Recently, there have been many reports of Americans and citizens of other nations traveling to Iraq to offer themselves as “human shields” in the event of a US-led invasion of that country. I’m not quite sure from where the mentality originates that would convince a person that placing oneself in between a Joint Direct Attack Munition and its intended target will result in actually deterring the launching of said weapon. Therefore, this type of activity must be wholly symbolic.
I find it interesting that such an act of sacrifice would be undertaken for what will be, in all practical measure, the protection of Saddam Hussein’s regime. For if these “human shields” are successful and their “great” act of selflessness deters war, they will also have succeeded in prolonging the dictatorial rule of one of the most brutal tyrants of the last century. That will be quite an accomplishment. As to what this says about their stated concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people is anyone’s guess.
To an individual, these people probably support the right of civil dissent against a government’s policies as well as the struggle against government-sanctioned discrimination. What a shame that the government they’re protecting answers such displays of civil rights with deadly chemical weapons and brutal, summary punishment and execution. As to whether or not the United States government did anything substantial at the time the Kurds were gassed (they didn’t) is irrelevant. These so called “human shields” claim to care about human rights; many even go so far as to malign the United States’ human rights record simply because we have a federal death penalty. Yet, they are going over to Iraq prepared to give their lives for what will be the benefit of Saddam Hussein.
During the Civil War, a newspaper reporter asked the captain of a US Navy ship preparing to bombard Charleston, SC, how he felt about the fact that his own brother was commanding the defense batteries for the Confederate forces on shore. Hesitating for just a moment, the captain replied, “Then allow me to fire the first volley.” In the event of war in Iraq, when informed that American “human shields” are protecting an important facility, General Tommy Franks should reply, “Gentlemen, commence your bombing run.”
Scott Wacholtz is a senior majoring in Political Science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org