Equivalence of Grief
By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
April 12, 2003
American Grief Iraqi Grief
“Tonight in Jerusalem, next to the Garden of Gethsemane, under cover of war, while the world is not looking, Jewish fundamentalists are moving into an armed apartment block on land which belongs to the Palestinians; in the White House, Christian fundamentalists dream of moving on to murder and mayhem in countries beyond count; and on the stony hillsides of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Muslim fundamentalists dream of moving on to murder and mayhem in countries beyond count. The trade union of international politicians exercises an ever more Stalinist grip, moving countries and armies to wars they do not want. Only the people say no.” 
Only the people say no. And the people of the world have come out as another power to reckon with. They flocked on the streets in hundreds of thousands. Students organized human chain, exhibited arts for peace. They sang country songs under the scorched southern sky. They were pelted, hand-cuffed, blasted by hot water pouring from vibrating nozzle. Pepper spray and tear gas were splayed to their eyes and nose. And rubber bullets tried to intimidate people of peace, to silence them by disproportionate force. Still they came, without fear, retaining endless passion for achieving peace in our world, refused to let another innocent child die from war’s bombardments in faraway places.
Who are the real heroes?
They are the ones. The people of the world, the other super power.
Now as the present war is approaching its end in Iraq, the real heroes have begun to suffer barrage of insults, intimidation, and mockeries from pseudo left and neo-right.
People of the world do not wish to see war. People of the war do not wish to see the meaningless devastations in the name of power and rogue pride.
Fundamentalists are teething, screeching their groomed teeth for more blood and revenge. Osama’s another notorious tape is out. Falwell’s sermon is out for gloats and inciting other wars. In the forgotten occupied territory, the never-ending saga of killings and counter-killings continue. Suicide bombers are still blowing up in hearts of Israel, and Israeli tech-muscular missiles and pointed tanks are taking aim at Palestinians in the streets.
The digested pre-emptive strike policy is taking its formalized shape around the world. India and Pakistan have already exchanged threat of attack under the banner of Bush’s first strike policy. North Korea is blatant in its own delusion of thwarting the military giant’s unstoppable onslaught by increasing production of Nuclear Weapons and threatening the entire Korean peninsula. In Iran, the democratic entities under the rules of oppressive Mullahs are put in check. It’s time to secure national security. Time to build more weapons. Time to accelerate the apocalypse in the name of endless preventive wars. The old sleeping giant Russia is reportedly in great discomfort as well. The frustrated generals of past Soviet empire have begun to nurture unshakable thoughts of gaining back previous prestige they lost in the demise of old cold war. China is quietly building up its fortresses. And Germany and France are pondering on a joint military brotherhood.
Were these unpredictable? What was our leaders thinking? Didn’t they know that these all were unsurprising in days aftermath of killing thousands of civilians and soldiers from a grossly televised war while showing brute power to the rest of the world, throwing them clear warning sign in jargon-less tone who is the real boss of our world?
Unjustified wars bring more wars, more violence. Unjustified wars cause billions of people suffers around the world from direct war’s devastations or from related economic downfall.
The neo-conservatives wish to divert attention. Hence the boost up attacks on the peace activists. Anti-war folks are “thoroughly discredited and, if they happen to be Democratic presidential candidates they might as well withdraw and nurse their shame somewhere off the public stage. The debate over Gulf War II is as over as the war itself soon will be, and the anti's were defeated as thoroughly as Saddam Hussein.” These are the grimy pictures these hard-core hawks want to give to the peace folks.
Perhaps these are all part of propaganda game. They are trying to divert the arguments to other direction to cover the folly of war. The anti-war activists didn’t sing for dictator Saddam. Their concern was rooted for the plight of poor Iraqis who were already oppressed from decade old brutal economic sanction after the last Gulf war in 1991 on the top of being the subject of an autocratic regime.
Was there any doubt that overtly powerful, well-trained, well-fed, and well-supported American, British and Australian forces win the war in the end? Except the handful extremist religious groups in Arab and other parts of the world, people of the world didn’t have slightest doubt on this settled issue. There was no sympathy for Saddam and his corrupted regime. But for the poor Iraqis no lack of it was there. And aversion was clear too for brazen aggression.
“This war was not worth a child’s finger” – surely it wasn’t. Precious life of hundreds of child, ripped away, smashed and incinerated in bombing ferocity. Do they justify the war? The neo-conservatives would apply their moronic “greater good” scrap without hesitation, even they boast that they “would not loose sleep over it.” How heartless and terrifying these words can be to the victims of the war and people who have any mince of humanity left in their unsold heart?
There are thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths. Every death is painful. Someone’s son, daughter, parents, husband, wife, brother or sister get killed in war. When American media shows the grief stricken fallen soldier’s family, small child still doesn’t understand what does all these stripe and star flags means on his father’s coffin and in mama’s hand, very few people can withhold tears.
Doesn’t that similar scenario work for Iraqi soldiers and family? The thousands of fallen Iraqi soldiers have left their grieving family shocked in pain. Their son and daughter stare at comforting strangers, perhaps not in front of any rolling camera, but the unmistakable similarity of pain is there.
“You can be sure that the equivalence of grief exists” – equivalence of sufferings by the victims and their family, their longing for their departed beloveds are universal. In the battlefield, enmity and survival instincts dominate a soldier’s mind. In the end, in the solitary corner of a solemn church in working class American suburb or in a humble mosque in the middle of dusty Iraqi town or village, the heartaches, tears and staring puzzles of orphan child and grief of widows and mothers are the same regardless of their race, creed or nationality.
1. Michael Kinsley, “Unsettled: Victory in the War is not Victory in the Argument about the War”, Slate, April 10, 2003.
2. Julian Barnes, “This War was not Worth a Child’s Finger”, The Guardian, April 11, 2003.
3. David Hare, “Don’t Look for a Reason”, The Guardian, April 12, 2003.
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) is a freelance writer. His email address is: email@example.com.