war, the reported feelings were that while the people of Iraq did not like Saddam, they would fight for their country and were against the war.

As I said then, the people wanted the war to come so they could be liberated from Saddam but were not free to talk. The same situation with a different twist exists today.

It is not widely reported, nor fashionable to say the Americans are loved and wanted in Iraq, but in fact as they were wanted before the war, they are wanted now.

"We hope they stay forever" is the true feeling of the silent majority in Iraq, contrary to what is reported.

The logic is very simple -- the Iraqis do not trust their leaders. Faced with a very complicated situation of a 60 percent Shiite majority, a former police state, Iran at their doorstep trying with all its might to destabilize

their country, and desperately relieved and happy to be finally liberated from nearly 30 years of Saddam, they want the United States to stay.

The greatest fear of the man on the street is that the Americans will tire and leave. "We pray that they stay and stay forever" is the feeling of the vast majority, but they look both ways before they say it.

Why? The answer is quite simple. The following is the translation of a letter being given out throughout Iraq in various forms.

"'In the name of God the most merciful and compassionate'

"Do not adorn yourselves as illiterate women before Islam [From the Koran]

To this noble family,

We hope that the family will stand with brothers of Islam and follow the basic Islamic rules of wearing the veil and possessing honorable teachings of Islam that the Muslims have continued to follow from old times.

We are the Iraqi people, the Muslim people and do not accept any mistakes.

If not, and this message will be final, we will take the following actions:

1. Doing what one cannot endure [believed to be rape]

2. Killing

3. Kidnapping

4. Burning the house with its dwellers in it or exploding it.

This message is directed to the women of this family.


This message from a Shiite Islamic organization says it all and explains in a nutshell why, though finally liberated, the Iraqi people still live in fear.

They are not in fear from the crime and looting that is reported in the press. Of course, it troubles them that the electricity is not up and running properly yet, garbage is still scattered and the schools are not yet functioning, but these are all items that the Americans are working to fix. It will take time, but they will be ultimately solved.

An interesting discussion followed one of the daily meetings we attended with U.S. authorities to coordinate activities. Following a long litany of things that do not work and a regular complaining, one Iraqi at the table spoke up: "I think many of those did not work properly even before the war."

Suddenly there was silence at the table as the reality of his statement sunk in.

The much reported anger of the Iraqis at the slowness of bringing Iraq up to speed is much exaggerated. Of course, people are frustrated -- I am too when the electricity suddenly goes off, the water is sporadic, or garbage sits in the street.

At the same time, we just got through a war! Standing in front of the Palestine Hotel watching a large group of Shiite Muslims complaining, I asked a simple question: "Could you hold a demonstration like this before the war?" There was a stunned silence and then a sheepish grin.


What people truly fear is the takeover of their finally liberated country by a group of what they term simply "crazy" people. When fellow Muslims call them "crazy" and they send letters like the above -- a similar one that came to one of our bishops a few days ago -- one begins to understand their true fear.

If there is one mistake being made by the Americans on the ground, it is that they are just too "soft" on the "bad guys."

In the desire not to offend, the Americans in the view of the silent majority have been too soft on the "crazies." If there was one single event that put fear in the hearts of the regular people, it was when one crossed the border into Iraq. A man that even Saddam Hussein would not let into Iraq for 23 years -- the leader of the Shiite Muslims who had been living in Iran as an exile, Ayatollah Mohammad Bakr Al Hakim.

Upon returning to Iraq, he promptly called for the creation of an Islamic state, similar to Iran.

What can the United States do?

As one who was born and raised in Japan -- a mirror of what is happening in Iraq took place 58 years ago -- I for one feel Japan's example can be a "road map" for the future of Iraq.

My parents were among the thousands that responded to Gen. Douglas MacArthur's call for 10,000 young people to help rebuild Japan following the war.

They came with many others who gave their lives to see a war-mongering, pseudo-religious police state transformed into the economic powerhouse and leader for good in the world that Japan -- for all its many problems -- is today.

Just like Iraq, immediately following its surrender, there were the voices calling for more consideration for Japan's "culture" and leaving the basic institutions in place.

Instead, strong accountability was put in place, war criminals punished and executed, pre-war institutions that had created the war machine eliminated, and a strong constitution put in place, which included a watertight prohibition against any religious involvement by the state. This small but critical U.S. presence 58 years following the war remains.

