Category Archives: Iraq


girl-60637_640ts The world erupts with rage over the brutal murders of two American journalists and a British aid worker by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants. As a result, international outrage has turned to demands for action against the jihadists. Calls for death to the monsters and demands to follow the “enemy” to the gates of hell can now be heard from politicians and pundits throughout the west. Even President Obama has declared that against ISIS, the U.S. will now go “on the offensive,” including air strikes, training of Syrian rebels, provisions of military weaponry and advisors on the ground. But there is little mention of the continued savage brutalization of women by ISIS — unnoticed and rarely mentioned.

Yes, the beheadings bring the reality home. Understandably, the gruesome deaths of innocent people captured the world’s concern. Yet, why not beam international attention to the ongoing brutalization of women by ISIS, relentlessly, day after day, hour by hour.

For months, ISIS has terrorized women in Iraq and Syria, where sexual violence is used as a weapon of war. Specifically, ISIS militants have been raping Christian Yazidi women and girls with the expressed intention of impregnating them to break their ancient Aryan bloodline. Up to 1,000 Yazidi women in Northern Iraq were recently kidnapped, tortured, held as sex slaves, and murdered by ISIS fighters. Terrified eyes peer desperately through the bars of Badush Prison near Mosul. Here, women are raped numerous times a day and young women are even forced to call their parents to detail being gang-raped by dozens of men in a span of a few hours. Some as young as 12 years old, are sold as wives to Islamist fighters for as little as $25 US dollars or given as “sabaya,”war booty — a reward for fighters.


Recently, 300,000 displaced Yazidis fled to Mount Sinjar with no water and food sustenance, battling blazing temperatures higher than 100 degrees F. Hard to hear and see, but not equal to the rest of the story. Women were stolen and “used.”
When three Yazidi sisters, who were kidnapped, repeatedly raped, but finally escaped back to their families on Mt. Sinjar, they begged to be killed and spared the dishonor that will follow them throughout their lives. When the family refused, the girls jumped from the cliffs to their deaths.

The suffering caused by the sexual violence inflicted on women and girls does not end even if they are released. In that shame-based culture, they forever carry the marks of shame, and any children borne from the rapes or forced marriages will never live freely.

Yes, the gruesome beheadings of late deserve media attention and demand action by coalition governments. But we must not wait until those of “our own” are murdered or mutilated before responding with outrage. Why do we turn our eyes away until our own citizens are impacted? We must broaden our lens to the entire human race and not simply count casualties of our own citizens, but of all humans who are suffering in these battles. Victims of other nations are seldom counted, nor are women noticed who are severely brutalized in the war process.

They are not “collateral damage.” They are human beings.

In his prime-time speech on September 10 and since, Obama vows to “degrade, and ultimately, destroy” ISIS “wherever they exist.” Obama’s response to ISIS includes increased airstrikes, sending nearly 500 U.S military advisors to the region, and training Syrian Rebels and Iraqi Security Forces. But nowhere does a plan include provisions for directly rescuing or helping the Yazidi women who have been sexually brutalized by ISIS militants. We need to be clear with our government and the United Nations that these women and girls are worthy of our attention. What action will they take to address the women’s safety from these barbarian acts?

We must exercise a greater voice to expect what we want of our respective countries in responding to sexual violence as weapons of war. The U.S. permanent ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, is tasked with taking the U.S. message to the world. Having written, A Problem for Hell: America and the Age of Genocide she knows the issues well. Let us enlist Power’s assistance to solidify a response to ISIS — “No more.” No more sexual violence against women throughout conflict situations that proliferate around the ISIS world. Women and children deserve more from us.

In addition to U.S. and U.N. officials, we should demand greater and swifter attention be paid to the common practice of sexual violence as a weapon of war. The sexual atrocities committed against the Yazidi will certainly continue without immediate action by the U.S. and the U.N. We must demand that our government take immediate steps, not just to retaliate against the killings of U.S. and Britain, but also to interrupt the sexual violence against Yazidi women and girls.

The United Nations must condemn the attacks against women as war crimes to the full extent, and direct that ISIS fighters be prosecuted in International Criminal Court. This, too, is an international outrage.

These actions are not only achievable, but long overdue. Let us begin!

Co-authored by Elise Collins Shields and Jill Koyama, an anthropologist, and Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Practice at the University of Arizona. She is also a Tucson Op-Ed Fellow.


Share this:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr Email

Camp Casey Chronicles


 Reflections on War, Crawford, and the Case against THIS War

This morning we leave Camp Casey with mixed feelings. We leave behind many new friends who will scatter, literally, across the continent over the next week. We are complete with what we needed to do, connected to our next steps, and exhausted from the heat, the humidity, and the week-long strong emotions. Now we can unravel and absorb all that we have experienced.

We are now traveling down I-35 headed toward Austin, the liberal bastion of Texas, and then on through Dripping Springs to Kerrville, to see my mother.

Had we told her we were in Crawford, she would have been right out there with us, which is why we did not tell her. She would have loved waving her own American flag and ‘cussin’ at the right wing Connecticut Yankee occupiers whom she thinks stole Texas from the “real Texans,” those Johnny-come-lately’s who wouldn’t know the Alamo from the internet.

