Wake up Calls
June 27, 2005
The jury of conscience has just released it’s recommendations after the culminating session of the World Tribunal
on Iraq came to its conclusion. I’ll post the news story I wrote on this later, which will provide more details.
I will add now, as a preface to a letter I received just now from an Iraqi who asked me to pass it on to the American people,
that the jury made the following recommendations:
“The recommendations made by the jury included the demand for an immediate, unconditional withdraw of all occupation
forces, the governments of the coalition to pay full compensation to Iraqis for any and all damages, and that all laws, contracts,
treaties and institutions created under the occupation that Iraqi people deem harmful or un-useful to them be banished.
Other recommendations included immediate investigations of crimes against humanity for Mr. George Bush, Tony Blair,
and every other president of countries belonging to the coalition. In addition, the jury called for a process of accountability
to begin to bring justice to journalists and media outlets that lied and promoted the violence against Iraq, as well as including
corporations who have profited from the war.”
Here is the letter from my friend:
From an Iraqi citizen to the American people:
We always have thought that you are citizens; away from the savageness which controls many people in the world because
you suffered from the injustice of your own occupation more than two hundred and fifty years ago.
Therefore, you picked
up weapons against the occupiers until you forced him to go out of your state which was a great victory for you.
this occupier was giving unreasonable justifications for his stay in your country. Like any occupation, no country ever admit
that they occupy some land but always says that they are a liberator of the people who are then unable to govern themselves
and so on…
Such reasons cannot change the origin of occupation.
Nowadays, your army is occupying our homeland, destroying our
homes and killing our men, women, and our children. The occupation is leaving this country full of chaos to the point we are
now facing so many disasters, including suffering from looting and robbery.
Sudden attacks and cruel murders have been perpetrated by your army who then prevent all people from submitting judicial
complaints. This encourages all soldiers to kill thoughtlessly without any threat of trial.
We have seen our Holy Quran desecrated by soldiers, but you continue to say your soldiers do not do what the Mogul and
Barbarians did in the lands they occupied.
Your soldiers did many immoral acts but your government leaders have done even more.
We, the Iraqi people, do not put the responsibility of this on your shoulders because you are a people and not your government.
But when the people have a decision in the fate of their country and decide to go in a direction which only benefits the government,
this means that the people are satisfied with their governments’ actions.
When you elected Mr. Bush for the second time, this was a declaration from you of being satisfied with all his acts in
violation of the holiness of a state which shares a place with yours in the United Nations Security Council
Has the age of occupation returned back to a place where agreements and treaties and international laws which forbid aggression
are useless? When the people who chose to defend their land and reject the occupier are then described by your government
as a terrorist? How long have you heard that an occupation which continues will have no resistance against it? Do you refer
to the patriots of your own country as terrorists in your history books?
Have you ever heard that there is a peaceful occupation? One that ended in victory for the occupier?
American people, please remember the land of Iraq and remember the Iraqi people and think of yourselves as if you were
in our place. In this way you will realize what Iraqis suffer.
I am an Iraqi who bears no grudge against any person
all over the world. We simply wish that other people may realize our suffering now, especially the people who do not support
their thoughtless governments and their aggressive acts. For the people who support these corrupted governments will be responsible
for them, and history will hold them responsible for allowing this tragedy to have occurred.
This will be a shame on their ancestors who will not be able to hide this black page of history.
Thank to the American
people for listening attentively, and I am wishing you reasonableness and the ability to comprehend the truth.
©2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail
Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches
Letter to America
Eve Ensler, MMN
Saturday July 09 2005
I am longing to reach you-crossing this river of indifference and consumption
and denial. I am trying to find you, reaching out through the desperate limitations of words and descriptions, swimming through
the rhetoric of terror and God.
I need you to wake up. The house is on fire and you are still sleeping, lulled by the
intoxication of smoke and mirrors. I need you to wake up and I know that shaking you, scaring you will only make you cling
to your sleep and sleep more.
How then do I tell you what's going on? How do I tell you about the one hundred thousand
dead Iraqi people that you and I are responsible for murdering. Each one of them valued their life, longed
for their morning, cherished their first cup of milk or coffee or tea. In what way shall I deliver what I learned? The substance
identical to illegal napalm that melted tender five year old skin; the cluster bombs that have left their murderous and disguised
offspring, throngs of bomblets set to explode, scattered on the Iraqi earth; the depleted uranium from the Bunker Busters
we dropped that now lives in lungs and livers and soil.
How do I tell you about the strategic planning
of such atrocities in the boardrooms, the backrooms, the back seats of limos, the organized take over and looting of Iraq
right out from under the terrorized, hungry, thirsty Iraqi people. How do I get you to listen to the stories
of our soldiers who are trying to kill themselves now, longing to escape the madness of murdering and maiming for no reason?
don't go back to sleep. I know how hard it is to hear of the massive black holes, called prisons we have dug to hold thousands
without charging them, without trials or the torture, the meanness, the cruelty we are inflicting upon them.
those who now control our country have changed and ended law. I do not believe you are so calloused or selfish that you do
not care. Your sleep is induced. You are distracted and derailed. The corporations have concocted and perfected these sleeping
potions for years, developing ingredients to make you despise every bit of yourself, to feel ugly and fat and stupid and poor
and not enough. And so you spend your time and every bit of the money you do not have buying products that will make you better,
skinnier, lighter, whiter, tighter. And as you consume and consume, the corporations consume you. They take your money and
your time and your voice and your instincts and your outrage and your sorrow and your anger and your grief. They consume your
courage and leave fear in its place. They devour your conscience and your memory and your compassion.