Why? As any Japanese will tell you, quietly because it is still "politically incorrect," they want the Americans to stay.

As Iraqis told me before the war, "we are not afraid of the Americans' bombing. There will be mistakes. People will be killed, but we do not believe the Americans will ever purposely bomb us." People when they are free to tell their true feelings inherently trust America.

They will all bring up the myriad of other interests they feel the United States has in its cards -- oil, control of the world, and on and on -- but at the end of the day they want America to stay involved and fear most of all that the American people will grow tired and leave them to the "crazies."

What can we do to ensure that Iraq will go on to become another "Japan" and be a leader for good in the Middle East?

The answers come from the common people. I will never forget discussing with many of the peace activists I originally supported before the war, asking whether they had talked with the common people to ask what they wanted. "No, we don't have to. We know what they want," was the response.

What do the "regular people" in Iraq want? Just like they wanted the Americans to save them from Saddam and were ready to pay any price personally to do so, their advice is simple and we ignore it at a price.

First, don't be soft on the Shiites! Don't listen to all the voices saying be "culturally sensitive." People who say if you don't believe like we do, we will rape, kill, kidnap or burn down your house, do not deserve to be talked with. As the "regular people" say, "they are crazy and cannot be talked with."

An important first step? Send Ayatollah Mohammed Bakr Hakim back to Iran, where he spent his exile torturing Iraqis in Iranian prisons.

"Cut out the cancer that will destroy our country" is the feeling on the street.

Second, immediately stop the daily cacophony of speakers that blare from mosques across the country. This is not an issue of respecting religious institutions. The use of massive speakers to blare out "calls to prayer" is a recent phenomenon.

According to the "regular people," one of the best things the British troops did in 1991 in the areas they controlled was to visit with each mosque and tell the imam that there was complete religious freedom. They told him he could do whatever he wanted, but the blaring of speakers all day long and into the night was not religious but political and was banned, as has been done in many other Islamic countries.

Even neighboring Jordan has banned all such blaring speakers except for one in Amman.

This one move immediately changed the atmosphere for the "regular people" and sent a strong message that there was a future and the British at that time meant business about a secular Iraq with freedom and opportunity for all.

There will be cries to be "culturally sensitive" on this issue but the constant blaring is a constant political statement that says there is no equality. It is the simplest but most single important step that can be taken to give Iraqis hope that things will be different in the future.

In addition, the Islamic headdress, which we saw battled in Afghanistan and is now an issue on the ground in Iraq, should be banned. Many other Islamic nations have come to the simple conclusion that given the example of the letter sent out and the reality of the weakness of the position of women, there is no situation in which a woman can be thought to be in a position to freely choose to wear the veil, covering of the head or the full body covering.

The only solution is to ban it completely so it does not become an issue and used by the "crazies" to impose their values by intimidating the weakest of the population -- the women.

Third, begin immediate 24-hour television in Arabic, Kurdish and Assyrian -- the principle languages of Iraq. It is unbelievable that to date, it is not up and running while neighboring Iran continues to blare unbelievable messages into Iraq.

The "regular people" are confused and upset not at what they see -- in each of the regular homes I have stayed in, the Americans tanks drive by patrolling the streets at least three or four times each night -- it's what they do not see.

What is most needed on the ground is information. In the absence of it, the "crazies" get the edge. Television, newspapers and radio with information on the progress of reconstruction, information on daily needs and encouragement for the future are necessities.

Fourth, don't be so overly sensitive to Islamic issues. It will be the "death knell" to success in Iraq. As was done in Japan, the "cancer" needs to be rooted out. Virtually all the "crazy" positions that are imposed are not in the Koran and have nothing to do with Islam.

The American position should be to respect the Koran as a religious book and respect Islam as a religion, but to never tolerate anything done in the name of either that defies the moral principles of international society.

"There shall not be compulsion in religion," states the Holy Koran; Part 3 Surah 2 al-Baqarah 256 Page 68.

The Americans shall strenuously support freedom of religion and the freedom to openly propagate any religion, but will never tolerate any form of intimidation or even implicit state support for any one religion. It was this singular issue that guaranteed the success of postwar Japan.

