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Reflections on Trip to Iraq
by SOA Watch Founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois

Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002
From: SOA Watch

As my country prepares for war with Iraq, I felt compelled to go to Iraq and meet the people we are preparing to kill. The challenge now, as I experienced in returning from Latin America, is to convey to others what our delegation saw, heard and learned.

What stands out is the warmth and goodness of the Iraqi people we met with in homes, in hospitals, on the streets, at the university — and wherever we went. And it saddened and angered me to see the poverty, suffering and death caused to such good people by the many years of sanctions.

Wherever we went, we were asked a basic question. Why does President Bush want to go to war with Iraq? Most people in Iraq believe a big reason, among others, is the vast oil reserves in Iraq that are needed in the U.S. to keep our way of life going.

While the culture, religion and history of Iraq and the Middle East are very different from Latin America, I found something they share in common - — the overwhelming presence and power of the United States.

As in Latin America, the U.S. is deeply entrenched militarily in the Middle East. And, as in Latin America, those needed resources by the U.S. in the Middle East, CANNOT be acquired without the firepower and men with guns.

My coming to Iraq has only confirmed and clarified how important it is for us to close the SOA/WHISC and change U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.

Now, as our country prepares to go to war with Iraq, we must do all we can to prevent it. Among the tens of thousands killed in Iraq will be many of the children, women and men we met and learned from on our delegation.

This morning I read Psalm 33. It reminded me that our enemy in the U.S. is not in Iraq, but ignorance. Psalm 33 says,

"Rulers are not saved by their armies. Nor can they find hope in their weapons. Despite their power, they cannot bring peace."

May our weapon be knowledge, love, justice and nonviolence.

Roy Bourgeois

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