One of the great benefits of being an RD who speaks at conferences around the world is making friends all over. Usually my IM boxes open at any given time include at least someone from two or three different continents. While we all agree on development strategies and methodologies, we don’t always agree on politics. Friends can have a spirited discussion on sensitive topics and disagree-but remain friends. Here is an exchange between Boston RD Patrick Hynds, one of the smartest RD on the planet, myself (not so smart) and our friend in Egypt Mahmoud A. Gomaa.
Mahmound sent us a chilling graphic of a dead or injured Iraqi civilian. Below is our exchange.
From: Mahmoud A. Gomaa
Sent: Thursday, November 18, 2004 2:06 AM
To: Stephen Forte; Hynds, Patrick
this photo attached, is for an Iraqi civilian, killed while he was carrying his daughter, running from the wild attack of American troops in their compain againest terrorism!!!!!!!!!!!.
wondering where it is
Patrick writes back very eloquently:
From: Hynds, Patrick
Sent: Thursday, November 18, 2004 9:37 AM
To: Mahmoud@ieee.org; Stephen Forte
Subject: RE: Falluja
No one likes the consequences of war, unless they are insane. I regret what is happening in Iraq and what is happening in places torn by war without US involvement.
I am of Irish decent and I view what is happening in Iraq as very similar to what happened for decades in Northern Ireland. The British came in under circumstances that they thought were correct and hoped to only stay for a short duration. The actions of the Catholic terrorists of the IRA (yes I am catholic and yes they were terrorists) kept the British troops there for most of the century. Many civilians were killed by actions on both sides, but most often I blamed the IRA insurgents (my own people). Luckily that mess is mostly over. Now Iraqi fighters get to decide if they want to keep American troops for a century or not. There is not enough oil in Iraq to pay for our being there for another 10 years. If we took all the oil Iraq produces for 10 years without paying a dollar it would not pay for the American costs of the war up to this point.
I have fought a war as an infantry soldier. I still feel horrible guilt for the soldiers I have killed knowing full well that they would have killed me had I acted less swiftly. I have seen our military prosecute offenses (and our troops are only human so they do occur) more rigorously than any other military in the world. I hate to see this kind of thing, but I honestly blame the insurgents for the vast majority of the death of the innocents. I also have seen for myself the atrocities committed by Saddam while I was in the first gulf war.
The attacks on New York and Washington in 2001 have changed many goals and perspectives of the US government and of most of its people. When the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor they awoke a sleeping giant. Bin Laden has done it again and the consequences have and will continue to be long reaching. I understand that much of the world (Arab and non-Arab) are upset by US tinkering in the middle east especially support for Israel and the first Gulf War. I have no illusions that there is a single country in the world that would not be forcing their will around the world if they had the ability to do so.
I don't blame all Egyptians, Jordanians or Saudis for the attacks on the World Trade Center. I don't blame all Iraqis for the deaths of my friends and classmates who are serving in the US military in Iraq. I don't expect to be blamed for every crime committed by a US soldier, especially when he will be put on trial and imprisoned if found guilty.
Lastly, while the picture you sent is very powerful and dramatically sad and you can by association conclude that they died as a result of the US invasion of Iraq, there is really no way to conclude that an American actually killed them.
I didn't send you a link to the story about the terrorists in Iraq who just killed Margaret Hassan. Margaret was an Irish woman married to an Iraqi man who by all accounts did more for the people of Iraq in the last 20 years then a thousand of these insurgents are likely to do. I realize that frustration in the rest of the world especially Egypt and other neighbors of Iraq is very high. I actually don't mind this kind of conversation so long as you don't take offense to my having a response and likely a different world view.
I hope my response does not chill our relationship as I have felt that over the last year, we have had a good camaraderie as fellow developers.
Patrick J. Hynds
Microsoft Regional Director, MCSE+I, MCSD, MCDBA, MCP+Site Builder, MCSA, MCT