Monday, May 19, 2003

I am not yet a member of the American Islamic Congress (www.aicongress.org) but I do support this excellent organization, which was founded after September 11, 2001 by Iraqi-American educator Zainab al-Suwaij to promote tolerance.

Zainab al-Suwaij participated in Iraq's 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein. She fled Iraq when that uprising fell victim to Saddam Hussein's brutal repression and the first Bush administration's indifference. Last month, thanks to the second Bush administration's resolve, and thanks to the bravery and strength and skill of the U.S., British, Australian, and Polish armed forces, the ancien regime in Iraq was removed. Iraqi freedom is now POSSIBLE, and Zainab al-Suwaij was able to return to Iraq as a participant in conferences discussing plans for a new, democratic form of government to replace the Saddam Hussein regime. But Iraqi freedom cannot be established without increased international effort. U.N. sanctions must be lifted immediately. Iraq also needs far more personnel (coalition troops and Iraqi police) to enhance security, far more money for emergency relief efforts to avert humanitarian catastrophe and save lives, and far more money for reconstruction efforts to establish the conditions needed for Iraqi prosperity.

I was happy to discover today that the American Islamic Congress may participate in efforts to rebuild Iraq. They are now looking for people with interest and expertise in rebuilding efforts, and they are accepting applications. If you would like to find out more about this, please visit the website for the American Islamic Congress.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Until about a month ago, I had never heard of an aid organization known as Mercy Corps. Around that time I did some web searching, trying to see which aid organizations were doing the best work in Iraq. In my opinion, people who donate to aid organizations should scrutinize their operations. After all, some aid organizations are more effective than others, and when you're looking at emergency relief efforts aimed at SAVING LIVES, it's NOT the thought that counts -- it's the result.

I like the fact that Mercy Corps spends 91% of its revenues on operations. That is a greater percentage than any of the other aid organizations I briefly investigated.

I also like the fact that they document the total dollar amount of donations received, with daily updates.

I also like the fact that they won the Arab-American Institute Foundation's Khalil Gibran Award for humanitarian achievement last year.

II urge you to please visit the website for Mercy Corps (www.mercycorps.org), and to please consider making an online donation. You'll be surprised how easy it is to help save somebody's life.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Sometimes events or reflection cause me to reconsider various aspects of what I have written in this weblog. I am then tempted to launch a verbal attack on my own arguments. This is pathetic, of course. I need your help. My e-mail address is arjunbamzai@yahoo.com. I would be very grateful if YOU could point out the flaws in my arguments, so that I can credit you by name for attacking me, instead of attacking myself. (If you can tell me how to add a comments section to this weblog, that would be even better!) Thanks!

Sunday, May 04, 2003

The humanitarian situation in Iraq is improving overall, but far too slowly, and the health care situation is extremely concerning.

It worries me greatly to see fewer and fewer reports about humanitarian emergency relief efforts in Iraq. I am worried that people will wrongly conclude from the paucity of such reports that such efforts have been completed, or that there is no longer any need for urgent assistance to the people of Iraq. The opposite is true. A massive and urgent augmentation of relief efforts is badly needed.

It is a matter of life and death. The speed and intensity and effectiveness of emergency relief efforts will determine whether thousands of Iraqi children live or die.

Once again, I will link to just a few of the many aid agencies participating in these emergency relief efforts.

If you are reading this weblog, you are probably unique. That is, you are very likely to be the ONLY person in the whole world who is reading this weblog. (I am assuming rather optimistically that "you" exist -- that is, that someone out there is actually reading this thing.) Therefore, you have the unique opportunity to be the ONLY person in the world making a contribution to any of the agencies listed below after being encouraged to do so by reading my weblog.

If you are so able, won't you please take advantage of this unique opportunity?




Medicins Sans Frontieres = Doctors Without Borders



Mercy Corps



UNICEF USA



International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)





Thank you for your unique contribution!

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Tom DeLay, the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the leader of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, are effectively on the same side: they both oppose the U.S.-led effort to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I hope that President Bush will succeed despite their opposition.

Right-wing extremists in the United States continue to condemn Secretary Powell and the State Department for alleged "diplomatic failures" but American diplomacy is as strong as it has ever been. The Palestinian Authority's confirmation of Mahmoud Abbas as Prime Minister is in fact a victory for American diplomacy. So is the widespread agreement on a U.S.-authored "road map" for a new Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Secretary Powell will soon travel to Syria, NOT to offer concessions (as some American right-wingers fear), but to try to persuade President Assad to end Syria's morally indefensible policy of lending support for anti-Israeli terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Saddam Hussein regime's support for Palestinian terrorism was an important obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Ending that regime ended that support and removed that obstacle. If Secretary Powell succeeds in persuading Syria to end its support for Palestinian terrorism, then another obstacle to Middle East peace will be removed, and American diplomacy will have achieved yet another victory.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Kanan Makiya is a thoughtful analyst affiliated with the Iraqi National Congress. His assessment of post-war Iraq is well worth reading.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

When critics state that the U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq will advance U.S. interests in the region, they are absolutely right. They are wrong about what those interests are.

Millions of people around the world think that the United States invaded Iraq in order to steal Iraq's oil. I admire the State Department because American diplomats have got to have a lot more patience than I do.

Others think that the United States invaded Iraq in order to encourage Israel to extend dominion over the region. Indeed, it is possible to imagine an Israeli empire, from Tehran to Tripoli. It is possible to imagine a lot of things.

The U.S. has 3 main objectives in Iraq: disarming the Saddam Hussein regime, ending the Saddam Hussein regime's support for terrorists, and liberating the Iraqi people.

All of these objectives are consistent with U.S. interests.

The first 2 objectives are essentially achieved with the demise of the Saddam Hussein regime, although important work in these areas remains to be done (tracking down ancien regime leaders, investigating the ancien regime's weapons development programs, and delineating links to terrorist syndicates). The third objective, as Peter Bienart astutely observes in the New Republic, is a long way off.

IF we succeed in liberating Iraq we will thereby encourage freedom and democracy throughout the region, and by extension, throughout the world. (This is allegedly a "neoconservative" sentiment, although I fail to see anything "conservative" about it.) Freedom and democracy might allow the peoples of the region to reclaim the richness of their cultures, and the appeal of extremism might be replaced by the appeal of excellence.

To modify something President Clinton once said, instead of telling the people of the world to "just say no" to anti-American extremism, we should give them something to say "yes" to.