This week’s Time had a huge feature on a man about to commit a suicide bombing against the Americans. This was a young man who was opposed to Saddam’s rule, but turned on the Americans after American troops fired on a demonstration and killed some people.

In his words, he hopes that the Americans would go home. However, he says the Americans just keep staying and staying.

Three things stand out to me:

1. 90% of all people who commit suicide have some form of mental illness. In Marwan’s case, from the story, he experienced an extreme case of emotional trauma (witnessing the deaths of people he demonstrated with), triggering intense emotional pain and the consequent loss of hope, as evidenced by his statement that the Americans keep "staying and staying."

The primary reasons suicide bombers operate is due to economic reasons. Unemployment is around 50% in Iraq, and it is as high as 70% in some places. Marwan was not originally a fanatic. He even supported the American invasion initially because of his dislike of Saddam. But he became disillusioned — all because of the incompetence of the American forces in killing at least 100,000 people according to the Lancet study.

The Bush administration fails to understand that it is people like Marwan whom we need to win over. We have not even provided good basic health services, given the fact that malnutrition is so high in post-Saddam Iraq, let alone mental health services. So where do these people turn? Why to Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other such groups. They are frequently the only people who express any kind of love or show any kind of interest in people traumatized by the American killing and torture of Iraqi people. They do it for a reason — to exploit them for their purposes.

2. Buried in the article is an admission by him that he wants to know and understand Americans. This goes how terrible a job we have done in relating to Iraqis as people. We can’t train the Iraqi government forces after at least one year of trying. Our soldiers frighten people on a regular basis. We have become reviled throughout the Muslim world thanks to our torture of innocent people. In many cases, we have made absolutely no effort. And then we act surprised when the Iraqi "soldiers" sell their weapons while on patrol, run from the slightest signs of trouble, or sing songs to Saddam while the American soldiers are not around.

3. He did not start out a fanatic. But he became one because of the hopelessness that he felt over the indefinite occupation and resulting economic hardships, which show no signs of ending yet.


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Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter: We are already at war with Iran.

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Massive antiwar demonstration planned for Washington DC on September 24th.

US troops shoot, kill high school teacher in Iraq on way to work.

New poll results: 24% of Americans believe insurgency is in last throes; only 22% believe insurgency is getting weaker.

World Tribunal for Iraq activities picked up by Associated Press.

Former Iraqi PM contradicts administration assertions that Syria is not doing enough to stop insurgents.

Downing Street Minutes events springing up all over US.

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