[Vision2020] God Willing

Sunil Ramalingam sunilramalingam at hotmail.com
Mon Sep 10 21:04:00 PDT 2007

I read her post that her family was moving, and then there was nothing, for 
months.  After reading this post I googled 'Riverbend,' and there was a new 
post, describing the trip to Syria, dated Sept. 1.  So, unless the whole 
thing is an elaborate hoax, the family made it out safely.


>From: "Tom Hansen" <thansen at moscow.com>
>To: "Moscow Vision 2020" <vision2020 at moscow.com>
>Subject: [Vision2020] God Willing
>Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2007 19:39:47 -0700
> >From the "Calm Before the Sand" milblog, a site maintained by SPC Milo
>Freeman (on duty in Iraq) and his wife Anne (currently living and working 
>SPC Freeman's home station in Germany), at:
>By SPC Milo Freeman
>I don't know how to feel.
>"Riverbend," an Iraqi woman whose blog I have read since the start of the
>war, years before I joined the Army even, is gone. She is now a refugee in
>Syria, having chosen to flee her home in Baghdad like millions of others.
>She can no longer accept the way things are in her homeland, regardless of
>what we try to tell ourselves. No matter what we say about the good we're
>doing over here, this woman's testimony is a seething incrimination of all
>the ways in which we have failed her.
>I'm confused. I should be happy for this woman--I've read and enjoyed her
>work for so long, and I've worried for her safety when the posts dwindled
>and eventually almost stopped. I prayed--as much as someone like me is
>capable of praying--that things would improve for her sake. I should be
>happy that, at long last, she and her family have found safety outside of
>Iraq, at a time when our ally Jordan and even our own government are 
>Iraqi refugees asylum by the truckload.. I should be happy that at last, 
>can fall asleep next to her husband and not fear raids from either Shiite
>death-squads or even my fellow soldiers.
>And, all I feel is a profound sadness.
>Why is this?
>Should I not congratulate her? Should I not be happy for her children, who
>now need no longer fear the mortars that even now disturb my sleep? Why do 
>feel only sorrow at what should be a small moment of relief for one 
>in this conflict?
>But then I remember: this is our fault. This is my fault. This woman--funny
>and passionate and possessed of better English skills than most of my 
>soldiers--had to leave her home behind because WE--with our "war on terror"
>and our goddamned criminal lack of empathy for any country not white enough
>or Christian enough for our sensitive tastes--WE caused this. We uprooted
>this woman's life, killed her relatives, tore her family asunder. WE made 
>so that she, a secular Sunni, could no longer leave her home without 
>a hijab and being accompanied by at least one male relative, for fear of
>being targeted for her failure to practice "good Islam."
>Don't tell me that the terrorists did this. They may have been the bullet,
>but we were the powder. Regardless of whatever horrors they have committed,
>the ultimate blame rests with us. The death, the starvation, the crumbling
>infrastructure. Our leaders knew the risks--going as far back as the 1990s.
>Our leaders persuaded the public. Our leaders have convinced us, time and
>time again, to just "give it six more months." We're the ones who went in,
>ignorant of the culture and history of another people, and destroyed it.
>Like SHEEP, we have gone where they wanted us to go, even if it leads to 
>So don't tell me that the terrorists did this.
>We appointed every Interior Ministry death-squad assassin.
>We provided every unaccounted-for weapon and round.
>We pulled every trigger.
>We launched every bomb.
>We shot every child.
>For a long time, I justified to myself that, by contributing to this war
>effort, by maintaining the force infrastructure so necessary to our cause, 
>might have been able to help good people such as Riverbend. I told myself
>that, more than anyone else in my own country, I might be doing my small
>part to help keep her safe. And now she's gone. She's left. So now what am 
>fighting for?
>River, be safe. I hope that now you will be able to pick up the peaces of
>your life. I pray that one day you will return, and perhaps even forgive 
>Seeya round town, Moscow.
>Tom Hansen
>Moscow, Idaho
>"Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the 
>and steady dedication of a lifetime."
>--Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.
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