Remembering a friend killed in Iraq, Marla Ruzicka
Marla was working for a humanitarian organization she founded called CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict), which documents cases of innocent civilians hurt by war. Marla and numerous other volunteers would go door-to-door interviewing families who had lost loved ones or had their property destroyed by the fighting. She would then take this information back to Washington and lobby for reparations for these families.
more info: http://www.civicworldwide.org
It is with deep sadness and regret that I am writing to inform you that Marla died on Saturday at the age of 28 in a suicide bomb attack. Faiz, her Iraqi partner, was also killed.
It is tragically ironic that two beautiful people who devoted their lives to helping innocent victims of war have now become them.
The attack occurred on the Baghdad Airport road as she traveled to visit an Iraqi child injured by a bomb, part of her daily work of identifying and supporting innocent victims of this war.
Only a few hours before her death, Marla sent me this photo of Harah. She was 3 months old when she was thrown from a vehicle just before it was destroyed by a U.S. rocket attack. Her entire family was killed. Hers just one example of the hundreds of lives Marla and Faiz touched with their heroic work.
Their deaths are profound losses not only for their family and friends, but for the entire world. There are precious few who have the courage to stand up and demand justice for all the victims of conflict wherever they may be. This troubled world cannot afford to lose people like them.
Marla overflowed with passion and had an incredible sense of obligation to help those less fortunate. She worked tirelessly to push the US military on its responsibility to keep a proper accounting of the consequences of military action on civilians in Iraq.
While her incredible passion and courage never faded, she was often torn between concern for her personal safety and a fervent desire to be in the field. She recently moved to New York City and was eager to establish a base after spending so many years living out of her suitcase and on the couches of friends, including mine.
While she was serious about her work, Marla never forgot to have fun and was always the life of the party. She had an incredible knack for making friends -- we couldn’t walk a block in DC without her running into people she knew. I, along with human rights workers, journalists and many others have been bolstered by her spirit and drive.
It is crucial that Marla and Faiz be commemorated and that their work continue. I can assure you, we will continue to shine a spotlight on innocent victims of war and ensure that their crucial work is continued.
Thank you all for your support.
with love and peace,
april [at] democracyinaction.org
Click here to read our 2005 goals and please make a donation to help us continue Marla's work.
More information will be available in the coming hours.
Christian Science Monitor Article
Al Jazeera article
Concerned citizens can & must re-dedicate ourselves to a renewed commitment to ending this Imperial Occupation.
Updated: 9:00 a.m. ET April 18, 2005
Driving past vineyards and rolling green hills I slowly approached Marla Ruzicka's house. The small lakeside home was an image out of a Rockwell painting: beautiful, serene and worlds away from Afghanistan where I first met her nearly four years ago. It was hard to believe that my friend who dedicated herself to working in war zones had grown up in such a sheltered and peaceful place. The contrast was overpowering and only made me admire her more for stretching so far beyond her surroundings to help people in countries that most of her neighbors had never heard of. Marla was still full of suprises.
Marla played many roles. She was a do-gooder to war victims, social maven, matchmaker and caretaker to many by simply taking the time to ask us how we were doing. Every journalist, NGO worker or government official knew Marla.
She kept people's spirits up by organizing weekly parties and never seemed to run out of energy. She made the war zones bearable and was perhaps one of the most selfless and fearless women I have known.
I remember one of the last conversations we had last year when she admitted to me that she was tired. It was obvious to many of us that Marla was so busy taking care of others that she was seriously neglecting herself. She talked about taking some time off but felt guilty about abandoning the the Iraqis she was trying to help. That was the last time we spoke and she promised not to go back to Baghdad until the security improved.
Then this morning at 7 a.m. I got a call telling me she had died. The irony that she was killed trying to help victims of violence is so painful. I still don't want to believe she is gone and yet I already miss her.
Her twin brother Mark told me that she was known in her home town as an activist. On the day Marla graduated and walked across the stage to get her high school diploma someone shouted, "Marla, go out and save the world!"
I don't think for a second Marla ever doubted that she could make a difference and that optimism is a gift she shared with all of us.
Baghdad: For more than two years Marla Ruzicka worked to get help for civilians caught in crossfire in Iraq. A 28-year-old Californian with blond hair and an electric smile, she ran a one-woman aid group.
On Saturday Ms Ruzicka became a casualty herself. A suicide bomber attacked a convoy of security contractors near her car on the airport road in Baghdad, killing her, her Iraqi driver and one other person, US embassy officials in Baghdad said.
