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open discussion

I'll be out of the office for a bit, but I'll leave you with something to discuss.

I just received the following comment on my most recent post about Operatioin Give.

Perhaps you'd like to have a crack at this guy? Who knows, maybe you agree with him.

Have at it.

Comment by MG Lazer (and yes, all comments entered on this site are open for public discussion. It says so in the manual)

Maybe I have this whole thing (the Iraq war) wrong but shouldn't they be thanking us, not the other way around? We are the ones who fought their fight for them.

It seems a desperate attempt to show those we saved from a worthless life how truly nice and good we are even moreso beyond saving them from a tyrant and sacrificing our lives to save theirs.

And if we want to be influencing them in the right direction shouldn't we not be afraid to flood their country with lots of Western culture instead of bending over backwards to not offend their tyrnannical cult religion which is why we are there to begin with?

The West does not have to apologize to do what we want to do for our own sake.

Victory starts with honesty.



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» Iraq Discussion from SageOne's Zen Garden
For those of you who don't pay attention to a small victory, go check out this discussion regarding Iraq and our western influence on the country. It's interesting.... [Read More]


1. We do owe a moral debt to the Iraqi people for not supporting their revolution in 1991.

2. We aren't afraid of flooding their country with Western style Barbies and waterguns. But that needs to be under the control of a free market. The last thing we need is propoganda coming out of Iraq saying that U.S. soldiers are forcing children to play with morally depraved toys.

3. Fer Crissakes, it's children's toys, given and distributed by volunteers. Your tax dollars aren't paying for it, so why get your panties in a bunch?

Also water guns may prove to be dangerous in an environment where they could be mistaken for the real things.

Plus, Barbies might be considered insulting. (Heck that's why I didn't send a pug plushie in that shipment and will send a buh of soccer toys from http://www.kaskeykids.com/SoccerGuys.html as soon as I get some more money.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't understand how trying to help people equates to thanking them. That point aside...

That "tyrannical cult religion" (doesn't that describe MOST of them, though, almost by definition?) happens to be theirs, like it or not. Just because most of us don't share their faith doesn't mean we shouldn't be respectful of it. We're not missionaries, we're liberators. Liberation means they're free to practice whatever flavor of tyrannical cult religion they like -- even one that sees barbie as an evil slut. Sending them toys that they (or their parents) find offensive doesn't do anyone any good. It's a waste of your money and an insult to the recipients.

...and ditto what James said about guns being a bad idea. All the attacks have created, and rightly so, a "shoot first" mentality, in a region not unknown to use children as weapons, giving kids fake guns is an invitation for them to be shot.

I'm not sending toys because I'm trying to influence their culture. I'm sending items because there are a bunch of kids living in a country who don't have much and who have been through a war. It's not about what I want to send or what "represents" our culture, it's about what I think they might need or enjoy -- including what their parents might think are appropriate toys. There are plenty of parents in our culture who wouldn't want their kids to get Barbie dolls or GI Joes or play guns.

My items tend to fall into two camps: "active" toys like balls or little trucks and "passive" toys like stuffed animals -- something to cuddle and love. Rounded out by the practical stuff that kids generally don't want but make parents happy: toothbrushes and combs.

There's no other purpose behind my desire to send stuff than to imagine the child's smile and delight when they receive a gift. Same purpose whenever I give a gift.

If I were preparing a box of food for a hungry community or family I knew to be vegetarians, I wouldn't fill it with a bunch of steaks just because I'm not a vegetarian and think they need a little animal protein. They wouldn't eat it, and their reaction would be disappointment rather than a smile and delight.

As others have pointed out, humiliating a defeated foe is basically got us into WW II. All people have a right to determine what toys their children will be allowed to play with. You're not likely to win over many hearts and minds by being a jackass about cultural differences.

Over time, the Iraqi people will begin to see the benefits of freedom and secularism (for confirmation, just look at what's currently happening in Iran). Shoving Barbis into their faces is not going to help that process along.

I guess there are folks will always find something to complain about.

Adding to the comments from James and Pete, that we are providing any toys is a good thing, especially when they are not guns. After all, recent history is stuffed to overflowing with children missing limbs because they played with some junk they found, junk which happened to be a mine or unexploded ordnance.

They toys being sent are much more appealing than junk found on the ground, and that's a big plus in more ways than one.

Let me try to understand what you are saying. By donating to Operation Give, I have thanked the Iraqi people for letting us liberate them. Does that mean that when I donate money to help the homeless, I am therefore thanking them for being homeless or for letting me have a home? I thought I was just helping out someone who I thought needed help and who I could afford to help. Go figure.

I think he has a point. But then again, I'm the one who said they will eventually turn back to the country they once was. It's just a matter of time. It's like telling a red neck he can't watch drag racing.

If we leave a power/structure/leadership vaccuum in Iraq, they will almost certainly be worse than before we removed Saddam. If we stay long enough for freedom and liberty to take hold and do things to win their trust, I think that will prevent Iraq from turning into an Iran.

If we alienate the Iraqi people -- you know, by sending them toys they consider offensive, or giving the appearance that we're just there for the oil by giving loans instead of aid, they'll resist and it'll take much, much longer for that country to be at a point where we can leave without leaving an opening for Muslim extremists.

