March 22 update VitW

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Posted by Sadie from D006025.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 at 1:53PM :

Dear friends,

In Baghdad as I write, things are relatively quiet. Today IPT delegate
Wade Hudson had a chance to take a limited drive around Baghdad with a
driver and a government minder. After passing by the still smoking Ministry
of Foreign Affairs building, he drove to a residential neighborhood where he
reports having seen a bomb crater 8 to 12 feet deep "in the middle of a wide,
divided street. Traffic in one direction was blocked." He also reported
passing by "many small homes in the neighborhood with all of their front
windows blown out, presumably from the blast that created the crater."

A few hours ago, we spoke with Kathy Kelly at the Al Fanar hotel in downtown
Baghdad. Kathy told us that they will be going around and visiting some
hospitals tomorrow where there are apparently quite a lot of children. It is
expected that the worst is yet to come.

This grim forecast is not mitigated by Gen. Tommy Franks’ promise earlier
today of "a campaign unlike any other in history, a campaign characterized
by shock, by surprise, by flexibility, by the employment of precise munitions
on a scale never before seen, and by the application of overwhelming

We are getting unconfirmed reports of fighting in Basra, Iraq’s second
largest city. Regretfully, we have no IPT presence outside of Baghdad. We
are trying to reach friends in Basra and have had little success. Just two
very shaky connections that were terminated after less than a minute.

This war is an explosion of uncertainties. In the recently "liberated" town of
Safwan, on the Iraq-Kuwait border, a reporter for the Guardian today may
have unwittingly provided a window into the next weeks, months or years in

"Yesterday afternoon a truck drove down a side road in the Iraqi town of
Safwan, laden with rugs and furniture. Booty or precious possessions? In a
day of death, joy and looting, it was hard to know.

"[T]he marines' presence was light. They had not brought food, medicines,
or even order. All day hundreds of armoured vehicles poured through the
town. But they did not stop, and the looting continued. Every government
establishment seemed to be fair game. People covered their faces in
shame as they carried books out of a school. Tawfik Mohammed, the
headmaster, initially denied his school had been looted, then admitted it.
'This is the result of your entering,' he said. 'Whenever any army enters an
area it becomes chaos. We are cautious about the future. We are very

Exactly one month ago, also in Safwan, the Iraq Peace Team released an
open letter to members of the United States Military. The letter, read to the
press as nearly 100,000 soldiers prepared an invasion just miles away,
attempted to provide some measure of clarity in a time of hysteria:

"To U.S. soldiers and sailors: our prayer for every one of you is for a quick
return to families and loved ones without having to participate in the horrors
of war. We recognize that you have been placed in a position full of anxiety
and danger, and we share in the responsibility for you being here. We
recognize you are in this position because back home we do not truly
govern ourselves - but are instead ruled by a minority who decide questions
of war and peace in the interests of the few instead of the many. Our
inadequate democracy has led us into deadly quagmires in the past, and
now to the brink of another conflict that can only be described as a tragic war
of empire."

Today we are neck deep in a conflict millions of us worked tirelessly to stop.
Still, the protests grow. As the war-makers threaten a "campaign unlike any
other in history," let us continue to match their promise.


Jeff Guntzel, for Voices in the Wilderness

-- Sadie
-- signature .

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