Fifth, create a secular, non-religious constitution for Iraq. I do not mean ask the Iraqis to do it -- after 30 years of intimidation and living in a police state, they are psychologically incapable at this time of doing it

themselves. Exactly as in postwar Japan, we need the best and the brightest minds of Americans and Iraqis together to do this. The best tool at this time is the 1925 Iraqi constitution with the religious articles taken from the Japanese constitution.

This is critical. On this one issue, our Iraq will fail or succeed. Don't listen to the voices again about being "culturally sensitive." The United States faces a simple and stark problem -- there is no "Islamic" nation anywhere that constitutionally guarantees equal rights. Check it out.

One will be shocked, as I was to read constitution after constitution and find out that one is not allowed by either constitution or law to leave Islam. This allows a situation to be created where the most important human right -- the right to freedom of thought -- is not allowed in any Islamic country by virtue of the fact that individuals are not allowed to legally leave the "religion" they were born into, nor allowed to specify "nothing" when asked about their religious belief.

This is where Japan succeeded -- the Americans were vicious in their complete elimination of any religious test or favoritism in the Constitution and subsequent laws.

Sixth, create representative government. Don't do this in long, tedious consultations. This needs to, as in Japan's case, be imposed with consultation.

Special provisions must be made to include special rights for special people who during Saddam's time were purposely spread thinly across the country to make sure they would never be strong enough in any one area to be able to affect representation.

The Assyrians, the indigenous people of Iraq -- the "Native Americans" if you will of Iraq along with the Kurds and the Turkomans -- need to have special autonomy in their homelands so they will feel they have a future and stay to build Iraq, and exiles by the millions living abroad will see a future to return.

Along with this representative government giving special rights to indigenous people in their homelands, there must be a careful and complete settlement of all outstanding claims for land. This was one of the other major areas that caused postwar Japan to succeed -- the Americans were vigorous in breaking up the illegal land situations that had developed over the years. This situation is mirrored in Iraq.

Land must be returned completely to all those who had their land taken by Saddam so individual Iraqis will have their own land and "own" a future. There must never be any perception that Saddam's "friends," as those who assisted in the nightmare that was Japan before and during World War II, continue to benefit.

The elimination of the speakers at the mosques will show Iraqis on a practical level that the United States is creating an equal playing field for all Iraqis.

Finally, get telephones for the U.S. military and ORHA offices in Baghdad. For those of us who interact with them, it borders on the absurd. Imagine a whole "government in waiting" that cannot communicate across the few feet of various agency offices.

This touches a greater issue -- let's not think we can set up an Iraq on the "cheap."

Will it be expensive? Of course, it will. Is it worth it? Yes it is. Iraq is a rich country. It has more than enough resources without using any of the U.S. taxpayer's money. We must not forget that it took seven years of post-war occupation in Japan to root out all the "bad guys" and set up a new government.

Will it pay off? Has Japan "paid off"? It is a simple but critical question -- do we want another "Japan" or do we want another "Iran?"

It is my prayer that the United States will have the courage to stay the course -- it may take seven years of direct occupation and decades of limited basing but it will be well worth it.

Now is the time to be strong, forceful and remember the lessons of the past. Japan is our greatest example. As one who was born and raised in Japan, I grew up regularly having someone out of nowhere shake my hand and say "thank you for Gen. Douglas MacArthur and for what you did to Japan after the war."

It brought back memories as I stood with our neighbors on a dusty Baghdad street at dusk and heard them reply to my question of how long should America stay in Iraq.

"We hope the Americans will stay in Iraq forever."

The Rev. Ken Joseph Jr. is an Assyrian and a minister who directs

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: america; bushdoctrineunfold; iraq; iraqicivilians; order; postwariraq; warlist
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Joseph went to Iraq as a peace activist before the war but was persuaded otherwise once he got there and realized the Iraqi people desperately wanted the Americans to come in.
1 posted on 06/03/2003 11:26:26 AM PDT by beckett
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
2 posted on 06/03/2003 11:34:47 AM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP (Ideas have consequences)
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To: beckett
The Shiites in Iraq remind me of the Bible pounders in America.

The maintenance of freedom requires eternal vigilance against religion.

3 posted on 06/03/2003 11:35:52 AM PDT by thinktwice
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To: beckett
Our politically correct attitude that the Shiite crazies have as much say in the future of Iraq will be our undoing. This author's recommendations make sense but we can't escape our PC ignorance.
4 posted on 06/03/2003 11:36:13 AM PDT by Arkie2
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To: Libertarianize the GOP; beckett; *Bush Doctrine Unfold; *war_list; W.O.T.; Dog Gone; Grampa Dave; ..
Thanks , a powerful piece and very timely!

