A former local’s observations in Iraq
Editor’s note: Mike Humphreys, a former Vail local, was featured in Pages from the Past last week (see “Pages from the Past, 10 years ago,” at vailtrail.com, Jan. 27 edition).Humphreys wrote us this week from Baghdad, Iraq, where he reads the Vail Trail online. Humphreys, a professor of political science at Mt. San Jacinto College in California, and an American History teacher at Murrieta Valley Unified School District, is in Iraq observing the elections. He wrote to us from Sadr City, in Baghdad, where he is an anti-terrorist force protection analyst for the Halliburton company, which is under contract to the Department of Defense.Feb. 1, 2005 Baghdad — The Iraqi elections are over and I am very excited about this important time in our history, Iraqi history and the history of the world. The Iraqi people have expressed their choice for democracy and a future of peace for their children. The terrorist threats to intimidate the voters and make the streets of Baghdad run with their blood did not come to pass. I was actually surprised the terrorist attacks were so minimal. Here in my sector of Sadr City, East Baghdad, there were few casualties compared to what was expected. The polling areas were well protected and the people braved the streets to make their voices heard for the first time.I expected the election to be a success because of what I have learned about the Iraqi people, but I also expected there to be a similar event for the terrorists as the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam. The Viet Cong communists launched a coordinated attack all over Vietnam on the Chinese New Year of Tet. The Communists suffered tremendous losses but won a propaganda victory in the U.S. media. As it appeared to be the last chance for the terrorists in Iraq to accomplish the same, and with the intelligence reports I read, I fully expected a similar occurrence here in Baghdad.Our history shows the American public is very susceptible to this type of influence and the mainstream media is more than willing to participate. As it unfolded, the terrorists were held under relative control and over 10 million voters went to the polls. There were attacks and there were casualties but the casualties were very light with 44 reported deaths compared to 10 million voters. It shows the will of the people and the rejection of terrorism.The terrorists are many of the same who supported Saddam Hussein and are no longer in power. There are also Al-Queda terrorists from countries other than Iraq. Their brutal days of government through brutality and torture are over. The terrorists are now the enemies of the people of Iraq as well as the U.S. because the people have chosen democracy over an autocratic dictatorship or fanatical religious rule.I took a one year leave of absence from my job as a history teacher to participate in history as a primary source. I wanted to find out for myself what the truth is. I don’t believe the mainstream media accounts in that the media seeks to influence our society in what they choose to report and what they choose to exclude or not report. I wanted to see for myself all the history making events as they unfold. I wanted to speak to the people involved first hand. With a degree in Political Science specializing in Middle Eastern Politics, I have studied the history of the conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis, which is the source reason for Arab terrorism against us due to our support of Israel. I have participated in world events from 1972 as an enlisted Marine to 1982 as a Navy Officer to 1993 as a civilian undercover in the Middle East to recover children stolen from the U.S.I have found that a very large majority of Iraqi people are grateful for our efforts in returning their country to them in this election. The percentage turnout of voters was about double of the normal turnout of voters in the U.S. on major elections. I have personally been thanked and kissed by the people of the villages of Khandari and Naser Wa Salam near Abu Ghurayb. They have crossed streets to speak to me with the words: “Marines, good! America, good! Ali Baba, no good.” Ali Baba is the name attached to the terrorists by the local people and the name of the fabled “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.”The significance here is, now that democracy is growing in Afghanistan and Iraq, other Middle Eastern countries will want the same freedom to choose their destiny without fear of execution, persecution or exile. History has already borne out this pattern of events with the demise of the Soviet Union, its control over the Eastern Block nations and the end of the Cold War.A country where the rights of citizens are respected and protected and a capitalist economy is in place, has no interest in making war on its neighbors or destabilizing the region.In the mind of every evil leader in the world, be they in power or seeking power, the question they always ask themselves before committing an evil deed is, “What will the Americans do?” In the minds of every group of people who are the victims of the evil deeds, they, too ask a question: “Where are the Americans?”I am very proud to answer the latter, “We are here with you.”Very respectfully,Mike Humphreys
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