Written June 14, 2004
On this page I shall try to work out reasons, so as to better communicate to others (people in government, friends who don't understand why I feel the way I do) the bleak despair I feel when faced with the present U.S. Government and the world situation.
This page is personal, and I would not advise reading it unless you yourself are confused and upset by what is happening in the world.....
Perhaps later the page will become more organized, but right now I am just ranting and venting! (I started the page because I want to write letters to the government, yet I am so emotionally upset that I cannot compose my thoughts in a way that will convince anyone!)
I am the editor of this website, a 56 year old woman who lives in Apache Junction, Arizona. In the last ten years I have come to love Middle Eastern music, and from there have been led to read many books on the culture and politics, buy movies, buy CD's of some of the greats, I'm also attempting to learn the language..
As did anyone else around my age, I came up during the Vietnam Era, grew up in Berkeley, California, and was out in the streets demonstrating against it. People in Apache Junction, Arizona, tend to think that the reason the Vietnam war failed was because "we weren't allowed to fight it like we should have been allowed to fight it".
Heck, even Barry Goldwater decided in the end that the Vietnam War had been a mistake.
I am so alienated living in this area, my only allies are my daughter and younger son, one co-worker.....and a few other people whom I could count on one hand.
I have many friends in the community of women in this area who love to study Middle Eastern Dance...yet I also feel alienated among them when it comes to political matters, because they do not seem to share my understanding of the world situation. Sometimes I think of them as the "CD's and sequins" crowd!
Ray Charles just died, and the TV has been playing his rendition of America the Beautiful. Not a song I ever paid much attention to, (not a person who warms patriotic) I find myself singing the song in the car as I drive to town through the Arizona heat, (I have no air-conditioning that works in my '83 Suburban) and weeping. America the Beautiful, the present government has dragged you and your name down in the filth.
Already so upset about the war in Iraq---hearing about the Abu Graib horrors have made me go into a black cloud of despair, almost go off the deep end. I work at a school, and we were so busy at the end of term that I didn't have time to think it out or wholly take it in. Then summer came, and I am an emotional wreck. We went on a camping trip the day summer started, and I would look at the beautiful forest and see bombs right behind the trees....
Shame, shame, I feel sick with shame at the turn my country's policies have taken.
Lately, I cannot stand the shoot-em-up shows that my husband watches on TV, the network news, even the chatter of advertisements makes me shudder.
This introduction was written June 14th, 2004. The rest of the page contains topics around which I shall attempt to organize my thoughts, so troubled by these troubled times. The topics are not in any particular order, just written about as they came to mind. These are my personal views, I'm not saying they should be your views.
I hope this page will do two things: (1) be a psychological self-help (2) (More importantly, help me to persuade others of the danger that the present U.S. policies are putting this nation in.
I believe that the core of the reason I have reacted so much is that I feel that I recognize with sinking familiarity the types of attitudes which lead people to be able to do such horrible mistreatment of prisoners, such as the evil deeds which occured at the Abu Graib prison.
I see these attitudes around me often here in Apache Junction, Arizona. I don't mean the actual cruelty, I mean the casually uttered attitudes which might lead a person, if they were put in a certain situation, and under a great deal of stress, to more easily commit atrocities.
I see these attitudes among my husband's friends, among some of the co-workers at the school where I work. Not everyone, but I'd say a sizable fraction of people here are basically ethnocentric, having no understanding of other cultures, having a smug sense of superiority. The whole mind-frame of many (not all!!) people in the military and some (not all!) in the police force, the boy scouts, the Little League for children's baseball, in jokes circulated via e-mail, comments made after 9-11, and so on.
August 4: Today on NPR the investigation of Lindey England, the woman who was in those horrific pictures taken in Abu Graib. The man who interviewed her the night he received the pictures, before she had time to talk to any legal advisor, said that what she said was "they were just joking around" and they "didn't think it was a big deal". Chilling. But neither did Russ Limbaugh think it was a big deal, he equated it to fraternity hazing, in a very blasee tone of voice.
