Wednesday, June 13, 2007

OPEN LETTER: An American's Apology to the People of Iraq

THE LEAST YOU NEED TO KNOW: "Too many of us did far less than we could have to avert disaster."

Citizens of Iraq: I'm an American, and I have something to tell you that is long overdue. It does not come easily. Many people in my country would berate me for saying it, call me a coward, think me morally weak, or even worse –  betraying the soldiers who fight on behalf of my freedom. But I do not believe any of that. I believe the those who fear saying what they believe are the true cowards, and are not free at all.

People of Iraq, I would like to tell you I am sorry.

I am sorry for the unjust suffering that my government has inflicted upon you in my name.

I am sorry that at the conclusion of our first war with Iraq when Saddam invaded Kuwait, our former President encouraged you to rise up, promising you our support, and when you did, we let you be killed by the thousands while we did nothing but watch.

I am sorry for a new war that was sold to America with outright lies, half-truths, and omissions of fact. I am sorry that most of us believed them, allowing ourselves to be frightened beyond reason by tales of secret Iraqi weapons, though many truly knowledgeable people knew better. The "yellow-cake" uranium from Africa. The aluminum centrifuges. The mobile poison gas facilities. The "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud."

I am sorry we allowed those who questioned our government's assertions to be bullied into silence, sidelined, punished, or black-listed as un-American, including those of reason within our Congress, our military, and the news media we trusted to objectively inform us and protect our best interests.

I regret a fabricated coalition that was formed to invade your country. Fourty-nine countries, many of whom were present in name only to satisfy American demands. This so-called "coalition" cheapened the true coalitions of history that were created to fight for just and noble causes.

I regret that our soldiers were ordered to leave a worthy cause in Afghanistan to turn it's attentions upon your country, though I trust few of you were sorry to see Saddam ousted. Our soldiers are by-and-large good people with spirit and character. They sacrifice everything to protect their country. The deserve better than they have received, yet they still try to do what is decent and honorable.

I apologize that during the siege of your capital, the short-sightedness of our military planners – so focused on your oil – forgot to protect you and your national treasures from criminals, the mob, and fanatic warlords.

I am sorry that while years were spent planning the invasion of your country, only weeks were spent considering how to deal with what came after. I am sorry we put people in charge that had no credentials other than being ideologically aligned with our President and his staff.

I am deeply sorry that in our rush to oust the tyrant who brutalized your country, we did not study your history, which would have easily foretold the civil unrest and retribution killing which plague you now. Some did foresee this, though again, those voices were silenced or ignored. Without this insight, we allowed your communities to fall into chaos, causing many of you to flee homes your families have owned for generations and see loved ones murdered without cause.

I regret the thousands of people sent to Abu Ghraib to be tortured and humiliated. Torture has been proven time and again to not produce reliable information, though it often works well on American television. I fear our current leaders did not know the difference.

More over, I am deeply sorry that in this rush to war, we took our eyes off the true threats that we all share, and somehow must learn to face together.

Apologies can be hard to come by in uncertain times. They are particularly scarce from this American government.

People of Iraq, America is a nation of good people. We will spill our blood at a moment's notice for a worthy cause, even for people we have never met. 3,500 American soldiers have died, and 20,000 have been wounded for a cause they believe worthy. More innocent Iraqis have died and than can be reliably counted. But our government has betrayed us, and has betrayed you as well. I hope someday soon we will restore our government to one that is worthy of our people – and you will be able to rebuild your country free of tyranny and chaos.

Finally, and most importantly, I am so very sorry that we came to Iraq with the premise of defeating religious fanatics willing to kill for power, while not realizing we had those very same people in charge our own country.

Sincerely,
Jay

Sting playing Fragile, September 11, 2001







34 comments:

Scot Kamins said...

Well said, Jay. I'm sending this to several of my friends, extremely proud that my nephew wrote it.

Anonymous said...

did you realize this guy has chosen to not reside in the country he is do all this apologizing for. a bit hypocritical if you ask me. I checked out his blog and he's a nut job.

Anonymous said...

This is good Jay, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Jay,

Wow ... amazing ... you've really captured it. It is perhaps one of the saddest, most atrocious times we've lived through. A failure for 'democracy' ... in fact, more and more, we prove that freedom and democracy have little to do with the current state of America. Let's face it, the US is a capitalist consumerism ... and Iraq was the next thing to eat.

Although at this point it would be nice to hear a similar apology from our current administration, your personal statement of apology gets right to the point. The 'people' of our nation should start to set the precendent and start to stand up for what they believe in again.

Thanks for sharing this Jay.

Lou

Anonymous said...

Oh man, isn't it a little late in the week for political commentary? I'm looking forward to an insurgency of beer invading my stomach this weekend.

