Backtalk, August 12, 2005

Female Circumcision Surfaces in Iraq

It’s just before 2:00 a.m. on the east coast, and the fifth headline from the top on – immediately after the report about nine more U.S. military deaths – announces that female circumcision has, ah, "surfaced" in Iraq. If there’s one thing that puzzles me more than how one would detect that characteristic of the genitalia of women in the Kirkuk region, it would be "what does this have to do with the war?"

It’s a fact that some women are circumcised, not only in Iraq, but in Egypt and Kenya, and numerous other countries. But in most of the same countries you’ll find they are a minority, but that 100% of adult men have been circumcised.

Is any of this worth a news story? What do customary practices such as these have to do with the war? Why is it news? Why is it even anybody else’s business?

Okay. Back to the suicide bombers, the improvised explosive devices, the ambushes, the insurgencies, and the Great Quagmire of the Dubya Administration.

~ Liz

Eric Garris replies:

It is significant because this is something that is resurfacing in Iraq: a result of the "religious liberation" that we have helped visit upon Iraq through our invasion.

The Neocons’ Childish Theory

Mr. Reese,

Right on! This IS just like Vietnam. I did a tour there as a U.S. Marine and when I finally got to come back home, the crap I left was as bad as when I got there. Thirteen months for nothing. Oh, I lost some good friends, but we did not accomplish anything lasting other than grave markers for the dead.

This rotten sh*t of "war without end" needs to be stopped. The sooner the better.

On the traditional battlefield, no other country can match us. In the sort of mess we are in now, we cannot win.

~ Charlie Ehlen, Glenmora, LA

What Have We Done?

To Dahr Jamail:

Thank you for this article with the unvarnished words of firsthand experience from some of our Iraq war veterans (I am a member of Military Families Speak Out: my fiancé is in Iraq right now, courtesy of stop-loss). Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to be able to drive up to the antiwar rally in Fayetteville, NC and hear the IVAW group speak about what they saw, went through, and are working towards.

It was an unforgettable privilege for me to be able to shake the hand of Mr. Michael Hoffman and extend my (inadequate, but heartfelt) bit of support, welcome home, and thank you, to the group. IVAW was kind enough to respond to me and send me a bumper sticker for my car that reads: "I support Iraq Veterans Against the War."

The bumper sticker is prominently displayed on my car every single day – and I am always surprised by the number of honks and waves I get in support! I hope all of us together can make a difference to END Mr. Bush’s ABOMINATION!

~ Ms. L. Johnson, Atlanta, GA

Lt. Col. Bob Roth’s Backtalk

Lt. Col. Roth wrote: “Do we stand and do nothing and let genocide happen as it did in Bosnia, in Rwanda, in Afghanistan, in Iraq?” and: “I believe former President Clinton even apologized this past week for doing nothing in the Rwanda genocide. Now, we have genocide in Sudan.”

How can one respond to such statements, pointing out what should be clear and prescient issues without sounding like a "holocaust denier" or "apologist"? One can’t. This is one of the rhetorical strengths of Roth’s position. If anybody questions his rationalization of his actions then they’re obviously the lowest of the low, Nazis or Stalinists depending on which end of the ideological spectrum they inhabit.

His other rhetorical strength is that he’s arguing an apparently apolitical, centrist, non-ideological case. How can you debate the desire to uphold universal human rights? You can’t argue with it. What should be obvious to anyone not in the thrall of humanitarianism is that these situations arise because of political crises and that resolving those crises is the only solution. But, at the risk of creating a straw man, I suspect that Roth would consider such an argument an apologia for genocide.

Genocide? In Bosnia, Rwanda, Afghanistan (what?), Iraq, and now Sudan? I invite Lt. Col. Roth to consider all the evidence (Balkan Express being a good starting point in relation to Bosnia) of these alleged genocides before he uses them as justification for his actions. And I won’t even go into the genocides committed BY the U.S. and it’s all-conquering, ever-popular, loved by one and all (that they don’t kill, fingers crossed).

One example. Clinton apologized for doing nothing in Rwanda? This is a sick joke. That a Lt. Col. in the U.S. military would repeat this misnomer and include it in his justification to be involved in the supreme crime of international aggression is beyond the pale.

The U.S. not only DID intervene in Rwanda, its intervention was a major contributing factor to the slaughter. Its geopolitical interests have allowed it to provide cover for one side of that conflict, that side providing most of the evidence that is used to convict the other side of genocide. The U.S.-supported side in that conflict went on to commit what would likely be labeled genocide but for the cover provided by it’s western friends who claim the exclusive right to determine when that term can and can’t be applied. Several millions killed in DRC, many more than in any of those cases mentioned by Roth, yet it doesn’t rate a mention. Why is that?

But back to the intervention that DID take place in Rwanda. I’ll ignore the covert actions and the training and supplying of the Ugandan army, a faction of which labeled itself the Rwandan Patriotic Army and invaded Rwanda on 1 October 1990, less than two months after Saddam Hussein became the new Hitler for doing the same to Kuwait. So, while the U.S. was busy driving the UN to provide a legitimization for it’s desire to militarily remove the Iraqi invasion force from Kuwait, nothing much was said about an international aggression, apparently far more bloody and egregious than Hussein’s, which went on for three and a half years before the alleged Rwandan genocide occurred.

Why? Why was an international aggression against Rwanda allowed to go on for so long without a UN coalition being formed to oust it? It makes no sense at all if you look at it from Lt. Col. Roth’s apolitical, centrist, non-ideological, humanitarian point of view.

Was there genocide in Rwanda? I don’t know. However I do know that what did happen wasn’t as it has been portrayed. There certainly were several hundred thousands of people killed in a period of about three months. But what of the un-mentioned tens (or possibly hundreds) of thousands killed since the 1990 invasion? …

~ Tom Dossett

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