Now 81 years of age, sporting high blood pressure and even higher spirits, she would have no doubt created a scene! We did not feel it was appropriate to let her loose in a tent with peace activists. Actually, neither one of us wanted to be responsible for her if she got out of control while “straightenin’ those old boys out,” which she does frequently with enthusiasm and abandon. She reminds us, if we dare chide her,

“ What are they going to, hit me? I’m an old lady.”

The Crawford Sherriff’s Dept. is depending on our side to be peaceful, at least.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr Email

August 28 Camp Casey Good byes

There are few words to express the experience of being amongst a group of people who care so deeply about an issue that they drove, hitch hiked, rode bus and train, car pooled, and otherwise moved hillsides to spend two weeks speaking out against a war of choice that has put so many at risk — from many nations.  While most of the people present at the protest rally were from U.S., the effort was on behalf of all global citizens — old and young, military and civilian.

We leave this desolate ground knowing that the road back will be long and arduous.  Both our country and our world hang in the balance of decisions that were made on false evidence and intentional deception.  Representations were made for ill founded reasons and now children will grow up without parents — parents will grow old without children.  Grand parent stories will be lost to the little ones forever.

The crosses are descansos, marking the indelible fact that “something happened here.”  Something indeed that will shade my life for a long, long time.

I leave with a full heart and hope that people, in the end, are the deciders.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr Email

Camp Casey Grows and Swells


Oh, what a day it was! Oh, what a day!

The tent was full, our hearts were full, and my own experience became very palpable in the reality of what it means to have a child in a position to have to lead in a conflict that has been so radically misfounded.

I spoke with a young West Point grad who has just returned from Iraq and is on his way to a base in Texas. He spoke of the difficulty of being a liberal in the Army right now. When I asked him how the soldiers dealt with the facts that have come out regarding the lack of weapons of mass destruction. He said that they simply do not choose to believe the evidence, even when faced with the results of a congressional hearing. It is a most uncomfortable position to be in when they are being asked to defend what is indefensible.

The rally was moving, inspirational, exhausting, and beautiful. Nonviolent dissent at its best. A courageous thing to watch and experience

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr Email

Ten Commandments and Hot Cowgirls in Crawford, TX

Good Morning, America!

Finishing a Whataburger with cheese and “no katchup” for breakfast, we drove out to Crawford, stopping to take a picture of the two “Barbie” cowgirl posts that guard the entrance to an enormous ranch house along the road near Camp Casey. With those breasts, who would dare trespass?


The Barbie’s are made of black sheet metal, but this morning for the first time since we have been driving this road, they have white hats and painted boots. Gettin’ dressed up for the weekend?

Down in the center of town, at the blinking light, is Texas Star gift shop with the “biggest selection of Bush items in the world.”  I was definitely tempted to go inside and see!  On the side of the building stands a huge banner “We love W” with “George” on one side, “Laura” on the other, and a civil war cannon on the roof above, painted red white and blue. Beside the cannon flies an American flag waving for liberty. A picture will be posted tonight on this site. The signal in the tent is too weak to upload.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr Email

Counterinsurgency Reported at Camp Casey

Insurgent Sleeps on Watch

If this is the counterinsurgency I am concerned! What fills this camp is a huge group of middle aged women with floppy hats and sagging breasts from nursing those kids who intended to serve their country and ended up building bases in Iraq for Bush and boys.

Joining us is an entire contingent of older-than-middle-aged men who know the meaning of war from the inside out. Many of them date back to the “Great War” WWII. Some with cowboy hats, bolo ties and “Hi, Ya’ll” accents. Some of them can’t hear anymore, but they are INTO it.

And then there are the Viet Nam vets who look pretty darn good, considering! They actually look younger than I figured they would. I am certain that some of them die their hair ’cause they aren’t as gray as I am!

Followed by the the Iraq Vets Against the War who are gentle giants — so young, so reminding me of my own son. One towering Marine plays taps each night at dusk, as we gather around the crosses. Last night we were joined by yet another Gold Star mother. Wearing her grief fresh and raw.  Not very scary as an insurgent, but very frightening to me as a mother of a soldier in Iraq.  

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr Email

Dripping and Blogging



Heat and Laughter in a Blistering Tent


Hands sweaty and dripping over our keyboards, we begin another day of active activism. We are exhausted.  No more make up, looking and feeling older.  Just showing up for each critical day of “no more.” Camp Casey II is a large tent donated by a Dallas catering company on land that was donated for the month by the cousin of a local cowboy who shot his gun into the air some days ago. Called by the newspaper “a party tent” — this is no party. These folks are somber, serious. Many have children in Iraq, or, as one couple from Wisconsin told me yesterday, one son, a National Guard member, is already in Iraq, the other on his way. Special tables are reserved for military families, for Gold Star moms who have lost a child, for Veterans for Peace, for Iraq Veterans Against the War. All are represented. All are mobilized. Internet connection is rough here.  Too many trying to use the limited bandwidth.  We are being asked to rotate.  Several are are blogging live from voice stream in the center of the tent, under the looming replica of a casket painted with American Flag beside the enourmous banner painted in the likeness of Casey Sheehan, the child whose death began this vigil outside of George W. Bush’s hideaway ranch in the hill country of Texas. But this is not about one person. This isn’t just about Casey.  

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr Email