Bush Doctrine Unfolds :

To find all articles tagged or indexed using Bush Doctrine Unfold , click below:
  click here >>> Bush Doctrine Unfold <<< click here  
(To view all FR Bump Lists, click here)

5 posted on 06/03/2003 11:48:39 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (Where is Saddam? and his Weapons of Mass Destruction?)
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To: beckett
this article got prominent mention today on Paul Harvey's "News and Comment"
6 posted on 06/03/2003 11:59:35 AM PDT by VOA
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To: beckett
I too want us to stay forever. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this way.
7 posted on 06/03/2003 12:05:24 PM PDT by Sparta (Tagline removed by moderator)
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To: thinktwice
I agree.
8 posted on 06/03/2003 12:31:30 PM PDT by ItisaReligionofPeace ((the original))
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To: thinktwice
"The maintenance of freedom requires eternal vigilance against religion."

Was this in the NY Times, Psychology Today or something?
I don't remember reading this in any historical documents.

Did you make this up? All by yourself?
Wow man, that was deep!
9 posted on 06/03/2003 12:53:21 PM PDT by Ramcat
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks for the ping. Will read later, what I read thus far is superb.
10 posted on 06/03/2003 12:55:22 PM PDT by BOBTHENAILER (One by one, we're ridding the world of vermin. RATs are next!!)
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To: thinktwice
That statement is as brainless as Shi'ite.
11 posted on 06/03/2003 12:56:42 PM PDT by TexasRepublic
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To: beckett
Best one yet on this aspect of Reconstruction and Occupation.
12 posted on 06/03/2003 1:00:17 PM PDT by Skywalk
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To: beckett
That's who I thought he was.

This commentary has a load of common sense in it. More people should read it.
13 posted on 06/03/2003 1:01:39 PM PDT by eyespysomething (Breaking down the stereotypes of soccer moms everyday!)
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To: beckett
We must have the rest of the story captured here!


"I Was Wrong!"
By Ken Joseph, Jr.
Amman, Jordan
Printable Version Here (PDF)

How do you admit you were wrong? What do you do when you realize those you were defending, in fact, did not want your defense and wanted something completely different from you and from the world?

This is my story. It will probably upset everybody - those with whom I have fought for peace all my life and those for whom the decision for war comes a bit too fast.

I am an Assyrian. I was born and raised in Japan where I am the second generation in ministry after my Father came to Japan in answer to General Douglas Macarthur's call for 10,000 young people to help rebuild Japan following the war.

As a minister and due to my personal convictions I have always been against war for any and all reasons. It was precisely this moral conviction that led me to do all I could to stop the current war in Iraq.

From participating in demonstrations against the war in Japan to strongly opposing it on my radio program, on television and in regular columns I did my best to stand against what I thought to be an unjust war against an innocent people - in fact my people.

As an Assyrian I was told the story of our people from a young age. How my grandparents had escaped the great Assyrian Holocaust in 1917 settling finally in Chicago.

Currently there are approximately six million Assyrians - approximately 2.5 million in Iraq and the rest scattered in the Assyrian Diaspora across the world.

Without a country and rights even in our native land it has been the prayer of generations that the Assyrian Nation will one day be restored and the people of the once great Assyrian Empire will once again be home.


It was with that feeling, together with supplies for our Church and family that I went to Iraq to do all I could to help make a difference.

The feeling as I crossed the border was exhilarating - `home at last, I hought, as I would for the first time visit the land of my forefathers.

The kindness of the border guards when they learned I was Assyrian, the taxi, the people on the street it was like being back `home` after a long absence.

Now I finally know myself! The laid back, relaxed atmosphere, the kindness to strangers, the food, the smells, the language all seemed to trigger a long lost memory somewhere in my deepest DNA.

The first order of business was to attend Church. It was here where my morals were raked over the coals and I was first forced to examine them in the harsh light of reality.

Following a beautiful `Peace` to welcome the Peace Activists in which even the children participated,
we moved to the next room to have a simple meal.

`What in the world do you mean?` I asked.

