How Would You Like To Be?

How would you like to be an Iraqi watching the Democratic National Convention on your satelite feed and see everyone of significance saying the invasion of your country was a mistake and we shouldn’t have done it and we should now remove George Bush this November because of it? Then think for a moment about this Iraqi, Iraqi Army Lt. Col. Ahmed Lutfi Ahmed Raheem, whose life changed on April 9, 2003 on a bridge in Baghdad.

“April 9, 2003,” Ahmed said. “I don’t forget this day.”
“I was on my way home to Baghdad after my brigadier boss had told me the war was over and to go home,” Ahmed said, describing his last moments as a major in the old Iraqi Army air defense unit he had been with for nine years. “He said it was an order,” he added.

“So I walked home from our station in Al Hillah, south of Baghdad, but I didn’t change my clothes,” Ahmed said, “And I came to a Marine checkpoint on a bridge in Baghdad. And I still had my uniform on and the Marine sergeant stopped me …”

“‘Where are you going?’ he asked me,” Ahmed said in his accented but surprisingly good English. “And I tell him, ‘I am a major in the Iraqi Army and I was ordered to go to my house’” Ahmed said, finishing the backdrop to a life-defining moment he had not seen coming; and on what was supposed to be just a long 50-plus mile walk home to his wife and five children.

The encounter would prove to be a pivotal one for the military veteran because for the next two anxious minutes, Ahmed went through what must be emotions impossible to describe to someone who has never known he was about to die. It was more the result of the 33-year-old’s lifetime of experience with the ways of Saddam Hussein. Ahmed, though, was actually two minutes away from a rebirth of sorts.

“He looked at me for a while and I thought he was going to kill me,” Ahmed said. “But he didn’t kill me,” he added.

“Instead he came to the position of attention and saluted me as an officer,” Ahmed said, “And said, ‘Sir you can go.’”

“I took a few steps and began to cry,” he said, “Because I think, ‘Why do I fight these people for ten years?

“This moment changed me from the inside,” Ahmed said. “What he did was kill me without pistol. He killed the old major in the Iraqi Army who fought America from 1993 to 2003.

By U.S. Army Sgt. Jared Zabaldo
Office of Security Transition, Public Affairs
Hat tip to Pith and Vinegar

Then think about the Iraqis who heard the fairwell address of Paul Bremer. This excerpt is taken from Iraq The Model blog.

The speech was impressive and you could hear the sound of a needle if one had dropped it at that time. The most sensational moment was the end of the speech when Mr. Bremer used a famous Arab emotional poem. The poem was for a famous Arab poet who said it while leaving Baghdad. Al-Jazeera had put an interpreter who tried to translate even the Arabic poem which Mr. Bremer was telling in a fair Arabic! “Let this damned interpreter shut up. We want to hear what the man is saying” One of my colloquies shouted. The scene was very touching that the guy sitting next to me (who used to sympathize with Muqtada) said “He’s going to make me cry!”

Then he finished his speech by saying in Arabic,”A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq”! (Long live Iraq, Long live Iraq, long live Iraq).

I was deeply moved by this great man’s words but I couldn’t prevent myself from watching the effect of his words on my friends who some of them were anti-Americans and some were skeptic, although some of them have always shared my optimism. I found that they were touched even more deeply than I was. I turned to one friend who was a committed She’at and who distrusted America all the way. He looked as if he was bewitched, and I asked him, “So, what do you think of this man? Do you still consider him an invader?” My friend smiled, still touched and said, “Absolutely not! He brought tears to my eyes. God bless him.”

Another friend approached me. This one was not religious but he was one of the conspiracy theory believers. He put his hands on my shoulders and said smiling, “I must admit that I’m beginning to believe in what you’ve been telling us for months and I’m beginning to have faith in America. I never thought that they will hand us sovereignty in time. These people have shown that they keep their promises.”

Yes, it was all a mistake say the Democrats, it was all a mistake.

  3 comments for “How Would You Like To Be?

  1. August 8, 2004 at 5:29 am

    I just read this today. What a story.

  2. August 8, 2004 at 11:16 am

    Yes, and there many more such stories in Iraq, but they don’t appear to foster the agenda of most of the media so they go virtually unreported, except for the blogasphere. Believe you me, the Internet is beginning to change everything.

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