Considering that those working as translators with American forces and American independent contractors (such as Blackwater) are among the most well educated and familiar with the democratic process Iraqis in that nation, aren't we harming the redevelopment of that nation by bringing these translators to the USA instead of encouraging them to engage themselves in the Iraqi political and education system to improve conditions in that nation? This just seems to be contradictory to the rebuilding process of the Iraqi nation to me.
Could your guests address how one would go about volunteering time or money to assist in the cause of helping Iraqui refugees - particularly those who helepd US soldiers - get to the US? Also, if one actually wanted to work in this field in the Portland area, what are the career opportunities?
Log in to the Check Point One Foundation Website. It is founded by Captain Jason Faler. He has brought 4 of his interpreters to Oregon. The foundation's homepage should answer all your questions.
Michael Zacchea, a marine who helped train the Iraqi military, brought his interpreter over to the states. It took over a year for all the paperwork to get done to get him here. Now that he is here, he has no work or interest from the government despite his skills and military clearance. Why isn't the State Dept, Pentagon, or CIA hiring these Iraqi refugees? Why is the quota at 500 a year?
The American Public is constantly told that the U.S. presence in Iraq is, although violent at times, a positive one. If this is true, why are the Iraqi?s who work with the U.S. military in Iraq targeted? By whom? My first question, which I hope both Bruns and Houzan will be able to answer, is whether or not the U.S. presence is in fact positive and if, as was stated yesterday in the hearings, sustainable progress is being made.
This is such a difficult question because there are so many layers to it. The answer depends on the context in which you view it. How do you measure progress? Here are some of the things in which I saw - both positive and negative. I will let you determine whether it is progress or not.
1. Women now have a legal role in the government. It is mandated that any potlitical party that wants government recognition and to be considered a legal party must have 1/3 of its members females. This did not exist before.
2. Women now have a right to choose and go after their career choices to include government postions (police and military). again, this was not an option under Saddam's rule.
3. Sunni, Shia, and kurds have a right to official positions such as officers in the military, police, governement, ect. Before, only the Sunni were allowed these positions (this was the sect of Saddam). All sects are taking advantage of these positions. I used to listen to Shia and Kurd men tell me how this opportunity was a dream for them. Never did they think they would be able to be a police officer or a military officer. It just wasn't a possibility for them due to their sect affiliation - which they are born into.
4. The doors for medicine and medical learning to Iraq have opened. There are exchanges happening between Iraq and the US to increase educational levels. I spoke with Doctors who said they've had no new medical material since the 50's. They did not know simple procedures and were desperate for to learn them. When I left, not only were exchanges happening, but computers were being installed in hospitals so they could have internet access to look up various medical issues. Medicines were also being brought in. Still, historically we know the lack of medicines is due in part to the US.
5. Technology has hit Iraq with the opening of the doors. This could be a positive or negative depeninding on how you look at it. With technology, there are cell phones, microvaves, computers,movies, music, ect. - basics that we take for granted here. There is also access to all sorts of information they did not have access to before.
6. Relationships are being built. Both cultures are learning about each other intimately in a variety of ways. There is daily interaction between communities on the ground - both the positive and negative type. I saw tribal leaders and American sitting down together work on issues in their communities.
1. Radicals from all over the world have come to Iraq and have made it a space in which to war. Hatred has become a disease.
2. Kids can't always get to school because of the fighting. We know from history that education is critical to national and global stability. Materials are being supplied ...
3. People cannot have a normal family evening out - security is still the big issue.
4. Cultural issues arose at meetings that Americans were unaware of. They just simply didn't know.
Honostly, i could on and on but I think we get enough of the bad stuff in the news.