`How could you not want peace?` `We don't want peace. We want the war to come.`

Sitting next to me was an older man who carefully began to sound me out. Apparently feeling the freedom to talk in the midst of the mingling crowd he suddenly turned to me and said `There is something you should know.` `What` I asked surprised at the sudden comment.

`We didn't want to be here tonight`. he continued. `When the Priest asked us to gather for a Peace Service we said we didn't want to come`. He said.

`What do you mean` I inquired, confused. `We didn't want to come because we don't want peace` he replied.

`What in the world do you mean?` I asked. `How could you not want peace?` `We don't want peace. We want the war to come` he continued.

What in the world are you talking about? I blurted back.

That was the beginning of a strange odyssey that deeply shattered my convictions and moral base but at the same time gave me hope for my people and, in fact, hope for the world.


Beginning that night and continuing on in the private homes of relatives with whom I stayed little by little the scales began to come off my eyes.

I had not realized it but began to realize that all foreigners in Iraq are subject to 24 hour surveillance by government `minders` who arrange all interviews, visits and contact with ordinary Iraqis. Through some fluke either by my invitation as a religious person and or my family connection I was not subject to any government `minders` at any time throughout my stay in Iraq.

As far as I can tell I was the only person including the media, Human Shields and others in Iraq without a Government `minder` there to guard.

What emerged was something so awful that it is difficult even now to write about it. Discussing with the head of our tribe what I should do as I wanted to stay in Baghdad with our people during their time of trial I was told that I could most help the Assyrian cause by going out and telling the story to the outside world.

Simply put, those living in Iraq, the common, regular people are in a living nightmare. From the terror that would come across the faces of my family at a unknown visitor, telephone call, knock at the door I began to realize the horror they lived with every day.

Over and over I questioned them `Why could you want war? Why could any human being desire war?` They're answer was quiet and measured. `Look at our lives!`We are living like animals. No food, no car, no telephone, no job and most of all no hope.`

I would marvel as my family went around their daily routine as normal as could be. Baghdad was completely serene without even a hint of war. Father would get up, have his breakfast and go off to work. The children to school, the old people - ten in the household to their daily chores.

`You can not imagine what it is to live with war for 20, 30 years. We have to keep up our routine or we would lose our minds`

Then I began to see around me those seemingly in every household who had lost their minds. It seemed in every household there was one or more people who in any other society would be in a Mental Hospital and the ever present picture of a family member killed in one of the many wars.

Having been born and raised in Japan where in spite of 50 years of democracy still retains vestiges of the 400 year old police state I quickly began to catch the subtle nuances of a full blown, modern police state.

I wept with family members as I shared their pain and with great difficulty and deep soul searching began little by little to understand their desire for war to finally rid them of the nightmare they were living in.

The terrible price paid in simple, down to earth ways - the family member with a son who just screams all the time, the family member who lost his wife who left unable to cope anymore, the family member going to a daily job with nothing to do, the family member with a son lost to the war, a husband lost to alcoholism the daily, difficult to perceive slow death of people for whom all hope is lost.

The pictures of Sadaam Hussein whom people hailed in the beginning with great hope everywhere. Sadaam Hussein with his hand outstretched. Sadaam Hussein firing his rifle. Sadaam Hussein in his Arab Headdress. Sadaam Hussein in his classic 30 year old picture - one or more of these four pictures seemed to be everywhere on walls, in the middle of the road, in homes, as statues - he was everywhere!

All seeing, all knowing, all encompassing.

`Life is hell. We have no hope. But everything will be ok once the war is over.` The bizarre desire for a war that would rid them of the hopelessness was at best hard to understand.

`Look at it this way. No matter how bad it is we will not all die. We have hoped for some other way but nothing has worked. 12 years ago it went almost all the way but failed. We cannot wait anymore. We want the war and we want it now`

Coming back to family members and telling them of progress in the talks at the United Nations on working some sort of compromise with Iraq I was welcomed not with joy but anger. `No, there is no other way! We want the war! It is the only way he will get out of our lives`

Once again going back to my Japanese roots I began to understand. The stories I had heard from older Japanese of how in a strange way they had welcomed the sight of the bombers in the skies over Japan.

I had been demonstrating against the war thinking I had been doing it for the very people I was here with now and yet I had not ever bothered to ask them what they wanted.

Of course nobody wanted to be bombed but the first sight of the American B29 Bombers signaled to them that the war was coming to an end. An end was in sight. There would be terrible destruction. They might very well die but finally in a tragic way there was finally hope.

