Saturday, May 21, 2005

Dahr Jamail On Coming Home - And Going Back

by Dahr Jamail - It isn't an accident that, after 11 weeks, only as I'm leaving again, do I find myself able to write about what it was like to come home -- back to the United States after my latest several month stint in Iraq.

At least in these weeks, I've begun to understand what war veterans who have seen the bodies -- as I have -- get to deal with on returning home. Now that I've had a little time to get my head on straight, to process some of the atrocities I saw, and to take a little breath, I find myself, against my better judgment and everything I swore I wouldn't do, heading back to the Middle East; back to chronicle more of what's happening there.

I keep wondering how long it can go on; how long so many people in my home country will continue to ignore it, to be complicit, whether they know it or not, in our brutal occupation -- so long after it was proven beyond a shadow of a shadow of a doubt that this war was illegal and based on nothing but lies. I can't help wondering as well how long they will be complicit as their tax dollars continue to be spent on a war machine that is eating their children and loved ones, along with innocent Iraqis; complicit as social programs and benefits, civil rights and liberties are stripped from them -- a little more with each passing day.

Even a debate among anti-war groups about whether the United States should withdraw immediately or propose a phased withdrawal on a timetable was capable of sending me off the rails. All I could think was: Silly debate. As though either view of how 'we' should proceed mattered, as though their opinions carry the slightest weight with the no-timetable Bush administration.

I kept wondering why the streets here weren't filled with people every single day…


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