Ultimately, the country is in big transition (this is an under statement - I know) and we have yet to see what will happen. I don't have a crystal ball that can give a true answer. Iraq is trying to figure itself out and there are all sorts of different places, peoples, and countries that are contributing influences. In the end, only time will tell. Iraq has to be the one to decide what it wants and I think they are still figuring that out. I can tell you, that almost every Iraqi i spoke with said it needed America to stay. They had so many people coming in from others countries (syria, Iran, Yemen, Saudi, Jordan, egypt, ect.) and destroying things, that they felt they needed help. Of course, the irony of it is the American invasion helped to bring all this craziness there. There are second and third order effects to everything we do. If we stay, the effects ripple out. If we leave the effects ripple out. The positives and negatives have to be weighed as well as the possible second and third order effects for both sides of the fence. It is a more than complicated task. One thing I know for sure is that we cannot undo what has been done. We cannot go backwards. A Tanzanian Nun once told me that God has only speed and it isn't reverse. I am not saying "take the flag and charge." I am saying we've got to have dialogue that moves past "George Bush and the lies" and start looking to what we can do to help move in a more positive direction. Conflict management might be a good place to start.
We also have to think about what is the object of our intent when we make decisions? Are we coming from a place that is of good will and healthy? Or is it one of mal -intent? These are basic things in ourselves that we can address in everyday life as well as in the global perspective.
Questions for Houzan:
Are you afraid of retaliation from Iraqi's? how much are you protected by the military? And, do you experience xenophobia here in the US?
I limit my interaction with other Arabs, including Iraqis. Part of meeting people involves introducing myself and answering biographical questions. Due to the fact that my family is still in Iraq, I cant not reveal any specifics on me or my family now. I do fear for my family's safety.
Most of my military friends are still in touch with me. They constantly check on me and try to help me in any shape or form they can. As far as protection, i do not know what you mean exactly or how you think it should be conducted. I would appreciate if you can elaborate on this more.
The father of a Vietnamese friend was a Helicopter pilot for the Americans until the pull out. When Saigon fell he was captured and put into prison for 8 years. When he got out he was able to get out and bring his family to the US. The whole family works, but are handicapped by great difficulty speaking English. The Iraqi Interpreters are not anonymous "they" as a class. They are individuals that we should treat with gratitude and respect. If they come to the US, our country can only be the better for it. Iraq will have spokespersons among us who know actual conditions. Nothing will keep them from going back to help with Iraqi politics except a bullet to the head before we can get them out.
Houzan appears to be one of the few 'winners' of this war.
It always amazes me how far simple communication can go to humanize people in opposite positions from ourselves.
I do not believe there are "winners" in a war. Please, would you tell me how you identified me and the other "few" as "winners"?
The only winners in the War Against Iraq are Bush/Cheney/Rice and their Godless Global Oil Corporations and the group who planned the War long before 911, the PNAC, The Project for the New American Century, a modernized version of what Mussolini called Corporative State Fascism. Everybody else lost and are still losing.
What an incredibly evil bunch of people they are.
I do think that folks who have put themselves at risk in Iraq by working with the US should be allowed to come to the US. However, there are more than just translators at risk: the war has created so many displaced persons/refugees from Iraq, and not all of them have a place to go. For example, Al-Tanaf refugee camp is located in no man's land between Iraq and Syria. Several families (about 450 Palestinians) have been stranded there most now for more than two years in the middle of the desert far away from any population center. They cannot go back to Iraq, and they are not accepted into any host country so far. Since the US bears so much of the responsibility for creating these dislocations, we ought to be accepting a healthy proportion of the most at risk refugees as well as people like translators.
Do most Iraqis fear American soldiers? What are the general thoughts of America and it's soldiers.
I agree with the first comment and am curious as to how exporting Iraq's brightest minds is best for Iraq or the US? One of the unfortunate results of Hussein's regime was the exodus of the intellectuals and progressives. Would our efforts not be better spent assuring the safety of these individuals IN their homeland so that they can emerge to become leaders of a free Iraq and assumingly with American sympathies?
I?ve always wondered why some Frenchmen collaborated with their right-wing Fascist occupiers during World War 2, so now I wonder what it is like to betray your country and collaborate with the illegal right-wing Bush/Cheney invading force. What are the reasons that bring oneself to that low circumstance? It must have been pretty desperate straits.
I wonder how much respect the Vichy collaborators were given by their invaders and how that compares to now? It?s hard to imagine anyone giving much respect to someone who betrayed their country.
Tom, you are a coward to make such a vile statement about a woman who risked so much for her country. Perhaps you aren't aware of what life was like during Saddam's rule, or haven't read much about the American occupation from sources other that far-left sources. You have no idea how many lives she saved, or what she risked.
