16 October 2002
His Excellency George W. Bush
United States of America
Greetings in Peace!
I am Kristi Ann Gaza, presently a sophomore college student taking up BA Development Studies in the University of the Philippines Manila. This letter is an appeal to your ongoing war against Iraq. As a Filipino, I am deeply concerned. I cannot help but sympathize with those innocent Iraqi people who are caught in between your conflict. I feel for them because they are becoming victims of a war which they did not ask for, let alone need. I believe that instead of a violent attack, a constructive engagement would best serve the interests of both your countries. I cannot argue with the fact that your country is one of the most influential countries in the world. And for a developing country such as ours, we are affected by anything that occurs in your country. Even in the slightest state. I am appealing to you because your strike against Iraq would affect not only their country but also others, including yours and ours.
For almost 11 years, the Iraqi civilian population has been suffering from the most draconian and prolonged economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations and supported by the US government. These sanctions have contributed to the death of over one million Iraqis. According to UNICEF and Dennis Halliday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, more than 200 people die each day in Iraq; 5,000 to 6,000 die each month. The “Smart Bombs” dropped by your country 11 years ago targeted water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, power plants, schools and hospitals. And it is a fact that a large number of Filipinos work in those industries. Not only Iraqis are suffering but our Filipinos as well. Our Filipinos who work abroad just to sustain life for their families here in our country. More innocent lives.
After the September 11th attack, many of your high ranking officials and the media asked for a military attack against Iraq similar to the ongoing US military operations in Afghanistan, even though so far there has been no evidence linking the Iraqi regime to the terrorist operations in New York and Washington. Although they argue that Saddam Hussein’s regime is a constant source of threat to global peace and security, and hence should be eliminated, the fact is that any military strike against Iraq can destabilize the whole Middle East and create more problems for the international community, including your country and ours, the Philippines. Attacking Iraq will result in more civilian deaths and casualties in a population who have already suffered a lot as the result of an 8-year bloody war with Iran (in which about half a million Iraqis died), the 1990 Gulf war (with over 100,000 casualties) and 11 years of economic sanctions (that has so far left near one million civilian deaths).
Furthermore, the war against Iraq will have an immediately destructive impact on the whole region and can potentially lead to a military standoff between Iraq’s neighbors. While the fundamentalist Iran will do anything to bring the Iraqi Shiites into power, the nightmare of having another Islamic Republic in the region will cause Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan to counter Tehran’s attempt. Also Turkey might want to take advantage of the vacuum of power and annex the oil-rich Iraqi Kurdistan, a move which will put the NATO member at verge of war with neighboring Iran (which has a sizable Kurdish population) as well as Arab countries (who can not tolerate the partition of an Arab nation).
In addition, targeting another Muslim country will portray your country as an interventionist and expansionist country and cause a new wave of anti-American and anti-Western sentiments among Arabs and Muslims. This will in turn help the Muslim extremists receive more sympathy and support from the average person in the Middle East and eventually make future attacks against your country’s interests and your regional allies quite likely. And this would further implicate our country. One, as I’ve stated earlier, we have more than a million Filipino workers in the Middle East. Continuing your strike against Iraq would displace these workers and their families. Two, you would not be helping the other countries, including ours, to develop. By doing so, these countries would have great difficulty importing oil since most of it comes from the Middle East. Three, will our country be next? There has not been any clear evidence to link Al-Qaeda with Iraq and yet you’re having a military strike against them. What more in the case of our country, wherein there have been reports that terrorist training have been taking place here? More innocent lives?
Mr. President, I am not implying that you stop your war against terrorism. I commend you for what you have started to bring peace to our sordid world. But with all due respect sir, please bear in mind the lives of those innocent people who will be affected and sacrificed with this raging war. Not all are terrorists. Did it ever cross your mind that by affecting, killing the lives of innocent people, you have become a terrorist yourself? Please, sir, do think about your actions. I am now not only pleading as a Filipino, but as an individual who cares and loves life. I know that you also do, sir.
Hoping for your most favorable response regarding this matter.
Kristi Ann Gaza
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2002