That part of the prison was headed by one Charles Grainer, a man who had had experience as a guard in U.S. prisons. The military apparently thought that this previous experience would make him better to handle these prisoners, who were regarded as the serious offenders. Ms. England is carrying Grainer's child.
You may think that I'm a bleeding-heart liberal and that's why I'm upset. You may feel as one viewer called in to the Diane Rhem show, responding to a woman lawyer who felt as I do, "Boy are you naive."
Why do people think that responding with force is the only way to stop terrorism. Terrorism is caused by hate, and the more awful things we do we increase that hate, increase the chance of terrorism, increase the likelihood that similar things will be done to our boys and girls when they become prisoners, as will inevitably happen to some of them.
On NPR in June, it was reported that a group of twenty or so former officials in the state department and military (including a former joint chief of staff) sent a letter deploring the direction in which this country is going. This issue is called "the revolt of the professionals" by some news people. Losing our allies, feeling like we were strong enough to "go it alone", etc. were some of the points made.
Senator Robert Byrd, a fifty-year veteran of the U.S. Senate, has written a book called "Losing America" which deplores the policies of what Byrd describes as a "brash and arrogant" administration. Senator Byrd feels that Bush has sidestepped the constitution.
Former cabinet member Zbignew Breginski has written a book in which he describes the present policies as leading to the downfall of the U.S. role as a world power.
When I hear the fundamentalist Christians supporting Bush due to his stance on abortion and gay rights, I honor their opinions on these issues (though I do not agree myself). But I feel like saying, "How far will you go to follow someone whose religious ideas are the same as yours?"
"Will you follow him while 900 American kids die? (and an estimated ten thousand Iraqis)? Will you follow him into a split between us and our allies for many years. Will you continue to follow him into a war that was based on a false pretext, and rather than winning us loyalty among those we were supposedly trying to help, has caused increasing hatred toward us in the Arab world. Will you follow him while he supports Sharon in policies that Europe and the UN have denounced?"
The mainstream U.S. News routinely reports attacks on Israel in detail, yet fails to mention the attacks that the Israeli government carries out.
I heard an interview with a man who wrote a book called "The Road to Geneva". He is an Israeli who had secret meetings with a Palestinian who was one of the Oslo accord negotiators. Together they forged an agreement, which without any government participation, has since been approved by several European governments.
It is impossible to know what to do with this heartbreaking topic. But here are a few thoughts.
1)If settlements had been halted completely seven years ago, I feel strongly that the entire situation would have been different.
2)Israel should take down the wall, and pull back from the increasingly violent road it has been taking. Have not the terrorist attacks against Israel been increasing due to Sharon's more violent policies of recent years, rather than decreasing?.
3)I feel strongly that Israel should publicly acknowledge the fact that they did wrong in making all of those people move off their land. The U.S. government should withhold some of that huge amount of foreign aid which is given to Israel every year, until they do make a public apology. This apology would at least give these people the mental comfort of knowing that they have received a small measure of justice.
4)There should also be some monetary compensation made to the Arabs (both Muslim and Christian Arabs) who lost their land.
I feel that all of the above would make Israel safer, rather than the reverse.
---being anti-Sharon should not be equated to being anti-Israel
---being anti-Bush should not be equated to being anti-United States
I would like to say to George W. Bush, "It's easy to be unwaveringly in favor of a war if you never even went over to fight in one".
It does not show intelligence to stay on the same road if its the wrong road. To quote Bertrand Russel, philosopher, mathematician and writer, "The whole problem of the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."
Written August 12th, 2004, this letter is being sent by the editor of this website to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, General Colin Powell, National Security Council ( Executive Office of the President, International Economic Affairs) the Director of State Department Policy Planning Staff, the Global Affairs committee, the State Department of Political Affairs, and President George W. Bush
I urgently plead with you to withdraw U.S. troops from the area near the shrine of Imam Ali, the most sacred and beloved shrine of Shi'a Islam. Any damage, whether authorized by the new Iraqi government or not, and whether it is carried out by Iraqi troops or not, will bring the furious wrath of future generations of Shi'a and Sunni Muslims down on our descendants.