I have read your post.
I appreciate your nice and sweet feelings and your understanding. Thank you.
Every eleven bravo forty that I ever served with or met would have had the courage to post under their own name, please don?t sully the honorable name of the infantry by posting anonymously, please have some courage.
And, I have read and thought about sources and history from all over the political map so I have far more than just the simplistic Bush/Cheney propaganda view of Iraq. I didn?t drink the kool-aid.
Thank you for bringing this issue up. It must have occurred to many people's mind. I think the interpreters are targeted ,partially, because they are perceived as "betrayers." Instead of killing the interpreters, i would rather to have an open discussion to understand OUR point of view.
If interpreters, whom their acquisition of the English language is their skill, have decided to suppress that skill and just sit home;merely be an observer, how would that help Iraq? How would taking the stand of observer and pretending it is not my business , make me NOT a betrayer of my country?
Thank you for your considered, well thought response.
And I want to apologize on behalf of the very many decent Americans for allowing our fascist Conservative Republicans to invade your country so many times, for their supporting the murderer Saddam Hussein, and specifically for Bush/Cheney and their Project for the New American Century (a neo-fascist group who want to dominate the world like their predecessors, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini).
We're sorry for what our Conservative Republicans have one to your country.
I wish you well.
Rebekah-Mae, I've always been intrigued by military photographers. Do you think of your photography as an art? How do you practice art in a war zone? Do you prefer a certain subject matter for your art that might actually be violent or dangerous? Do you ever feel that taking pictures in difficult situations is exploitative or intrusive?
First, let me thanks you for your thoughtful questions. These are issues I struggled with in Iraq and continue to struggle with today. They present a multitude of moral dilemas for me - I often wonder if I am the only one who thinks about them or if there are others who also have these thoughts move through them.
I don't know how to make the answers to the questions you ask fit on this page when there has been years of consideration and weighing of them. I will give it my best. I think of photography not only as an art, but also a kind of medium that can give voice to those who otherwise might not be heard. The difficulty is in portraying what it is you think they (those being photographed) want to say. There's a kind of permission I think you have to have from them. Sometimes I get to speak with them beforehand and other times I don't. I try to put myself in their position, feel/sense what they are experiencing/ feeling, and then recreate that with an image. This is a kind of art, but it is also an understanding or attempted understanding of someone else's experience. Invariably, I become a part of that experience. No matter how separate (objective) you might try to make yourself - in the end, it is impossible. Still, for the sake of history and recreating it, you try. Photography then is a kind of voice, a living history, and an art.
How do I practice art in a war zone? I think I partially answered that above. Still, there are events that transpired where I did not have the time to think about it - due to whatever ensuing chaos - and I just put my finger on the button. From these kinds of photos, I never know what will come out. They are sometimes the most difficult for me to look at.
Do I prefer a certain subject matter for my art that might actually be violent or dangerous? No. I have done more photography that is non-violent than I have violent. I am deeply affected by both. If I am being completely honost, I did go into the Iraq war with ideas about what I wanted to photograph. Initially, I wasnt thinking so much about the violence as I was about the more human element of the Soldier. War can bring out not only the worst of men and women, but also the best. I thought this side of the soldier was unnoticed. I went looking for it - the humaness. I found it in Soldiers and I found it in the Iraqi people. It was more powerful than I ever anticipated.
Do you ever feel that taking pictures in difficult situations is exploitive or intrusive? Absolutley. If I see that people do not want me to photograph them, then I as a general rule I don't. There has to be permission whether passive or explicit. It's important to me that people are willing to share themselves because I don't believe photgraphy is a one-sided event.
I also try to think about what the greater good is. Is this making of this event for the greater good? What will its impact be on local, regional and world communities? What negative things can come from it? Can this be balanced out? What is the ulitmate purpose? What is my moral responsibility in this? ect.....There are a million and one ethical dilemas that come into play. It is a struggle in my brain and heart because I am not without conscience. I've had photos I made turn up in places completely unexpected and used for things they were never intended for. These are just a few of the things that I have to think about.
I hope this answers your questions adequately. Thank you again for your sincere questions.
Thank you all for participating in this discussion and for your gracious comments.
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