Event offers alternative view of war

Jenna Staul

Students listen to guest panelists talk about the Christian Peace Maker Team.

Credit: DKS Editors

Students and community members alike nearly filled the Governance Chamber last night to hear first-hand accounts of life in Iraq in a forum sponsored by the Kent Anti-War Committee.

A veteran, a humanitarian and an activist were on hand to recount their time in Iraq and debunk common misconceptions of the war-torn nation. The event aimed to provide an alternative view of the Iraq War than what is commonly portrayed in the media, said Isaac Miller, a junior history major and Kent Anti-War Committee member who organized the event.

Speaker Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi political analyst and activist, was in Baghdad at the time of the U.S. invasion.

“There is a deliberate misunderstanding created for political reasons,” he said. “It was very intentional. It shows how the information coming out of Iraq is very controlled.”

Jarrar said many Americans have a profound misunderstanding of the differences between the Shiites and Sunnis and sectarian violence in Iraq.

“This did not exist before 2003. People didn’t say they were Sunni or Shiite,” Jarrar said. “Until now this sectarian split did not define the country’s politics.”

He also said he believes conditions will improve once United States troops withdraw from Iraq, adding that Iraq historically has regrouped after similar occupations.

“The take away point is when the United States leaves Iraq, the sky will not fall,” Jarrar said. “In fact, the conditions will get better. I believe in the rights and capabilities of the Iraqis to run their own country. They’ve done it for thousands of years.”

Patricia McCann, a former National Guardsman who served in Iraq from 2003-2004, said she is dismayed with the U.S. military after serving in Iraq, adding that atrocities like those publicized from Abu-Ghraib are commonplace.

“When photos of Abu-Ghraib came out, I’d seen those same photos two or three months before they hit the media,” McCann said. “When it turned out to be a big deal I thought what do people think war is? What do they think we’re doing over there?”

Cliff Kindy, a humanitarian worker who has been to Iraq four times, said he was changed by the time he spent in the country. He said Americans often overlook the high toll that Iraqis have paid since the invasion.

“What we (humanitarian workers) tried to do is get to know the Iraqis as friends, as humans, and that’s the best protection you have over there,” Kindy said. “If you approach them in Abram tanks you are going to be targeted.”

Lexi Yoder, sophomore anthropology major, said she felt the forum expanded her perception of the war.

“I really thought it was a great thing,” Yoder said. “I really enjoyed Raed and his explanation of the Iraqi government. I thought I gained a lot from it.”

The high turnout for the event surprised Isaac Miller, junior history major and Kent-Anti War Committee member, who organized the event.

“It’s not going to end any other way,” Miller said. “They won’t end this until we show that we’re angry. And going to Kent State means people will pay attention to us.”

Kindy said he feels the solution to ending the Iraq war is rather simple.

“Get out,” Kindy said. “Provide compensation. And most of all listen to the stories that are coming out of that country (from soldiers). Hearing their stories is a part of their own healing.”

Contact student politics reporter Jenna Staul at [email protected].