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ISSUE 118 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/19/2004

War all the time in Fallujah

By Megan Sutherland
Staff Writer

Friday, November 19, 2004

In his weekly radio address, President Bush, without missing a beat, maintained his usual optimism about the war in Iraq and specifically about the situation in Fallujah. He stated that forces "are taking back the city ... and restoring order for law-abiding citizens." He went on to say that "the defeat of terror in Iraq will set that nation on a course to lasting freedom, and will give hope to millions, and the Iraqi people know it."

Yet, despite Bush's insistence that Iraq is moving closer to democracy every day, the U.S. occupation looks far from over and humanitarian conditions in Fallujah leave much to be desired.

Earlier this week Al-Jazeera reported that the Iraqi Red Crescent, a humanitarian group similar to the Red Cross, was denied entrance to Fallujah to help the wounded civilians trapped in the city. The volunteers sought to bring medical supplies and food to civilians still into the city. They were, however, informed by army officials that they would be unable to cross the bridge over the Euphrates River because it was unsafe to do so.

Of course it's not safe. It's not a big surprise that Fallujah is quite dangerous. I imagine the citizens, who were unable to escape before its invasion, estimated to be as many as 100,000, would agree.

Fighting within Fallujah has been intense, and while the mainstream media tends to avoid reporting the number of civilian casualties, such "mistakes" are adding up quickly. "The battleground is horrific even for U.S. soldiers, so imagine how civilians feel," Major General Abdal-Qadir Mohan said.

A civilian within Fallujah reported: "People are drinking dirty water. Children are dying. People are eating flour because there's no proper food." Another stated that "there are more and more dead bodies on the streets, and the stench is unbearable."

Bombs and air strikes have destroyed many people's homes, and families have been forced to bury their dead in family gardens.

Even more distressing, however, is the fact that injured civilians have little access to medical attention, and many people have died from wounds which would not have been fatal had they been able to receive treatment.

Abdul-Hameed Salim, a volunteer with the Iraqi Red Crescent, observed, "Anyone who gets injured is likely to die, because there's no medicine and they can't get to doctors."

Pictures of injured children and grieving families serve as evidence that citizens of Fallujah are suffering immensely as a result of the city's invasion. This is deplorable, and once again underscores the Bush administration's lack of foresight.

If Iraqis were in danger under Saddam's regime, they are certainly in even more peril because of the U.S.-led invasion. There was at least some sense of stability under Saddam's reign, despite his tyranny.

This is precisely the reason the United States was attacked on Sept. 11 (note: not by Iraq - I actually spoke to someone the other day who still believes Iraq was behind the attacks).

Yet the principle behind the attacks remains the same: Interfering in Middle Eastern affairs and making bad situations worse by trying to fix them in an arrogant huff doesn't win you any friends.

It seems likely that the generation which grows out of this war will also resent the United States, and I can't really blame them. They will have lived through the horror of seeing their loved ones die and their homes and communities destroyed by bombs, air strikes and gunfire.

People don't generally look kindly upon those who destroy their cities, and won't allow aide to reach them, while guarding the oil fields as they swear their mission is for the people's benefit.

Staff writer Megan Sutherland is a junior from The Woodlands, Texas. She majors in English and history.

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