A friend of mine wrote this in response to an email going around about why we are in Iraq…

There is an e-mail going around in which a man explains to his son why we are in Iraq. He makes a parallel with a man knowing that his neighbor is beating his wife and not doing anything to stop it. The abuser eventually kills his wife and later comes to kill the man himself and his family and, at this point, the father says the abuser is too strong to be beaten, although why this is the case is not explained. The message concludes by the father saying to his son this is why we are in Iraq. Since the original piece used the metaphor of the battered wife, I would like to follow what has actually happened in Iraq, continuing that metaphor.

Yes, it is a terrible situation in the neighbor’s house. The man has heard the neighbor’s wife’s cries for years. For some reason, he now decides to do something about it. Perhaps this is a good thing for the woman?

Knowing that the abuser is a terrible person who cannot be reasoned with, the neighbor decides he must use force. He gets a couple friends and they train their machine guns on the man’s house and shoot for an extended period. The abuser somehow figured out what was coming and actually hid in his private study in the basement where he has a stash of food and cable TV. He locked the door so his family could not disturb him. Things did not go so well upstairs. The wife was hit in the leg and is now wounded. Three of her seven children were killed in the attack and, of the four remaining, two are wounded. She is too afraid to go for help and so she and the children are huddled in one room, terrified.

Since the man is now in one place and separated, the neighbor and his friends do go in and take him. (They do not pause at the room of the woman and living children, and they leave the bodies of the dead children.) They lock the abuser up in the cellar of the neighbors’ house while they figure out what to do with him.

In the meantime, the abuser’s brothers have heard about what happened and they show up in his yard with their own weapons. The neighbor and his friends continue to fight the brothers for the next several days. Sometimes their shots hit the house, breaking the glass. One even started a fire. The violence led to the death of one more child, and the wounding of another. One shot hit a water pipe going into the house. The abused wife, who is now free of her abusive husband, has lost four children, has two who are wounded, and another who is terrified. She now has no water. The groceries are running out. The cold wind is coming in the broken window. The man is calling for more of his friends to come and help him and the brothers are calling for their cousins to come and fight. The people who were being defended are hungry, grieving and dying.

What are we doing to our neighbor?

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Back to the real situation… On November 11, 2004, ) I sat beside an Iraqi woman who was so upset about the danger her family and community are in that she was unable to speak. They have all had to flee. I asked her a few days ago if anyone there is happy the US is there. At first they had hope, she said, but not now. Now it is just terrible.

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