The only way that the U.S. can escape this terrible consequence is to be hundreds of miles away from the area.
The present course of action risks creating fertile ground for the growth of a whole new generation of angry, radicalized Shi'a militants who will cause as much pain to the general population of Iraq as they will to the U.S.
Even if the troops doing the damage are Iraqi, they will be seen as acting under the auspices of the United States government.
Don't take this chance. The present U.S. government has no right to take an action which has even the most remote chance of accidental damage to the shrine of Ali, given the dire consequences which that accident could cause.
I don't know what else to say. The very actions which the present U.S. adminstration believes will "fix the situation for once and for all" are the same actions which will cause that same situation to become worse and worse.
Please consider the risks of the present action in Najaf. Don't create a new martyr who will inflame yet another generation of suicide bombers. Don't take a chance of military action near one of the most holy sites in Islam.
There are many reasons why the effort is failing in Iraq. Basically the
problem there is a political problem, demanding not a military solution
but a strategic one. The Bush administration tried to bring democracy
to a part of the world which is very far away and which they did not
There was a scandalous lack of anticipation that anything was going
wrong, a groupthink which allowed the administration to charge
forward, full of enthusiasm, their predictions based on the fact that
they see the world through the point-of-view of their own culture,
without consulting advisers who had in-depth knowledge of the area. All
of their decisions were made on a perception of reality which just
wasn't there. They anticipated that they would get out of there easily
after decipating the Republican guard.
The Bush administration did not anticipate the power vacuum which
occured, the chasm when the former police and army infrastructure was
removed. this power vaccuum was filled by insurgents.
One of the great costs of this war is that we did really have
the moral high ground. How can the world take us seriously when we get
on a soapbox about Iran's refusal to pledge not to make nuclear
weapons. We have nuclear weapons; we have invaded a
country that was not attacking us; we have killed 30,000 of its
If you believe in Democracy, you believe in the intelligence of the
general public. We pushed for elections in Palestine, yet when the
general public chose someone we did not agree with, we punished them by
withdrawing aid. This after aiding and supporting Israel as she
squeezed the Palestinians into such a small area, and that area
criss-crossed by Israeli held settlements and roads, sucking up the
valuable water and making it impossible for a viable economy to
The anger felt throughout the Middle East because of our support for Israel is a key to understanding the entire area. And just as nightly TV coverage of Vietnam caused anger at that war to rise in the U.S., the nightly portrayals of suffering caused by the American presence in Iraq and the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank (and for so many years, Gaza) have fueled a growing anger which inflames the Arab countries like an inflamed infection, shared by all the people, and the pain of it will not go away.
The Iraq occupation, rather than promoting democracy and peace in the Middle East, has been a huge recruiting tool for the radical fundamentalists.
Ms. Condoleezza Rice,
Secretary of State
United States of America
Dear Ms. Rice,
I don't understand how the U.S. can demand that Iran not have nuclear enrichment. No, I don't mean Iran should have nuclear enrichment; I mean that the U.S. has lost the moral high ground to ask this of any nation.
Remember, we just invaded a country and killed 30,000 of its people. We got Saddam Hussein out of power, but we have replaced his tyranny with a different but no less horrible kind of tyranny, whatever nice names you put on it.
Please let the U.N handle this one. The Bush administrations policies have actually made terrorism stronger, by making recruiting easier for the terrorist cells, by inflaming hatred against us.
Just as nightly coverage of the Vietnam War caused sentiment in the U.S. to rise against that war, the nightly portrayals on Arab TV, of suffering caused by the American occupation of Iraq and by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza have fueled the anger in the Arab world, which burns like an inflamed infection shared by almost all of the Arab people, an infection which will not go away.
