After that awful video a couple months back of the US soldiers teasing the kid with the bottle of water, I wondered how widespread this kind of behavior is and what impact it has on the people of Iraq and the war overall, if any – and if the average resident sees our presence as benevolent or imperialist – or somewhere in between. I figured the best way to find out would be to ask a couple of people who live there and live with the madness on a daily basis – without the luxury of reading a sanitized newspaper version as they sip their lattes in Scottsdale (he says, doing so.) So, I interviewed an Iraqi woman, Faiza Al-Araji, about the conditions in Iraq and the impact of our daily operations. Faiza Al-Araji made a good subject because she is a civil engineer, she is a Shia married to a Sunni, and she and her sons have been writing about the war occasionally.
AC: A few years ago, what was your impression of the average American?
Faiza: The positive side of this war on Iraq [is that it] revealed the reality of America. We thought in the past that ALL American people are superior, intelligent, and well civilized. Now, after the war, we saw that theory was wrong. They are just normal people like any other nation, but the distinguished thing is that they have the worst leaders ever on the earth. If I [were] an American citizen, it [would] embarrass me.
AC: How has this opinion changed as a result of the American invasion?
Faiza: After the invasion of my country, I saw face to face with my people, the actions on [the] ground of Americans, soldiers, politicians, security men, and others involved in our country. But when I visited America, I saw peaceful and nice people, not like the ones [I’ve seen] in Iraq or Washington DC.
AC: Do your friends and colleagues share this point of view?
Faiza: Yes … I talk frankly about this issue always in front of my relatives and friends. They agree with me, usually.
AC: Do you blame American leadership for America’s military actions or do you blame the American people?
Faiza: As I used to say it’s [the mentality of capitalism and greed] … these caused the disasters in the world now, like war against Iraq or Afghanistan.
AC: What are your interactions with American troops like? Are they generally hostile or friendly? How does this impact your opinion of America as a nation?
Faiza: Most of the time they are hostile. I know [it] may be the whole atmosphere is pushing them to act like that, but what do you expect from [someone holding a gun?] Is he going to be romantic?
AC: True. Did you see the video of the American troops teasing the child with water?
Faiza: Yes, I saw the video, it shows how arrogant they are, treating people with this stupid mentality.
AC: Have you seen similar behaviors by American troops?
Faiza: Yes… when they shot the civilian car drivers when they came [too close] to a convoy, and the video of British soldiers beating Iraqi kids. All these actions create hatred in the hearts of Iraqis and push them either to fight them, or ask them to leave NOW, not tomorrow.
Food for thought.
Thanks Faiza – as I said to you personally, I’m hoping for your and your family’s happiness and safety through the mess you’ve been forced to endure.