• Operation Iraqi Freedom Watch

    August 15, 2012

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Iraq

    Free Iraqi Child(Note to America: Please think about this before starting another war in the Middle East. Thank you.)

    In the almost two years since I left Iraq, and left behind the stories in my book, sadly little has happened that challenges the thesis in We Meant Well, that we failed in the reconstruction of Iraq and through that failure, lost the war. The last US troops gratefully departed Iraq in 2011. The cost of the war is thus calculable, finite in its grimness, hard to look at like staring into that desert sun: 4484 Americans dead, over 100,000 Iraqis dead, tens of thousands wounded, thousands without limbs, thousands more whose minds were destroyed by what they saw and did as surely as any IED would shred their flesh.

    The Iraq we created with our war is a mean place, unsafe and unstable. Life goes on there, as it does, surely, but a careful reading of the international news shows the ongoing angry symphony of suicide bombers and targeted killings continues, just continues.

    Oh, but it was worth it (we got rid of an evil dictator, Iraq is free, oil, whatever). Proof that that is wrong: Iraqi maternity hospitals are seeing a new born trend: children given “neutral” names that don’t reveal their family’s religious or political affiliations. Because in Iraq, having the wrong name in the wrong place can still get you killed. The office at the entrance to the Salam Hospital in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul is full of people. This is the office where births are registered and it’s located next to the delivery and operating rooms, near the main entrance. A male clerk there is doing his routine work: he receives forms on which new born babies’ times of birth, sex, fathers and intended names are written. And this clerk has noticed a significant trend: parents are giving their newborns names that don’t give away which sect of Islam their family belongs to, Shiite or Sunni Muslim. They’re calling their children names that are either neutral – so it’s impossible to say whether the child’s family is Shiite or Sunni – or they’re being christened with totally new monikers that have no such history, the clerk says.

    “The people are using these new names to protect the next generation from a civil war,” a local writer says. “Many murders have been motivated by sectarian motives and, according to police records, a lot of people died because their names revealed their sectarian allegiances.”

    There remains our legacy, and while the US public may have changed the channel to a more exciting show in Syria or Iran, the Iraqis are held in amber.

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