Ryan Clancy, a Milwaukee resident, substitute teacher and business owner, traveled to Iraq to serve as a human shield. So did antiwar activist Ken Joseph Jr., an Assyrian Christian who, too, traveled to Iraq to protect the Iraqis against the allegedly unwarranted American aggression.
First Clancy, whom I interviewed. The following is my excerpted interview with him:
Elder: Ryan, why did you do it?
Clancy: I think the Bush administration has made it pretty clear that they're not going to be swayed by more traditional ways of voicing one's opinion, like free protest, letter-writing, etc . . . I felt like that was the only way that I could get my point across.
Elder: How does one become a human shield?
Clancy: There are organizations that routinely go over to Iraq. . . . You didn't have to apply to be a human shield, a label that we never applied to ourselves. It very loosely defined a huge range of people, and the only characteristic that we all shared was that we wanted to support the Iraqi people and stop the war . . .
Elder: Were you allowed to freely move about the country?
Clancy: Most, if not all of the journalists who were going into Iraq had "minders," and we'd follow them around under the auspices of translating for them . . . we had free rein in Baghdad . . .
Elder: Many people I've interviewed, including Iraqi exiles, tell me that most Iraqis welcome Americans as liberators, not as occupiers. Is that your opinion?
Clancy: There is no great love for Saddam. There's a tremendous hatred for the 12 years of sanctions and for U.S. foreign policy, but there is no hatred whatsoever for individual Americans. I did speak to a handful of Iraqis who . . . were willing to acquiesce to that (war) as a price for not living under this terrible brutal regime.
Elder: It seems to me that you're saying the majority of Iraqi citizens with whom you came in contact do not like the Saddam regime, and would welcome being liberated.
Clancy: No, the vast majority were not in favor of an American invasion. There was a small minority that was.
Tell that to Ken Joseph Jr., an Assyrian Christian from Chicago who also traveled to Iraq to stop the war. In an article entitled "I Was Wrong" (found at assyrianchristians.com), Joseph describes a vastly different experience.
"How do you admit you were wrong? What do you do when you realize those you were defending in fact did not want your defense and wanted something completely different from you and from the world?
"As far as I can tell I was the only person including the media, Human Shields and others in Iraq without a Government 'minder' there to guard.