Then I began to feel so terrible. Here I had been demonstrating against the war thinking I had been doing it for the very people I was here now with and yet I had not ever bothered to ask them what they wanted. What they wanted me to do.

It was clear now what I should do. I began to talk to the so called `human shields`. Have you asked the people here what they want? Have you talked to regular people, away from your `minder` and asked them what they want?

I was shocked at the response. `We don't need to do that. We know what they want.` was the usual reply before a minder stepped up to check who I was.

With tears streaming down my face in my bed in a tiny house in Baghdad crowded in with 10 other of my own flesh and blood, all exhausted after another day of not living but existing without hope, exhausted in daily struggle simply to not die I had to say to myself `I was wrong`.

How dare I claim to speak for those for whom I had never asked what they wanted!


Then I began a strange journey to do all I could while I could still remain to as asked by our tribe let the world know of the true situation in Iraq.

Carefully and with great risk, not just for me but most of all for those who told their story and opened up their homes for the camera I did my best to tape their plight as honestly and simply as I could. Whether I could get that precious tape out of the country was a different story.

What I was not prepared for was the sheer terror they felt at speaking out.

Wanting to make sure I was not simply getting the feelings of a long oppressed minority - the Assyrians - I spoke to dozens of people. What I was not prepared for was the sheer terror they felt at speaking out.

Over and over again I would be told `We would be killed for speaking like this` and finding out that they would only speak in a private home or where they were absolutely sure through the introduction of another Iraqi that I was not being attended by a minder.

From a former member of the Army to a person working with the police to taxi drivers to store owners to mothers to government officials without exception when allowed to speak freely the message was the same - `Please bring on the war. We are ready. We have suffered long enough. We may lose our lives but some of us will survive and for our children's sake please, please end our misery.

On the final day for the first time I saw the signs of war. For the first time sandbags began appearing at various government buildings but the solders putting them up and then later standing within the small circle they created gave a clear message they could not dare speak.

They hated it. They despised it. It was their job and they made clear in the way they worked to the common people watching that they were on their side and would not fight.

Near the end of my time a family member brought the word that guns had just been provided to the members of the Baath Party and for the first time we saw the small but growing signs of war.

But what of their feelings towards the United States and Britain? Those feelings are clearly mixed. They have no love for the British or the Americans but they trust them.

`We are not afraid of the American bombing. They will bomb carefully and not purposely target the people. What we are afraid of is Saddam Hussein and what he and the Baath Party will do when the war begins. But even then we want the war. It is the only way to escape our hell. Please tell them to hurry. We have been through war so many times,but this time it will give us hope`.


The final call for help came at the most unexpected place - the border. Sadly, and sent off by the crying members of my family I left. Things were changing by the hour - the normally $100 ride from Baghdad to Amman was first $300 then $500 and by nightfall $1,000.

As we came to the border we began the routine paperwork and then the search of our vehicle. Everything was going well until suddenly the border guard asked if I had any money. We had been carefully instructed to make sure we only carried $300 when we returned so I began to open up the pouch that carried my passport and money stuffed in my shorts.

Suddenly the guard began to pat me down. `Oh, no`! I thought. It`s all over`. We had been told of what happened if you got caught with videotape, a cellular telephone or any kind of electronic equipment that had not been declared.

A trip back to Baghdad, a likely appearance before a judge, in some cases 24-48 hour holding and more.

He immediately found the first videotape stuffed in my pocket and took it out. I could see the expression of terror on the driver as he stifled a scream.

The guard shook his head as he reached into my pocket and took out another tape and then from pocket after pocket began to take out tape after tape, cellular telephone, computer camera - all the wrong things.

We all stood there in sheer terror - for a brief moment experiencing the feeling that beginning with my precious family members every Iraqi feels not for a moment but day and night, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That terrible feeling that your life is not yours that its fate rests in someone else's hands that simply by the whim of the moment they can determine.

For one born free a terrifying feeling if but for an instant.

As the guard slowly laid out the precious video tape on the desk we all waited in silent terror for the word to be taken back to Baghdad and the beginning of the nightmare.

He didn't have to say a word. I had learned the language of the imprisoned Iraqi.