It's a good apology as apologies go, nice and long and comprehensive. Would have definitely gotten you make up sex if it was to a woman.

First off, I am against the war. (I'm also against the troops, but that's another email). But I don't owe the Iraqis an apology. They could have told us to leave when we got there. They didn't. And they're still letting us fight for them! If any thing, they owe us an apology. heh. Al Quaeda then crashed the party to ensure it never ends. That's our fault? Let's face it, if this happened in America, we'd be fighting our own fight and telling the occupying army to get the fuck out and let us handle our shit. I mean, we were attacked on our own soil ONCE and look how we reacted. We've occupied Iraq TWICE and they're like, Better you fight than us, thanks!

I appreciate your sentiment, my friend. But I didn't do any thing to the Iraqis. Bush owes them an apology. Al Quaeda owes them an apology. Saddam Hussein owed them an apology. But I'm still waiting for an apology from Bush and I haven't gotten one yet either.

If I had an apology for the Iraqis it would be: I'm sorry the middle east is abundant in fossil fuel. I'm sorry you're not fighting your own war. Nice and simple. But then, if Iraq was a woman, I wouldn't be getting make up sex :(

Anonymous said...

This is the state of our world.

Iraq never asked us to help ... we were led like idiots into the eternal & senseless violence of the Middle East.

Blame it on Globalism. Blame it on The Administration. Blame it on Terrorism. Blame it on Rio. Blame it on inexistent WMDs.

I'm against the war as well ... against the war in Iraq as well as The War on Terror. Marketing has no place in 'foreign' policy.

Drink. Go to the mall. Have a nice weekend.

Anonymous said...

This is the state of our world.

Iraq never asked us to help ... we were led like idiots into the eternal & senseless violence of the Middle East.

Blame it on Globalism. Blame it on The Administration. Blame it on Terrorism. Blame it on Rio. Blame it on inexistent WMDs.

I'm against the war as well ... against the war in Iraq as well as The War on Terror. Marketing has no place in 'foreign' policy.

Drink. Go to the mall. Have a nice weekend.

Anonymous said...

Hey dude,

You make a lot of good points. I definitely do not feel responsible directly, I didn't vote for Bush either time, but I hate to see soldiers, money and energy wasted in Iraq. The people over these have been telling us to get out since we got there, but we don't see that on the channel 6 news, you know? Al Queda did crash the party, but we started the party, and Bush lied to get it going.

We were totally attacked on our own soil, but were not fighting on our own soil, we're fighting on someone else's soil that didn't have anything to do with it. Of course, Al Queda doesn't have their own soil, which is why this isn't working. Don't get me wrong, if they did have something to do with it, I'd even volunteer to go shoot a few clips. The problem is Bush wanted to take Iraq's oil, and put some bases in there to blast Iran, which is way more deserving of getting bitch slapped than Iraq.

It'd be great to get an apology from Bush, but that won't ever come cause he's an arrogant dick!

Anonymous said...

What I have noticed from day one regarding these strange world politics is that the US is the pot calling the kettle black. From the moment we turned all 'pre-emptive' ... it set the most dangerous precendent for the world. Saddam himself made comments prior to the investigations indicating that whether he let us inspect or not the US would attack Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, obviously Bush doesn't care about the plight of the Kurds. But then neither do most Americans. But we do care about our suv's, heating our homes, or having electricity to send these emails for that matter.

Personally I'm an isolationist. If we trimmed our collective belt, we'd have plenty of natural resources to sustain ourselves. An added bonus we might solve that muslim extremist issue. But I really doubt if we just left the middle east they'd stop fighting us. And then we'd still have the activists complaining, You have to intervene for the Dar Fur refugees, or the antarctic polar bears. So then, if we have an obligation as a super power to help internationally, shouldn't we also have the right to reap the benefits?

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I wasn't sure what reponse you would get to it. Shame there have not been more group replies.
It's not as if you are living in the Mid-West, I had expected most of your friends to be left-leaning.

Jay said...

i think it's the word "apology" that hangs them up. admitting some kind of responsibility or fault, even if only being a citizen of the country, is more than ego can take
i never voted for bush, and have thought he was a joke when I heard he was running in 1999. but i think all americans should take some responsibility for allowing our country to get a black eye. england too, for that matter.

Anonymous said...

No, you live, as I do, in a democratic system. That means you have to be governed by people you didn't vote for. However, you are not directly responsible for the incompetencies of these elected representatives. It's an unfortunate part of the democractic bargain but it's the least worse system we have. Are you responsible for the fact that you have a bad social security system too?
I also agree with the sentiment that you have to be careful not to absolve the people actually carrying out the bombings. They are directly responsible for the deaths, the US is only indirectly responsible. The best analogy is blaming an (uninvited) house guest for leaving the windows open which allowed a burglar to get in.
That is not to say that America should not apologise for its flawed professed motives and its incompetence. Your administration should. You, as a member of the electorate, should push for the administration to apologise.