And how do I
speak when they are sure to tie my tongue? When they will say I do not love my country or support the troops or honor the
dead or believe in their God? How do I break through your sealed wrapping, your self-obsession, your TVheadphonedDVDcell pod?
I am getting desperate and I know this will not get me published or heard. Those who control the information will say I'm
extreme, that I've gone mad. But I have heard the cries of children in the exploding houses of Falluja.
I have seen the agonized faces of the sleepless Iraqi women who still clutch the outline of their charred dead babies in their
arms. I have watched as we as a nation grow more isolated, despised and alone.
America, there is not much time left.
The fire is spreading, consuming the world. We are the arsonists. We will need each other to find our way out through the
lies and haze. It will take our greatest imagination, courage and skill to subdue these flames.
letter was written immediately after The World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul where I served with thirteen others from around
the world on a jury chaired by Arundhati Roy. The Tribunal consisted of three days of hearings investigating various issues
related to the war on Iraq, such as the legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war crimes and the role of the
media, as well as the destruction of the cultural sites and the environment. The session in Istanbul was the culminating session
of commissions of inquiry and hearings held around the world over the past two years.
- Iraq death toll soared 'post war'
100,000 Iraqis dead (Lancet survey)
- US admits to use of napalm
Irregular Weapons Used Against Iraq
WHO studies depleted uranium in Iraq
- Rumsfeld, Amnesty trade barbs over prisoner abuse
- Army probes soldier suicides
Military Families Against the war
- Rumsfeld, Amnesty trade barbs over prisoner abuse
Systematic Use of Psychological Torture by US Forces
- This Is Our Guernica
A Poem and Thoughts by an American citizen:
under the fallujah sun
The body lies there, bloating
in the heat.
Down the street, the battered street,
lies another. A lonely figure sprawled
in death. No one near.
No loved ones.
No friends. Only the body lying in the gutter.
The marines, in their body armor, crabwalk
body. Their eyes constantly moving,
spying every tiny movement - the scrap of paper
blown by the wind draws instant
as does the dust devil that swirls near the
mouth of the alley. The only thing beneath
the notice of the
constantly vigilant eyes
is the unmoving body of the woman,
beneath the searing Fallujah sun.
I rarely offer an explanation for my poems. Poetry, like art, is meant to make the viewer think. The artist or poet has
failed if they have to explain it. This poem is a little different, so I did not hesitate when someone asked me to explain
This poem could have been written about any war, at any time, in any place. It happens to be about Iraq. It wasn't meant
to be a condemnation of the marines or even a condemnation of the Fallujah campaign. It is more like a reminder that, as General
Sherman said, "War is hell". The perpetrators and practioners of war try to hide that fact behind words like "smart bombs",
"surgical strikes", and "collateral damage".
In reality, war is about mangled bodies, torn limbs, dead children, steaming guts, and copious amounts of blood. War is
not clean and sanitary. On the contrary, it is about dead fathers, crippled brothers, missing husbands, lost sons, brutalized
daughters, butchered wives, and grieving mothers.
This war isn't about Saddam or WMD, it is about the more than one hundred thousand people who have died and the hundreds
of thousands more who have been maimed and injured - men, women, and children. All of this done in my name - and against my
Numbers like one hundred thousand dead are difficult to picture. Try imagining a pile of bodies that large. After a certain
point, it begins to dull the senses. I wanted to reduce that horrific image to a single body to drive the point home.
The woman in the poem isn't any particular person. The poem was inspired by the news reports during the offensive. Although
there was no particular photograph or report that inspired it, there is little doubt that there were bodies in the streets
of Fallujah during the campaign. That is what brought the imagery to mind.
The strange thing is that she has become real to me since I wrote the poem. I find myself wondering if she was found by
someone who knew her or if she just vanished from the lives of her friends and family. Did she receive a decent burial or
is she in an anonymous grave? Did she have children? Did they survive? Are they orphans?
Why was she on the street during this dangerous time? Was she a dutiful daughter trying to reach an elderly, shut-in parent
or grandparent? Was she searching for food for her hungry children or medical help for an ailing child? Was she simply in
the wrong place at the wrong time?
There are other questions - hard questions.
What would I say to her children if they asked me why she had to die? How do you explain to them that she was just "collateral
damage"? How do I explain to the children yet to be orphaned that I was against the war, yet did nothing to end it? Where
does my responsibility end - at the ballot box? Is that how I justify my inaction when I think about this in the future? I
did my part - I voted against Bush. Does that really excuse me?
I was going to end this post with the well-known quote from Edmund Burke - "All that is required for evil to prevail
is for good men to do nothing." However, there is a quote by Albert Einstein that I think is even more powerful -
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."
John Allen - March, 2005 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted courtesy of John Allen