Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
President, International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education,
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus
Alabama A&M University

There has probably been no other nation in history that has used with such frequency the word “insurgents” as often as the United States. What does this word mean? Dictionaries tend to describe the word “insurgent” as one who rises in opposition to lawful civil or political authority, one who is rebellious. The New Webster Dictionary of the English Language tells us that an insurgent differs from a rebel in holding less pronounced position of antagonism, and may or may not develop into a rebel.

Analysis of Distorted Concept

Most American government officials, above all the US President and his entire administration, view an insurgent as synonymous to rebel. Nowadays, the word “insurgents” is constantly being used to describe thousands of Iraqis who oppose the United States’ military occupation of Iraq. Such protestors are automatically branded as insurgents and they are viewed to be very dangerous, even though this may not necessarily be the case.

The American people are told that such insurgents are obviously jealous of the American way of life, of the democracy and freedom the US people enjoy.  Americans are also injected with the belief that the ultimate goal of the insurgents is to destroy the United States and that we should destroy them before they have the opportunity to destroy us, as top government officials have expressed on a number of instances. One of the basic problems of the American people lies in the fact that they live in a culture of war society.

As the Romans used to say, aliud est theoria, aliud est practica – one thing is theory, another thing is practice. In fact, a careful analysis of speeches given by several American public officials reveals that, in essence, the United States views as an insurgent in Iraq anyone that opposes its belligerent policies. In order for us to understand the nature of insurgents in Iraq in particular we have to understand the nature of Iraqi opposition to the presence of American troops there. Such an understanding is of paramount importance.

Let us get to the source of the so called problem of insurgency in Iraq. In invading Iraq, the United States went against the Geneva Convention, which states that no country can invade another country without provocation. It did so against the will of the United Nations, against the admonition of respectable religious people such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Pope John Paul II. In addition, it did so against the warning of leading world statesmen of the caliber of Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, along with others.

Exposition of False Assumptions

This invasion was done under the pretext of bringing democracy and freedom to the Iraqi people! Instead, the Iraqis witnessed the brutal destruction of the infrastructure of their nation. Many of their houses along with schools, hospitals and religious places were destroyed almost over night. Hundreds of thousands lost their lives, leaving tens of thousands of children orphans or maimed. Ironically, over the past couple of years there has been a hot debate in the United States about illegal immigrants.

Most of these immigrants come from Mexico, a neighboring country, to seek for menial work with very small wages. These illegal aliens entered the United States with the intention to do anything they can that is positive and constructive and beneficial to the American people. By way of contrast, American soldiers entered Iraq likewise illegally without seeking approval of the legitimate government, without any visa and passport, same way as Mexicans do when they enter the United States.

And to turn an insult into an injury, these Americans went to Iraq not to do anything positive and constructive in any way whatsoever. On the contrary, in anything they did, in more than four years of occupation, they virtually destroyed an entire nation, left over 650,000 innocent Iraqis dead, in addition to tens of thousands maimed for life. Over two million Iraqis fled the country and now they are refugees with no home, besides being deprived from vital necessities of life.

Those that managed to survive so far, learned to resent the presence of American troops who are viewed on the whole not as friends or benefactors but more as enemies. This brought a natural feeling of animosity and despair among quite a few millions of Iraqis. They disapprove of the innocent killing of their tens of thousands of dear relatives and friends. They feel they lost everything they had to live for and the only avenue left for them is to demonstrate the way they know best: their opposition and resentment to the presence of Americans.

How can Americans be viewed by Iraqis as “liberators” from the so called “tyranny” of Saddam Hussein when they took the initiative to destroy the infrastructure of their nation and to kill in tens of thousands their most beloved ones? These consisted of the brutal massacre of parents and now thousands of children are orphans as a result and of the brutal killing of numerous innocent Iraqis that included women, the elderly and the sick. Many Iraqis that have survived the horrible holocaust that was inflicted on them by Americans have now lost the will to live.

Massacre of Innocent Lives

Besides, tens of thousands of young Iraqis that lost mercilessly their beloved ones feel now they have a sacrosanct obligation to avenge their death by killing Americans by way of retaliation. Of course, the moment anyone of such Iraqis retaliates by killing Americans, they are quickly labeled by the US government as insurgents! While the list of Americans that lost their lives in Iraq is now over 3,500, the list of innocent Iraqis that lost their lives now exceeds 650,000. What a disproportion!

The American invasion of Iraq may be viewed as one of the most unjustified wars that ever took place in history. Here we had a group of 19 young men that destroyed two buildings in New York killing 3,000 people. This was certainly an outrageous act that brought the condemnation of the entire world. Shortly afterwards the US government proceeded to wage a war against Iraq under a number of assumptions all of which proved to be false! And we know the rest of the story.

As a result, more than 3,000 additional Americans were killed, not to mention the fact that more than 23,000 Americans were wounded and maimed with arms or legs amputated. The US government found it justifiable to retaliate against somebody, in this case Iraq, to avenge the death of 3,000 innocent Americans. Is it not in accordance with sound common sense for the Iraqis to find it justifiable to retaliate against those who destroyed their homes and killed well over half million of their relatives and friends?

What is ironic and incomprehensive seems to be this. The US government views the Americans who destroyed the infrastructure of the Iraqi nation and who killed and maimed some three quarters of a million of innocent people there as heroes. At the same time, the same US government views Iraqis who want to avenge the brutal massacre of their dear ones as insurgents! On this point, US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who is third in line in succession for the US presidency, had something important to say on C-Span on June 22, 2007.

After referring to the Iraqi war as a tragic mistake, she deplored the needless death of the 3,500 young Americans as a result. She also stated that she deplored in no lesser way “the unfortunate death of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis” adding saying that “these are also children of the same God.” Nancy Pelosi has been vocal among other members of the US government in viewing the Iraqi people more humanely, the way they really are: a suffering people. What is ironic as far as the US government goes lies here.

American Mockery of Democracy

While the US administrative branch of the government continues to speak of bringing “democracy and freedom to Iraq,” not even one of them dares to ask the Iraqis how they feel relative to their present problems. Some time ago, the Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, was asked on television a simple question: Do you favor a referendum in Iraq to let the Iraqi people tell us as to whether or not they would prefer the Americans to remain there?  The answer was quick with a qualitative and emphatic “no!” Apparently, this Senator does not seem to be aware that in real democracy the people have always the last say.

If the US administrative branch, headed by the US President, continues to believe strongly that all those who oppose openly the presence of American troops in Iraq are insurgents, then the US policy that is being adopted there needs to be seriously re-examined. If these so called insurgents are mostly being stimulated to view Americans as their enemy because of the destruction of their homes and the massacre of their relatives, then the continued destruction of the infrastructure of cities and the killing of more Iraqis should be brought to an end.

The more US troops are sent to Iraq, the more the Iraqis will witness the destruction of their nation and the obliteration of their lives. This will continue to instigate more and more opposition to the presence of Americans in Iraq. When young children were asked by some humanitarian organizations what was their goal in life, the answer was quick: “Killing Americans because they have destroyed our homes and killed our father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends.”

Ascetical writers tell us that we should always be in search of the truth because, they say, the truth shall set us free.  This means we have an obligation to investigate the real source of insurgency in Iraq. Is it coming mostly from the so called Al-Qaeda, or is it mostly instigated by the brutal actions of Americans? Some of the US presidential candidates, like Denis Kucinich, believe that the Iraqi mess could be lessened by bringing all American troops out of Iraq right now. Many Americans are beginning to realize that political problems should never be solved through the military but rather through healthy dialogues.