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Mothers and Children, Run and Hide! America is Coming to town!

by Kirsten Anderberg
Mothers and Children, Run and Hide! America is Coming to Town!
Posted by: APR on Nov 07, 2004 - 04:19 AM

Mothers and Children, Run and Hide! America is Coming to Town!

By Kirsten Anderberg
Imagine walking down the street in your town, and finding yourself in a hailstorm of pamphlets, from another country, being dropped on you from an airplane above, telling the women and children to leave town, now, as war is impending and they will be in harm's way. I can only imagine such a scene, as I have never lived in a war zone. I am from the country doing a lot of the killing abroad, but my own personal safety, as well as that of my fellow Americans, has never been directly threatened by an occupying country within my country's borders, in my lifetime. So when I hear news reports that Americans have dropped pamphlets telling women and children to flee Fallujah, I can only imagine that scene. As a mother.

I imagine that scene in the context of the stories I have read about what Vietnamese villagers went through when Americans did door to door searches in the Vietnam War, and how villagers waited in the forests around their towns, until the U.S. military had done the damage they were set on doing, then the villagers would return to try to rebuild the mess left. An unsettled fear forever permeated the village thereafter as well, and indeed, intimidation is part of the American war tactics arsenal. Often the villagers could even watch the pillaging of their town from perches afar. And I have read accounts of Vietnam Vets, accounts of remorse and regret for what they participated in, while burning villages, innocent people's homes, and conducting brutal door to door occupations. I also saw a lot of pain and suffering when America invaded Afghanistan and refugee camps became swollen with hungry, sick and cold women, children, and the elderly. Refugee camps full of the exact people America is telling to flee Fallujah right now, by pamphlet drops.

I can imagine walking down my street and picking up one of those fliers, and reading that women and children need to flee the town. In my real situation, as a single mother, with no family and coming from poverty, with no car or savings, I can only imagine rushing home to pack our belongings, in a panic. I suppose you would need to put on your best walking shoes, if you had any. And your warmest coats. Candles and matches seem like they would be good, but maybe that would be a luxury. Socks would be nice if you had any. Something to carry water in. Food that could be transported. Utensils for eating and cooking. Any medicinal compounds and supplies. Necessary tools, scissors, knives, needles, thread, rope. A comb and toothbrush? Papers, such as birth certificates and passports. Phone numbers and addresses of people in other places that maybe could help me. Herb and Plant identification booklets. Pen, paper. Plastic sheets, tarps, anything waterproof. Clothing. Any maps I had of the region. One toy for child, perhaps, if there was room. And the heaviest of all, bedding. All of this I would need to be able to carry on my back for many miles and many days. While being responsible for a child in tow as well. I feel there is great pain and suffering among the residents of Fallujah right now. Mothers are going through packing their things, just as I have described, to make way for the Americans.

The way the mainstream news is talking about the invasion of Fallujah, is as if it is a town full of toys, or robots, as in Toy Story, that can just be wound up and pointed in a new direction and there they will go! Leaving all their possessions, buildings, and town behind to be destroyed. I cannot believe the cold manner in which the American news announcers on TV tell us that the U.S. Military is dropping fliers on Fallujah telling the women and children to leave. Can you IMAGINE if such a thing happened in Seattle? I can, and I am not liking what I am *feeling*. I can FEEL those mothers frantically trying to pack their belongings now, wondering what will happen to them, wondering if they will come home to burned houses and bombed buildings and infrastructure. I FEEL this because I have read the memoirs of Vietnam Vets who will *never* forget what they saw and what they were ordered to do in that war. Who forever are haunted by feelings of inhumanity after burning Vietnamese villages, as the villagers sat terrified in the woods nearby, watching, and waiting for the "liberators" to leave so they could go try to rebuild their villages and lives.

I recently read a book about the Vietnam War which had a section on door to door searches and village invasions. The brutality involved in door to door searches is inherent and frightening. Often the invading military personnel do not speak the language of the people whose homes they want to invade and pillage. The invading soldiers often are unfamiliar and disrespectful of cultural differences, as well. Additionally, there is a frantic panic from the soldiers' adrenaline (and guilt), and if we are going to keep troops there against their will, after they were to be released from their tour of duty, who will they take that anger out on? The people who live in the country they are invading, of course. And when one's buddy is killed in action, while he is on extended tour duty, in the Vietnam War or in this Iraq War, it is often the tendency of the soldiers to want to take revenge on all Vietnamese, or all Iraqis, due to racism, for the death of their buddy. Indeed, some American soldiers, and many American citizens, seem to think *any* Iraqis deserve to die for what *they* did to America on 9/11, even though the connection between Iraq and 9/11 has yet to be proven! I have heard Americans say over and over that we should just "nuke them," meaning all of Iraq! I remember these same people saying the same thing about Iran in the 1970's.

When American soldiers invade a city or town, there is a frantic panic from villagers who cannot understand what the soldiers want or why they are destroying their villages. Additionally, American soldiers traditionally do not know how to differentiate the enemy guerillas from every day citizens in the foreign countries they invade. So, basically, they shoot anyone who runs! On the Jim Lehrer News Hour on Nov. 5, 2004, I was saddened to hear this exact subject broached by several military officials. When Mr. Lehrer asked these military officials how the troops would be able to differentiate who is an enemy combatant and who is an ordinary citizen when invading Fallujah, the answer from the officers seemed to be that everyone who is not an enemy combatant will have fled the city by then, due to American military warnings, thus we do not need to care about that. I had heard someone talking on a news show not long ago about this idea of shooting whoever runs, like we did in the Vietnam War again. So, it only adds more chaos to the villagers' trauma when they cannot understand the language of the occupying troops, at their doors, while officers shoot their neighbors dead in front of their eyes, if they try to run!

I see the same ideas we used in the Vietnam War in play now in Iraq. General Westmoreland said during the Vietnam War, that the more Viet Cong dead, the better, basically. And in the Vietnam War, the U.S. soldiers could not tell ordinary Vietnamese citizens from "the enemy," mirroring our experiences in the Middle East right now. So they shot farmers as well as guerilla fighters. This caused an outcry, so the military told soldiers only to shoot Vietnamese people "if they were running." When that system failed also, the policy often became, if they were dead and Vietnamese, they were just considered Viet Cong (or the enemy). THAT is what I expect to see in Fallujah. If we shot them dead, and they are Iraqi and in Fallujah, they were the enemy militia. Period. Or as the military officials on the Jim Lehrer News Hour intimated, if they stayed in Fallujah, they *must* have been enemy fighters, because we told everyone else to leave. The thing that I did not see the American military officials explain was where all these sick, elderly and parenting citizens of Fallujah were supposed to go! Did we bring in large transport vehicles and moving vans to help these people relocate? Of course not! So, we are just telling the poorest sector in town to *disappear* and if they don't leave, and they are killed, these women, children, and elderly will probably just be tallied as part of the enemy militia in death. Just like Vietnam.


Articles by Kirsten Anderberg can be found at www.kirstenanderberg.com
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