Iraqis are also Saddam's victims
Matthew H. Hersch '94's column advocating the mass destruction of Iraqi civilian areas was filled with numerous historical inaccuracies seemingly written by one who is quite ignorant of the present political climate in Iraq ["A kinder, gentler warfare," Feb. 22].
As an Iraqi whose relatives would be directly affected by an allied strike on a civilian neighborhood, I feel compelled to respond to his very weak justification for killing thousands, perhaps even millions, of innocent Iraqis.
One of Hersch's first points is that no dictator can lead a nation into war "by brute force and manipulation alone." Perhaps Hersch is not aware of riots which occurred in Iraq immediately after the initiation of the Iraq-Iran war and the brutal way in which Saddam quieted them.
He must not know that Najaf, a city as important to Shiah Muslims as Rome to the Catholics, was entered by government troops and all the religious leaders slain. He must be ignorant
of the fact that when protests erupted as a result, troops were ordered to enter mosques and seize any "suspicious" young men, some under the age of 15, to be tortured and ultimately killed.
Indeed if Hersch were aware of these thousands of deaths which took place at a time when Saddam was being applauded in this country for bravely confronting religious fundamentalism at home and abroad, he would not dare say that it is impossible for a people to be forced into war.
Secondly, Hersch claims that the Iraqi people "really didn't care" when the Kurds were cruelly gassed by Saddam. I assume that the evidence for this is the fact that there were not demonstrations in the streets of Baghdad.
But one must remember that the press in Iraq is government controlled, thus most people in Iraq were completely unaware that the attack had happened simply because it was never reported.
Furthermore, a substantial portion of those of us who were aware of what had transpired (i.e., those Iraqis living in the United States and other Western nations) fought very hard to impose military sanctions against Iraq for having done this.
But nobody in Congress seemed too terribly concerned and the proposed legislation failed. Who, then, Hersch, is more responsible for ignoring the Kurdish situation, the Iraqis or the Americans?
Hersch's third claim is that most Iraqis "were delighted" by the fact that Saddam called for
a holy war against the West. Considering that no reputable Muslim scholar publicly acknowledged Saddam's authority to initiate jihad, I find this quite difficult to believe.
To offer as evidence a few hundred screaming Iraqis is absurd, for if I were to put a gun to the head of Hersch, he himself might suddenly find this "jihad" to be
a wonderful idea. Saddam had spent nine years crushing the Islamic movement in Iraq, his sudden conversion was not recognized by any.
But it is Hersch's last point which is perhaps the most absurd of all, namely the belief that to achieve victory, "civilians should be scared to get within 100 feet of a soldier." And further, "wars end when people are afraid to fight anymore."
After reading this, I decided
to ascertain the definition of
the word "terrorism," and The American Heritage Dictionary defined it as "the use of intimidation to achieve an end, and the fear and subjugation produced thereby."
This seems to be exactly what Hersch seems to be advocating. He would like to see mothers scared to approach their enlisted sons, children afraid to go out on the street and play, and the sick unable to receive proper medical care.
He is advocating the murder (and I think that is a very fair word to use) of countless innocent civilians and does not have the least moral difficulty in doing so. Perhaps if America were ever to be attacked by air and if it were Hersch's relatives and not my own being threatened, his opinion on the massacre of civilians might be different.
Haider A. Hamoudi '93->