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Two years after the US-led war on Iraq, urban life in Iraq's insurgency-ridden Sunni Triangle has been paralyzed due to the hard-core military operations. . . . Only a small number of some 200,000 citizens that fled Fallujah ahead of a US massive assault have returned to the war-battered city, residing in partially opened neighborhoods and leaving other parts occupied by the American troops. . . . In thousands of refugee camps outside the town, people are still living off aids and make-shift tents have become children's classrooms. . . . "Writers depict the hardships of Fallujans and reporters cover our misfortunes, but nobody can feel the pain the kids are suffering except themselves," lamented Suad Mohamed Mustafa, headmistress of the Wathba high school for girls. . . . "Students are not supposed to miss their lessons despite the tragic events. Thus, we rented tents for them," Mustafa told Xinhuain a shabby tent used as her dean office. . . . But the children's schooling are accompanied with coldness, darkness and even diseases. . . . "When it rains, the tents could turn into a mess and diseases spread quickly," said Mustafa, "but no teacher gives a damn despite the hardship." . . . "I have difficulties in taking lessons with more than 25 students inside a tent originally designed for 10," said 12-year-old Azhar Khalil. . . . "It's like hell, but what you going to do? To idle away a whole year is no option," said the child. . . . "I have asthma and the tent would not protect us from cold. I suffocate continuously due to the bad ventilation," complained Nuha Mahmood, who is 14. . . . She recalled that her classmate Mays Hassan was sitting near the blackboard in the front row one day when a storm came and the falling board hit right on her head. She was transferred to hospital unconscious.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:18 AM
What the President Should Do - How to End the War Quickly and Honorably
by Richard Maybury
I'm often asked what Bush should have done after 9-11.
The Saudi royal family are the most powerful gangsters in the Islamic world. Bush should have said to them, give us everyone involved in the attack, plus all the evidence. The ones our courts find guilty will be executed.
In exchange, he should have said, we will reverse the foreign policy begun in the 1940s. We will sever all political and military connections throughout the Islamic world. We will become completely neutral, withdraw all our troops, and cease our meddling in Islamic affairs.
We will never again offer money, weapons or military training to killers such the Shah of Iran, the Saudi royal family, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Boris Yeltsin in Russia, or Musharraf in Pakistan. We will go home and leave you alone.
These are, incidentally, measures Washington should have taken decades ago, even in the absence of a war, on grounds of ethics alone.
Would the Saudi royal thugs have declined the offer? Would they have said to a billion Muslims, no deal, we want the US government to stay in the Mideast?
Maybe. But if they did, I think they'd all very quickly have been hanging from lampposts.
Instead, Bush immediately chose war, and now tens of thousands have been killed and wounded in a conflict that is not likely to end in our lifetimes.
War should always be the last resort, not the first. Odds are very high that eventually each of us will know one or more young men or women who will be horribly maimed or killed in this debacle.
However, the beauty of the plan Bush should have used from the beginning is, it's still available. At any time, the President can deliver that offer to the Saudi dictators.
If the offer does not work, he can always continue war, so why not give it a try? What's to lose?
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posted by Hal 8:37 AM