And you guys think the problem is Arab TV! The problem is the policies themselves. Both the U.S. and Israel call themselves democracies, yet more and more undemocratic practices are creeping into the modus operandi of both nations.
How can we deny aid to the Palestinians when we've recently killed 30,000 Iraqis? Violence is violence, whether caused by military policies or terrorist organizations.
And please don't send me an expensive booklet explaining policies I disagree with. I wrote many government officials in the spring of 2003, warning them that an invasion of Iraq would turn out to be a disaster. I received all these expensive booklets paid for with taxpayer money, explaining why going into Iraq was the best course to take.
And who was right?
Apache Jct., Arizona
Paula J. Dobransky
Global Affairs, State Department
2201 C St. NW #7250
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Ms. Dobransky,
I am writing to express my disapproval of the present administration's decision to deny aid to the Palestinian government.
If you believe in democracy, you believe in the intelligence of the general public. the Bush administration pushed for
elections in Gaza, yet when the general public chose someone whom we did not agree with, we punished them by withdrawing
If we are going to deny aid to those who espouse violence, we should deny aid to Israel also. For though Israel does not
publicly endorse violence, the Israeli military commits violence in practice. Many of its targets end up being civilians.
And though the U.S. does not espouse violence, we have surely practiced it also: invading and attacking a country and killing
thirty thousand of its people. Who are we to preach to others when we hold people for years without trial.
You may think that I'm a "bleeding heart liberal", and that's why I am upset. Actually I believe that the Bush
administration's policies have made our nation less secure rather than more so. This "brash and arrogant
administration" (to quote Senator Robert Byrd) has caused us to be more hated all through the Arab world. Our actions have
been a huge recruiting tool for the radical fundamentalist cells.
We have largely lost our European allies, and the growing anger which inflames the Arab world like a festering infection. I
fear that the U.S. actions may have caused the U.S. to forever lose our position of pwer in the world.
Grace Hodges Clark
P.S. Please do not send an expensive packet explaining these policies.
This song was written during the Fallujah bombings, as I was driving
home from the weekly Women in Black vigil, and, spurred by the
frustration at waking up each morning and hearing of more pain and
suffering inflicted by my country, I exclaimed, "If there could just be
one night when no one in the world was suffering!" which led to the
I have sung it publicly three times, once at a Women in Black circle on the night of the Mariposas, once at a peace gathering sponsored by the Anti-Recruitment group in Phoenix, and once at the Renaissance Festival Talent Show in 2005.
Lest I be misunderstood: Of course I would want more than one
night of peace for the entire world. The painful irony is that there
cannot even be one night of peace.
If there could be just one night
All over the world no bombs falling
And nobody trembling with fright
And nobody hungry
And nobody cold
If there could be just one day
When no child looks down at his mama
Lying so still and so strange
When only that morning
He held his arms out to her
If there could be just one night without war
One night without missiles exploding
And nobody pressed to the floor
Afraid to look up
Afraid to go out
If there could be just one day
That no child says to her daddy
Why do they treat us that way
Why do they spit on us
Why don't they like us Dad?
If there could be just one night
That children all had beds to sleep in
And all of them tucked in tight
With a kiss on the cheek
From someone they love
I'd like to believe in peace
For all eternity
Or peace in our time
For all of mankind
But the powerful say might makes right
And they all think God is on their side
Why must there be
And not one night of peace
This letter was sent by the editor on July 28, 2006 to all of the people listed at the bottom of the page.
For the last half month, the news from the Israel/Hezbollah and Israel/Hamas conflicts has been heartbreaking. I am
despondent and angry at the daily developments, and as a citizen I feel it is my duty to write and express my outrage at
the course of U.S. policy in this situation. The actions taken by the "Bush team" demonstrate to me that they do not have
an understanding of the Arab world. I fear that their actions wil ultimately strengthen the terrorist groups' power rather
than curb or end it. I feel it is important to look at the past history in the area, including the U.S. involvement in it, if we are
to understand what is happening in the hearts and minds of the people. An increase in humanitarian aid, diplomatic
relations with all parties involved, and an international peacekeeping force to monitor a cease-fire are more likely to help
the situation than the present U.S. course of continuing to support Israel's state-sponsored campaign of terror.
