About the abuses in Iraq [Archives:2004/739/Opinion]

May 20 2004

By Jon Lee
[email protected]
For the Yemen Times

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a 31 year American citizen that has lived in the U.S. all my life and traveled very little outside my countries borders. I have never had the opportunity to travel to the Middle East, although one day I hope to. I personally find the cultures and history of the Middle East to be very interesting. I am also a Christian, and believe Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Salvation.
Please understand that I have a great amount of respect for the religion of Islam. I believe Muslims and Arabs have made wonderful contributions to the history of mankind, whether it be through literature, philosophy, academics, or your beautiful architecture. I feel you should be proud of your many accomplishments as a people.
However, the reason for my letter is to address the horrible news about the abuses of the prisoners in Iraq. Please believe me that a great many Americans are absolutely disgusted by this news and these images of our kind doing this to other human beings. Please also understand that we as a whole do not find this behaviour acceptable in any way shape or form. Most Americans support our soldiers, after all they provide us with security within our borders that is almost unmatched anywhere in the world, not absolutely perfect as 9/11 showed, but still very good.
And I also believe that most of our soldiers are good descent human beings. I truly hope that those responsible for these actions that occurred in Iraq be punished and if necessary tried as war criminals.
However I have one question in my mind. Several weeks ago, three western civilians were killed in Iraq. They were pulled from their burning vehicle, mutilated, and their body parts drug through the streets.
Should we as westerners take a view of Muslims from this scene? I think not. I think many Muslims, viewed this act as very unacceptable. My point is, please do not judge all of us “Americans” based on the actions of a few very bad individuals. Believe it or not many Americans want to see peace in your part of the world. Also understand that governments do not always reflect the people they govern, even in a democracy.
I would venture to say that a large percentage of Americans do not always agree with our governments foreign policies. But as citizens we are somewhat limited to what we can do, even in a democracy. Sure we vote for our leaders, but once in office, it is not easy to remove them. My whole point here is that yes, there are bad Americans. Yes the American government is not always right and the guiding light of the world. But there are many, many good Americans. Just as I have no doubt there are many good people in the countries of the Middle East.
Let us all pray that peace will come to your region, and all regions of the world. But we all must put ourselves above the hatred, the arrogance, the feelings of revenge, and most importantly we must try to understand one another better. Misunderstanding is a very powerful thing.
Let me thank the Yemen Times for bring a part of the world to me that I otherwise would not be exposed to, I find your paper very informative, and thought provoking. Let me also say that I welcome feedback from people, from anywhere.