Ms Ruzicka had worked in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. She took great risks, often travelling without guards and armoured cars. She also had a gift for promoting her cause.
She worked with Senator Patrick Leahy to get $US2.5 million ($3.2 million) for civilian victims in Afghanistan, and later $US10 million for victims in Iraq. Last week another $US10 million was authorised for the Iraq program.
"She was the one that persuaded us," Senator Leahy said on Sunday. "Here's someone who at 28 years old did more than most people do in a lifetime."
Ms Ruzicka often arranged gatherings for the correspondents in Baghdad and in Afghanistan, using the occasions to lobby reporters to write about the things that mattered to her.
Ms Ruzicka came to activism early. When she was 15 she walked into the offices of an advocacy group in San Francisco and collected all its brochures. Later she persuaded an organiser at the group to give a talk at her school.
In her early 20s she was hauled off by police after protesting during a speech by George Bush when he was governor of Texas.
Later she changed tactics. In 2002 she attended a Senate hearing where the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, gave evidence about Iraq. Afterwards she shook his hand.
"I didn't scream," she said recently. "I thanked him for testifying. And I started talking about civilian casualties," she said, laughing.
She came to Iraq in 2003 and founded Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict.
Last year she moved to New York and was planning to go home in about a week. On the day she was killed Ms Ruzicka had been visiting Iraqis who had lost relatives in the violence.
Brigadier General Karl Horst, of the US Army, who arrived on the scene soon after the bombing, said Ms Ruzicka's car was in flames, and that she had burns over 90 per cent of her body.
The New York Times
first, the use of the term "innocent" to decribe civilian casualties, as if to suggest that Iraqis who resisted the US invasion and the US occupation are "not innocent"
such a distinction is extremely pernicious, and implies that Iraqis are not entitled to decide as to whether violent resistance to the invasion and occupation was, and remains, appropriate, and act upon that belief, especially given the failure of the peace movement globally to protect them from the predations of the US
the US is equally culpable in all deaths resulting from this conflict, and any attempt to create a special class of "innocent" people, based upon their non-involvement in the conflict, should be rejected
second, along these lines, there is the troubling, difficult question as to whether her work ended up legitimizing the war and occupation to some degree
there is no clear answer, but, it must be noted that the entire process by which Iraqis are deemed to be non-combatants, and, hence, entitled to compensation from the US government for the loss of life, injury and destruction of property, has a tendency to falsely humanize the invasion and the occupation by suggesting that it is subject to a kind of legal regulation and opportunity for redress
this becomes apparent when you look at the amount of compensation money involved, in the low millions, when the devastation inflicted upon the country is undoubtedly in the billions, which the Iraqis must pay American contractors to ineptly repair out of their own oil revenue, assuming the contractors do anything other than pocket the money
no doubt, her work helped a lot of people, and they could certainly use whatever assistance they received, but we should resist any attempt, explicit or implicit, to incorporate her achievements into a broader effort to humanize the actions of the US in Iraq
somehow, I suspect that, without having known her, she would be equally appalled by such an endeavor
There is a reason that groups like Voices in the Wildereness and other US based peace groups have discontinued sending volunteers to Iraq for extended periods.
As a US anti-war activist associated in the past with Code Pink, Marla must have known that any ongoing association with the US occupation forces might be seen by Iraqis as collaboration, or worse.- at a time when Pentagon contracted US civilian contractors providing support for the occupation are crawling all over the country - often masquarading as humanitarian relief providers.
This loss is doubly tragic, because it might have been preventable. One wonders what concrete advice she received from other US activists like Medea Benjamin, who have spent time in occupied Iraq.
[Because she got off her ass and actually did something to help the people of Iraq instead of just talking about it? Because she obviously befriended some American Military personnel? She actually cared about the safety of the Iraqi people and was doing something about it. Also, it seems that she understood that American servicemen and women are people that do care and are there to make a difference as well. She was making a real difference, I'm willing to bet that you are not.]
comments like this implicitly suggest that the only way to help the Iraqi people is to remain silent about the occupation like Marla did
nothing could be further from the truth, as I wrote in this comment posted today, 4/19/05, on the American Leftist blog:
also, as I wrote in this comment, and mentioned here earlier, Marla essentially adopted the rhetoric of the occupation by separating Iraqis into good, "innocent" Iraqis and bad "guilty" ones who violently resist the occupation
fact is, quite a number of people have done equally good things for people in Iraq, possibly even greater than Marla's efforts, without abandoning their willingness to speak candidly about US actions there
for example, Simona Toretta:
by remaining silent about the reality of the occupation, and identifying herself so openly with the Occupation Authority and its military presence, Ruzicka did a real disservice to the people that she cared about so much, as she either accidentally or deliberately marketed the absurd notion of an 'occupation with a human face'
and, sadly, for her and her family, she invariably became associated with targets of the resistance
I found the following Marla Ruzicka citation in a July 21, 2002 New York Times (byline Dexer Filkins) story on civilian casualties in Afghanistan which tends to underline that this was in fact her view:
"Marla Ruzicka, a Global Exchange field worker in Afghanistan, said the most common factor behind the civilian deaths has been an American reliance on incomplete information to decide on targets.