Though the heartbreaking pain and suffering has been occuring on both sides, the injuries and casualties have been
disproportionally dealt to the Lebanese side. As of July 24, 40 Israelis had been killed, and 360 Lebanese had been
killed. Tens of thousands have had to flee their homes, and Unicef has estimated that there have been one hundred
Lebanese children killed since the conflict started. U.N. official Jan England has said, "Civilians should not be a target as
they have so blatantly been in Lebanon." He describes what Israel is doing as a violation of international law, citing
massive destruction of civilian areas, and he has called for an immediate cease-fire. damage has been done to the
Lebanese state as a whole; the Lebanese government and infrastructure has been permanently weakened.
The U.S. government seems to feel that this violence is less criminal because it is carried out by official military rather
than a terrorist group such as Hezbollah. To me, the fact that such attacks are carried out by a state government makes
them all the more horrible. As a U.S. taxpayer, it revolts me that my taxes contributed to the weapons which are causing
so much suffering.
Bush's recent remark (the one he obviously did not intend to be heard!), in which he said that Syria is the main reason
for Hezbollah's strength, demonstrates an over-simplistic view of the situation. True, there is ample evidence that major
financial support for Hezbollayh comes from Iran, and that Syria is facilitating the movement of weapons. But it is
important that we not overlook the main reasons that the militant groups can draw in so many willing fighters and have so
much local support in their area:
(1) a fierce, growing anger in most of the Arab world at U.S. and Israeli policies, and a growing admiration of Hezbollah
for standing up to these policies (public opinion was divided at first, but is moving toward support of Hezbollah as civilian
suffering in Lebanon worsens
(2) gratitude for Hezbollah's social programs which have provided help for the local people when the Lebanese government was not able to
This anger has been present in the Arab world for many decades. But in the years since Clinton left office, it has
increased many times over. The lack of involvement by the US in working for a Middle East peace process, continued
U.S. support of Israel in spite of ill-treatment of Palestineans and continued building of settlements in the occupied
territories (50% increase in illegal settlements after the Oslo accords were signed, huge imbalance in the living
standards, roads, water rights between the "settlers" and the local population) imprisonment of suspects without trial,
hours and hours at checkpoints, assassinations by the military, and Israel's exclusive control of the holy Dome of the
Rock were some of the causes of this anger.
In recent years this anger has been exacerbated further by the U.S. war in Iraq, the withdrawal of aid from Gaza, and
most recently by the attacks on southern Lebanon. Even Malaki, "Our man in Iraq" has said that if he speaks publicly
against Hezbollah he will lose needed support from Iraqis.
The most depressing thought is that all these attacks and injuries in south Lebanon may likely not cause the desired
effect, that of weakening Hezbollah. Every injury and eath of civilians leaves anger and resentment that actually
strengthens Hezbollah's ability to recruit. Hezbollah is deeply rooted in Lebanese society and cannot be defeated by
military means. In southern Lebanon, Israel may find itself embroiled in the same kind of mess that the U.S. has found
itself in, in Iraq.
Iran is trying to portray itself as a major player in the Middle East. U.S. refusal to deal with Iran and Syria will make
diplomatic solution impossible. Also the fact that Syria is denied the opportunity to be a world player through diplomatic
means is a factor in its choice to aid Hezbollah (this opinion was given by a former U.S. ambassador to Syria on a recent
Diane Rehm discussion radio program on NPR).