Suddenly he laid the last videotape down and looked up. His face is frozen in my memory but it was to me the look of sadness, anger and then a final look of quiet satisfaction as he clinically shook his head and quietly without a word handed all the precious videotape - the cry of those without a voice - to me.

He didn't have to say a word. I had learned the language of the imprisoned Iraqi. Forbidden to speak by sheer terror they used the one language they had left - human kindness.

As his hands slowly moved to give the tape over he said in his own way what my Uncle had said, what the taxi driver had said, what the broken old man had said, what the man in the restaurant had said, what the Army man had said, what the man working for the police had said, what the old woman had said, what the young girl had said - he said it for them in the one last message a I crossed the border from tyranny to freedom . . .

Please take these tapes and show them to the world. Please help us . . . . and please hurry!

Ken Joseph Jr. is an Assyrian, a minister and was born, raised and resides in Japan where he directs, the Japan Helpline and the Keikyo Institute

14 posted on 06/03/2003 1:06:10 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (Where is Saddam? and his Weapons of Mass Destruction?)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Powerful commentary. Thank you for posting.
15 posted on 06/03/2003 2:11:59 PM PDT by Think free or die
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To: beckett
Joseph stills talks like a leftist. His favorite word is "ban"
16 posted on 06/03/2003 2:28:47 PM PDT by Austin Willard Wright
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To: beckett
Third, begin immediate 24-hour television in Arabic, Kurdish and Assyrian -- the principle languages of Iraq. It is unbelievable that to date, it is not up and running while neighboring Iran continues to blare unbelievable messages into Iraq.

I've been somewhat dumbfounded about this myself. I've been having a sinking feeling that we'll screw it up.

17 posted on 06/03/2003 2:42:50 PM PDT by nosofar
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To: thinktwice
The Shiites in Iraq remind me of the Bible pounders in America.

The maintenance of freedom requires eternal vigilance against religion.

So, what do you propose? Shall we ban the 'Bible pounders' from politics? Herd all of them into camps? No, too much of a drain on the public purse... just shoot 'em.

Please, tell us about how American Christians threatened your family with rape, torture, arson, etc.

If the 'Bible pounders' are the greatest threat to freedom in America, we're in pretty d*** good shape.

18 posted on 06/03/2003 2:44:49 PM PDT by Constitutionalist Conservative (
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To: beckett
Good post. There are two logs put out daily by the number ONE source of info on the war: CENTCOM. The press mocks the daily reports and refuses to print the info, though CENTCOM has been the most reliable source of info from day one. They are professional and careful....could toot their horns more often. Because the press hasn't bothered to report all the good works we do daily, they undermine our efforts, frighten the Iraqi people and mislead the world.

CENTCOM needs to get the reports to the Iraqi people. ONE TV channel. ONE newspaper. When America has NO news outlet to stand up for AMERICA...something's seriously wrong with the mainstream press.

June 3, 2003
Release Number: 03-06-09


CAMP DOHA, Kuwait -- Coalition Forces continue to aggressively patrol Iraq to eliminate crimes against people and property, rid populated areas of weapons, ammunition and explosives, and stop the black market trade in fuel and other commodities. Coalition Forces also continue to conduct joint security patrols with Iraqi police in their efforts to increase the professionalism of the police force and prepare them for their role in a self-governed Iraq.

Coalition Activity:

In the last 24 hours of raids and patrolling activity, soldiers from V Corps seized 27 AK-47 rifles, 44 rocket-grenade launchers, five pistols, a grenade and a machine gun. They turned the weapons in to U.S. military collection points for safekeeping or disposal.

Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division captured a former bodyguard of Uday Hussein during a series of raids near Kirkuk recently. They captured ten other Iraqis with ties to the former regime and detained them for questioning.

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division on patrol in Baghdad recently detained several men after observing them throw bags from the roof of one house to another. They found that the bags were full of money. They are holding the men for questioning. They also seized four AK-47 rifles and two pistols from the men.

Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Division raided a house in Baghdad yesterday in search of suspected murderers. They detained and are questioning one man who claims to have information on organized pockets of resistance in the area.

Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment raided a house in Fallujah yesterday where Ba'ath party members were thought to be hiding. Nobody was at the house but they confiscated six rifles, several bags of ammunition and a flare gun.