At the end of the day, though, Operation Give isn't about politics, terrorism, or anything of the sort -- it's about a rich nation and a rich people helping a war-torn country full of poor families.

Perhaps it's naive of me, but I sent to Operation Give for two reasons 1) because there are a lot of little kids over there right now who need some fun and cheering up, and 2) since it's soldiers distributing these toys, I'm hoping that this will help the youth of Iraq look favorably upon the U.S. military, and see them as friendly, rather than occupiers or enemies.

With regards to the particular toys sent - everyone else has already made the major point... but also, we might be sending toy balls instead of Barbies, but we're not sending over Osama dolls or Jihad Joes either. Neutrality is key.

Well, I missed Operation Give, but that's my next stop.

Um, I pretty much agree with what all of you guys said, and I'll go a step further, too:

1. I supported the war in Iraq from the beginning, and I think that what we did was right. I think that many Iraqis agree, and I think that we'll convince many more in time. However, the fact remains that however antagonistic Saddam was, and however much he really needed to be taken out of power, it is us who are "occupying" their country right now, and not the other way around. Americans especially can't understand how that feels, no matter how hard we try to, because it simply hasn't happened to us. (Obviously, the exceptions are post-war immigrants, etc.)

2. I don't think that our troops should be doing anything to "thank" Iraqis for letting us liberate them, nor should we apologize for it. Our troops have far more important things to do right now, and something like that is pretty pointless (not to mention unnecessary) anyway. But anything that improves Iraqi perceptions of Americans can't hurt.

3. If you're going to send toys to kids anyway, why not send ones that aren't offensive? That's not "thanking" Iraqis, it's just common courtesy.

4. I hardly think Barbie is the most positive example of Westernization.

5. I hope that when this person wrote "tyrannical cult religion" they were referring specifically to the crazies that are on the news. I hope this person is aware that there are quite a few Muslims out there who are not suicide bombers and don't blow up buildings. Islam is not the problem; insane people like Osama bin Laden are.

And last (finally!)... I wasn't aware that we went in to Iraq because we expected to be "thanked".

this guy is a real ass. Its people like this one that gives us all a bad name. Giving gifts to children should always be done with their parents and culture in consideration. Otherwise you are just an offending jerk.

Well, I think he's right. I think those little Iraqi bastards ought to be giving us toys. Anyone want to help me set up Operation: Give Me Your Toys?

We're sending toys to children? So they can play? We are horrible, horrible people! (yes, that is sarcasm).

We liberated Iraq from fascism because it was right and necesary.

We are giving Iraqi children toys because it is right and they need them.

This guy is a jerk of the first rank lacking
compassion or honor and representing the very worst of our culture; the materialist, arrogant,
cynic. Every society produces them. Pay them no mind at least as long as their numbers are few.

What a bizarre thing to say. Some people spend too much time coming up with things to be bothered about.

As for the worries about whether or not we are doing enough to pass on the wonders of Western culture to the Iraqis (though I would like to point out that at least Iraq is a modern, industrial nation with an infrastructure, at least around the major cities, that shows more than a little "Western" influence) that old saying holds true: you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. We are not supermen, we can't force people to change if they don't want to.

What a bizarre thing to say. Some people spend too much time coming up with things to be bothered about.

Andrea sort of stole my thunder with that one. The only thing I can add is that for some weird reason I'm reminded of the no-subsidized-school-lunches people--NOT that I want to see that discussion rehashed again--but it's the same mentality. All the trouble in the world these days, and we're supposed to seethe about lunches and toys for kids? Those are the world's most pressing problems right now? Get real!

Forgive me if I rant a bit on this one. I am on the ground in Baghdad as I write this. I've seen how some, but not many, people are pretty angry about the Coalition occupation here. These seem to be, for the most part, people that were gaining the advantages of the former regime, some of whom aren't even Iraqi.
I have also seen children. I have seen them playing in the streets. I have seen them riding their bikes along the roads. I have seen them kicking balls in the fields. I have seen them in the back seats of their parents cars, and they are almost always smiling and giving us the "thumbs-up". These kids aren't going to think of our giving them toys as a "thank you". They are going to think, "TOYS!!!! YIPPEEEEE!!", or at least the local Arabic equivalent of "yipee". Theoretically, we aren't giving the toys to adults, so I won't dwell on what they will think. As far as the gun issue goes, you have to try to think outside of the American box. Guns here, in some places, seem to be more like a source of fireworks than a weapon. There was a LOT of "celebratory fire" the day that the Hussein boys were killed in the shootout.
I wish I could upload a picture I saw in the Azzaman Arabic Daily (I think it was OCT 10 if anyone can find a copy). There were four boys, close to the ages of my own two sons, playing with mortar shells and bombs left behind at the Al Rasheed camp when the Republican Guard fled. Suddenly, a Super Soaker doesn't seem so bad after all.

In addition to the many fine comments here, I'd like to add that contributing to Operation Give is one of the best--and least expensive--investments in foreign relations we can make. Those Iraqi children that receive these gifts from our servicemen and women are going to be thrilled with their presents and associate Americans with them indefinitely. Those memories will stick for life.

Those same children will one day grow up to run Iraq's government, military, and industry, as our own children will be doing the same in this country. Planting the seeds of a healthy and friendly relationship now with the youngest generations will reap untold goodwill in the future.