When the U.S. continues support of Israel while refusing to deal with groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and the
governments of Iran and Syria, it should consider this: although the Israeli government does not espouse violence
officially, the Israeli military in reality practices illegal violence regularly. In the book, "Breaking Ranks" which consists
of interviews with Israeli officers who have refused to continue to serve in the occupied territories, there are many
accounts of violent practices which were allowed and encouraged by the Israeli military on a regular basis. When a
civilian death occured, the report was written so that the soldier would not be legally responsible. Lethal beatings during
interrogations, shots into crowds which resulted in casualties, un-needed burning of orchards and random destruction of
homes were described. Also upsetting to read about was the common practice of humiliating and terrorizing the general
population for no reason (a "search" these soldiers reported, commonly involved storming into a dwelling, yelling orders,
and herding the family and children roughly at gunpoint; cry children grandparents terrorized). And the ironic fact is that
these kinds of policies actually weaken Israel's power over these people rather than strengthen it.
It is my opinion that the U.S. needs to withdraw some of its monetary support for Israel in the face of incontrovertible
evidence that Israeli polices have gone outside the international rules of civil society. Of course, the present
administration may not have the moral authority to do this, due to allegations of unlawful treatment of U.S. detainees.
The Bush administration has played a game of "brinkmanship" in the Middle East. They have gambled on making grand
changes, radical changes, and the result is that the area has been destabilized, and we are having do deal with radical
changes on the other side also. this administration's actions have had the opposite result of what was hoped for.
What can be done to help the immediate situation? The answer, I believe, is to turn to those same policies which would
have stopped this disaster from happening in the first place.
1) Equalize the resources given to "both sides". True, U.S. aid to Egypt is high, second in amount only to what the U.S.
gives to Israel. But the Arab populations around Israel are heartbreakingly poor compared to Israel. To be stable, Gaza
needs help. Besides, what kind of democracy is it if the U.S. government says, "Have a vote and elect your leader
democratically, but if we don't like who you pick we will take away the money that keeps you going".
2) Talks which involve all interested parties: Europe, U.S., the Arab countries including Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and the
3) A U.N. peacekeeping force, such as was called for by Kofi Anan on July 17th. Unfortunately this force cannot include
the U.S. as we have lost our credibility and "moral authority" in the area
4) The U.S. needs to withdraw some of its monetary support from Israel unless Israel is will ing to make some changes in
those practices which violate human decency. There are changes which could be made which would not lower Israeli
safety and yet would, if demanded by the U.S. in exchange for continuing the same level of aid, go along way towards
helping Arab attitudes toward the U.S. (An example would be if they evacuated most of the West Bank settlements and
let the Palestineans travel on the main roads of the West Bank.)
5) Returning to international control of the Dome of the Rock would make a huge difference to the Arab world. Many U.S.
citizens do not realize how important this is. It is as holy a site to Muslims as is the Kaaba in Mecca.
Thank you for reading this long letter. If you doubt whether I, one citizen, have an opinion worth reading, consider the
fact that I wrote twenty-plus letters to various government officals in the spring of of 2003, predicting that to invade Iraq
would result in a disaster. So many deaths and so much suffering later, I wish I had been proved wrong.
House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee
H204 CAP Washington DC 20514
(chair: Rep. Nancy Pelosi)
2201 C St. NW
Washington DC 20520
2201 C St. NW #7250
Washington DC 20520
(Paula J. Dobransky, Under Secretary---This committee advises the government on international issues)
Office of Strategic Communication and Global Outreach
Kobe Cooper, Active Senior Director
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Bldg. Washington DC 20502
2201 C St. NW #7240
Washington DC 20520
(R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington DC 20510
(Senator Richard G. Lugar, Chairman)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC 20510
(Dear members of the committee)
State Department Policy Planning Staff
2201 C St. NW #7311
Washington DC 20520
State Department of Political Affairs
2201 C St. NW #7240
Washington, DC 20520
(Dear staff at the State Department of Political Affairs)
(This department assists in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy)
National Security Council
Executive Office of the President
International Economic Affairs
The White House
Washington DC 20502
(Dear members of the council)
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500