Police Activity in the Last 24 Hours:

Coalition Forces conducted 4 raids and a total of 2,261 patrols throughout Iraq. Of those patrols, they conducted 249 joint Iraqi and Coalition patrols. They also detained or arrested 171 individuals for a variety of criminal activities, including looting, curfew violations, weapons violations, theft, larceny and dealing drugs.

Recent Police Activity:

The Karbala Police Department arrested several men from Fallujah yesterday after observing them acting suspiciously. They seized over 1,000 heavy machine gun rounds, 120 mortar fuses, 15 60mm mortar rounds and several grenades.

Iraqi police and soldiers of the 307th Military Police Company in Baghdad were recently approached by two Iraqi men who had detained two individuals they claimed were wanted for murder. The two men had proper court warrants for the arrest of the two men they had detained. Iraqi police took the two suspects into custody. The Iraqi police also seized a hand grenade they found when they searched the suspects.

Iraqi police in Baghdad recently detained two men for stealing a vehicle and stabbing a man. The two are being detained until a judge reviews the case.

June 3, 2003
Release Number: 03-06-06


CAMP DOHA, Kuwait – Coalition Forces continue to assist in developing a safer and more secure environment in Iraq through the following activities.

Coalition Forces:
• Continued measures to reduce crime, host neighborhood advisory council meetings and provide school and medical supplies.
• Contracted 350-400 Iraqis to begin work at the International Airport, tentatively planning on resuming commercial traffic in the next month.
• Reports the Baghdad City Hall should be fully operational in 2 weeks.
• Recently destroyed 34 tons of captured Iraqi ordnance. A total of 6,319 tons of ammunition from 13 out of 23 cache sites have been consolidated and removed from Baghdad to date.
• Collected soccer balls for distribution as part of “Operation US Soccer,” an American Youth Soccer Organization sponsored program.
• Worked with the Government of Jordan and Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) key officials to increase Iraqi business involvement with the Jordanian American Business Association (JABA) Iraqi Reconstruction Conference. About 400 business and government officials have registered for the conference.
• Provided Coalition military construction support to assess and repair an Iraqi police station, restore municipal facilities at Abu Ghraib, and the Mansour, Thawra, Al Rashid, and Karkh.
• Met with about 500 food distribution agents to prepare for food distribution operations this week.
• Met with USAID representatives to share information on civil affairs capabilities and provide small loans to businesses.
• Distributed 3.4 million liters of gasoline, and 58,940 bottles of propane in Baghdad.


Coalition Forces:
• Conducted a Task Force Neighborhood mission in Makhmur, focusing cleanup operations on the local school and market area.
• Continued road-building operations in the Bardiyah area.
• Continued deliveries of potable water to the Sununi area, and hosted a meeting among local water supervisors and Red Cross personnel to determine the long-term water supply needs in the area.
• Replaced unserviceable culverts in Baqubah.
• Plan to fill medical supply shortfalls within 48 hours in Al Biaj.
• Received 22 trucks of bulk food shipments at Ar Ramadi UN Food distribution site, for a total of 525 shipments to date.


23rd Marine Regiment recently:
• Assisted in efforts renovate a former Iraqi Army water treatment plant that provides filtered and chlorinated water to approximately 5,000 people.

7th Marine Regiment recently:
• Reported continued power improvements. The city currently has 100 megawatts of power, 55 from the power grid and 45 from the power plant, more than double their previous power supply.
• Assisted in World Food Program food distribution at two sites.

• Received 33 benzene/gasoline trucks.

• Reported electric power was restored to 60 megawatts, which exceeds pre-war conditions.
• Coordinated with the Ministry of Education in Baghdad for funds to support end of year school tests and test administration.

Also, the WH website has an Iraqi Liberation section, updated weekly:

Quotes from the grateful Iraqi people. Y

19 posted on 06/03/2003 2:52:58 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("Our men and women in uniform have won for us every hour that we live in freedom." - Pres. Bush)
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To: beckett
The version on Ken Joseph's website has two additional paragraphs at the end:
The US - not the UN, not the Arab League, not international peacekeepers but as in Japan is the greatest guarantee that Iraq will rise from the ashes of war to be a leader for good in the Middle East and begin the "domino" effect of toppling dictators throughout the world in the second phase of the falling of the "Berlin Wall.

The revolution of 1776 where the Americans declared independence from tyranny and freedom for the "regular people" deserves nothing less.

20 posted on 06/03/2003 3:15:26 PM PDT by Constitutionalist Conservative (
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