01/21/06 — Journalist’s ordeal becomes part of the Iraq story

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Journalist’s ordeal becomes part of the Iraq story

Those who think that the war against terrorism is going to be ended through negotiations and increased understanding between the West and the militants in the Middle East have only to look at the case of American hostage Jill Carroll.

This is a woman who went out of her way to share a rare insight into the true Arab world. She lived among Iraqis and respectfully adhered to many of their traditions. Her mission was to show the world the real Iraq and its people and to promote understanding of the nation’s strengths and culture.

She is a journalist. She was there for a job, and a noble cause really, in a profession she loved and on a mission she really believed in.

And now, her family and friends as well as millions of Americans, are being forced to watch her sit with a gun pointed to her head. Her captors are threatening to kill her if all female Iraqi prisoners in Iraq are not released.

This is the last person in the world whom militants should want to kill. She has dedicated her life to promoting understanding among people and to telling the story of Iraq with compassion and fairness.

She is not a soldier or a politician. She is not promoting Western culture.
She was there to educate her country about real life in Iraq and the people who live there.

And by the time this opinion is printed, she could very well have lost her life.

People who hate Americans and are determined to kill them and anyone else who might be associated with them are not the best candidates for peace talks.

While continuing the war in Iraq might not be the right answer, any decision that is going to be made about what to do next needs to include the realization that these are not people who see any difference between innocents and enemy combatants and who see nothing wrong with murder threats as bargaining chips.

So, we have to be very careful about pinning our hopes to negotiations and a military pullout in Iraq.

There is a real story to tell in Iraq. There are plenty of people who want freedom and to find their own way as a nation and to become part of the international community. There are also innocent Iraqis who lose their lives as they get caught in the crossfire each day.

We have promised to stay until we have the job done — and if we do or not will be an important question over the next few months. We have to think about our resources and the men and women who would have to stay to do the work, as well as the consequences should we decide to pull out our troops.

We have to determine what is left to gain or lose, depending on the decision we make.

Jill Carroll’s story is a warning sign that the understanding does not always go both ways.

It is important that we remember that as we decide whether it is time for our troops to come home and if Iraq is ready to stand on its own.

Published in Editorials on January 21, 2006 10:55 PM