March 28 VitW update

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Posted by Sadie from D006044.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Saturday, March 29, 2003 at 1:01PM :

Dear Friends,

Wednesday's New York Times ran a full color photo of an unsettling
communion. Sitting stiffly at a table was former Defense Secretary Robert
McNamara, a man for whom the word "quagmire" - a word recently
resurrected by war pundits - has a deep and unforgiving meaning.
Reaching over his left shoulder to shake his hand was current Secretary of
Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. There were smiles all around. Divorced from
its context, the picture suggests all is well.

The American writer Robert Bly wrote a poem during the Vietnam War
condemning the indifference with which American war makers - like
McNamara during the Vietnam War and Rumsfeld today - went about the
business of war. Men like these "are not men," Bly wrote, "they are bombs
waiting to be loaded in a darkened hanger."

But really the war makers in Washington are no more bombs than they are
men (or women). Unlike a bomb, the hawks in the Bush Administration will
never be any closer to the battlefield than the television or a stack of
briefings and newspaper clippings can bring them. They do not smell the
corpses rotting in the desert sun. They do not hear the explosions and the
screams. They go home each night to their loved ones, their kitchen tables
and their beds. And they probably sleep.

Meanwhile, millions of Iraqis and hundreds of thousands of soldiers thrust
deep inside a complex and far away land cannot walk away from the war
each night at dinner time.

We didn't hear from our people in Baghdad today. We hope the lapse in
communication is temporary. But we know that the fighting drags on in Iraq
and the bombs continue to fall and explode and kill.

More than 50 civilians were killed today when bombs fell on a market in
Baghdad's Shula neighborhood. Earlier an exploding bomb fell so close to
the Palestine hotel - which houses most of the foreign journalists reporting
from Baghdad - that the entire building shook violently. The Palestine is just
across a narrow road from two of the three IPT hotels.

Still, as IPT member Martin Edwards wrote earlier this week, "there does not
seem much cause for alarm. The bombing has been increasing gradually
since the first strikes several days ago, around 5:30 am. We have set up a
system of 2 hour watches from 10 pm to 6 am so at least some of us (those,
like me, who can relax and sleep through almost anything, particularly if we
can relax because we know the individual(s) on watch, will wake us if we
need to take further action to protect ourselves) can catch a few ours of
much valued sleep. Our biggest danger, at present, is from random pieces
of shrapnel falling on the neighborhood from anti-aircraft shells exploding
periodically overhead. But many of us, instead of sensibly seeking cover,
are out under the stars, watching the fiery spectacle unfold around and
above us.

"The most amazing aspect of this is that as we walk the streets of the
neighborhood, in groups of two to ten, even during periods when American
bombs are falling in the distance, with American led forces advancing on
their city, the local residents continue a pattern of heartfelt/heart-melting
friendliness and hospitality toward us."

Though we have not connected with IPT today, we know they are out seeing
what they can see and preparing reports and reflections to send back
home. But IPT member Neville Watson from Australia reminds us:

"It must not be thought ... that the Peace Team is simply about on-site
reporting. There are all too many of those kind of reporters around. Their
task is to report what they see so that their corporate masters can decide
what others should see. With a few exceptions they are interested only in
sound bites and superficial selective reporting. It is left to the 'little ones'
Voices in the Wilderness and the Iraq Peace Team to report it as it is. War
remains for us the prime cause of human suffering, not only in acts done but
in budgets spent. The initial cost of waging this war was set yesterday at 74
billion dollars and this is the down payment. We see war as stupid. There is
nothing on this planet that does more to create human misery than war."

We will be in touch again as soon as there is any news from our people in

Thanks, as always, for all that you are doing to create a more just and
compassionate world.

All my best,

Jeff Guntzel, for Voices in the Wilderness

-- Sadie
-- signature .

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