The problem is that, currently, in American politics, the elections held every 2/4 years are seen as the only mechanism for providing feedback to the administration. This is a flaw in current democratic policies. The administration seems unresponsive to interim public opinion.

Jay said...

Only corporate opinion is closely monitored.

Anonymous said...

Quite.

That's a systemic problem. It would be more encouraging to see political activism pushing for systemic change.

Apologies are all well and good, if required, but change nothing.

Jay said...

My apology is more regret. As a citizen of America, I feel I should be expected to take more responcibility for actions done in my name. If more Americans got off their asses and take their control back, we'd be able to fix this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree. Regret can be a useful emotion if it is motivating. But your apology is also symptomatic of the problem. It is passive. What are you actually -doing-? Democractic politics rely on involvement.

Jay said...

Agreed, though the process of gaining the information required to write it, and make sure what I wrote was accurate, is the necessary first step we all need to take to be able to make effective change.

Anonymous said...

That is true.

Jay said...

Armed with facts, not propoganda is the only way to make real decisions abotu government. Many people I talk to who voted for Bush feel horrible, but their laziness and knee jerk reactions to triggers like gay rights got them into that situation

I knew that leading off with "Apology" was controvercial enough to get folks to read and start a conversation, which is all I really wanted.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough.

The problem I usually have is that I often dislike taking simple pro- or con- positions. International affairs are often so complicated and multifaceted that, armed with all the facts, they make it hard to adopt a simple position. I am usually attracted to nuance. The danger of this is that it can lead to moral or ethically blindness, which is a problem the left often has too.

It's one of the reasons I want to study politics in fact. I want to be able to form more coherent opinions.

I can understand your frustration and regret but I think you have to appreciate the limitations of democratic politics. That is why I am wary of the electorate issuing apologies on behalf of a specific government or system. If you had actually voted for Bush then I would perhaps be more receptive.

Jay said...

I think that is totally valid. Nuance is lacking in our goverment, because nuance is lacking in our political debate.

Anonymous said...

Which then comes back to the media... which comes back to capitalism etc etc..

Jay said...

yeah, the whole this is out of whack, but I don't think it unfixable

Anonymous said...

That's the beauty of capitalism and democracy. They are both iterative, flexible, upgradeable systems.

Jay said...

that depend on an informed and engaged population

Anonymous said...

population
Not the entire population. Just people who care. Doesn't need many to effect change.

Jay said...

yes, but in an ever increasingly awake world (politically), the more educated the better

Anonymous said...

Most significant change is effected by informed people but it's not numbers that matter so much as committment.

Anonymous said...

but that's the problem, the right-wing, through homophobia and other knee jerk reactions to mobilize a small group of informed people to make change, but for the worse. we need to take personal responsibility to make sure we are informed properly.

Anonymous said...

Yes! I agree. And debate is one way to inform. But being informed is meaningless if it is not used practically.

Jamie said...

The election in 2000 was so close that, in retrospect, it would have taken only one more American to step up, volunteer, organize, and change the course of history. But too many of us did far less than we could have to avert disaster.

For that I am truly sorry.

Jay said...

Well put, Jamie. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

It's a great letter Jay but I don't beleive we mere mortal citizens have anything to apologize for. Folks like you and I who take the time to read and stay current on political topics and news of the world likely didn't put this guy and his cronies in office. Right? They couldn't sway you. Couldnt sway me. Couldn't sway most of the people I know. They could however sway the folks who tune it to Fox news for their information. Those who fear things like gay marriage and the Taliban. Or heck a gay Taliban. The Musical. They fear the crumbling of their precious religious right. Tap into the fears of the Sheeple, tack on a wedge issue, and you're guaranteed a victory. As long as we have this large mass of apathetic lazy citizens who are, willingly, marinated in media induced fear the Bushies will stay strong. So what can a politcally informed citizen who wants to make a difference do? Unfortunately the Dems are far to weak and ball-less to go up against them. It's not an ideal sitution when you have a two party system but that's a topic for another day. Could people have done more? Sure, we can always do more. But do you think the Bushies were playing fair with the election? I doubt it. I think they were going to win and they were going to execute their plan no matter what. Maybe I'm too cynical and a wee bit paranoid but I don't think there was anything anyone could have done. I know people who did all the right things. They volunteered, they campaigned, they spent countless hours waxing poetic about the injustices. All to no avail. It was a well planned, well executed take over. A hostile take over. A fascinating one at that. 51% of Americans believed the campaign enough to cat their vote his way. 51%. It's just too bad they couldn't use those powers of persuasion for good and not evil.

~ko