'Smart bombs are only as smart as people on the ground,' Ms. Ruzicka said. 'Before you bomb, you should be 100 percent certain of who you are bombing.'"
Whatever one may say about her bravery and generosity, those are hardly the words of a principled opponent of imperial war.
Any loss of life is a tragedy for the family and friends of the dead but...
Reading her writing almost made me vomit.
'Sorry we killed your family hunting the terrorists that ruined our liberation of you. Here have a few 20s and let me get a shot for my web page and future house seat bid.'
Charity is not activism because it’s done to benefit the self image of the oppressor not to empower the oppressed with self determination. She shook Rumsfeilds hand just like Saddam. Put that picture on the web page and ask what message does that send?
You feel so much for the resistance? Go over and become the al jazeera segment of the week.
(unfortunately, I don't have copy of it to post here in its entirety)
the person that criticized her writings has it correct, at least in so far as she identified herself with the rhetoric of the occupation, and said some amazing, ludicrous things in support of its conduct
I wouldn't say that she wanted to run for Congress some day, that's a little cold hearted, but she did say that she wanted to work at the State Department some day, with an emphasis upon civilian casualties, and I address the implications of this remark in my comment referenced above
She in effect renounced the anti-war movement.
Why should it be expected to laud her?
How many of us here, safe and living the good life can relate to what she tried to do? Even if you differ in opinion on what is right or wrong on US policy, you can agree that she tried to do what she thought would help without causing further harm.
In my opinion she was someone who was quite ordinary like you or I, but her desire to do the right thing led her to do the most amazing, extraordinary things, and it was always out of love. I hope that people, regardless of their political views, are able to see that she was not a selfish human being, or a sell-out, or anything of the sort. The only thing that she was could possibly have hoped to accomplish for herself in her humanitarian aid work was to single-handedly save the world. And as such there's no way in my book that what she was doing could be wrong.
I'm proud to have known her, and I'm sad that I won't ever get to see her again.
privately, it's a little different:
[From: <restes60 [at] earthlink.net>
Reply To: restes60 [at] earthlink.net
To: <matt.spencer [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: RE: Marla
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2005 00:15:58 -0400
None of the people like you, who, unlike me towards Marla, have been
personally insulting and profane, have taken the time to dispute one
thing that I have posted factually or politically about her and CIVIC.
I'm sure that, privately, she was a wonderful person and did some
amazing things. But she assumed a public role, and, in my view,
somewhat arrogantly, spoke as if her approach, with involves collusion
with the occupation, is a superior one.
So, it's entirely appropriate to judge her public actions, which I did.
Your response, like the others, just goes to show that I'm on the right
track about her and CIVIC, just look at this confirmation from the Wall
Marla may have been a great person, but politically, between her and
Simona Toretta, there's no comparison.
From: matt spencer matt.spencer [at] earthlink.net
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2005 19:28:39 -0700
To: restes60 [at] earthlink.net
You really have some nerve to criticize the dead. Marla was a terrific
human being. I know this because she was my friend. You on the
other hand are beyond rude, as well as hopelessly confused about the
world. Please, for your own sake, get some therapy.
One can only hope that he is more tolerant of dissent within the Green Party itself, and that the Green Party doesn't share Ruzicka's view that collusion with the occupation is an appropriate way to help the people of Iraq.
By Matt Gonzalez
On April 16, while traveling on a dangerous airport road in Baghdad, Marla Ruzicka was killed in a car bombing. She was the founder of the Campaign to Aid Innocent Victims in Conflict, a group that sought to document civilian casualties in the Iraqi War. Sen. Patrick Leahy has credited her with obtaining millions of dollars in U.S. federal aid for civilian victims in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Though she was only 28 years old, she was already well known in Bay Area activist circles. An activist who got her start with Global Exchange, she was also active in the Green Party.
I met Marla in 2000, when she was working on Medea Benjamin's campaign for U.S. Senate. In fact, she was at the protest that caused me to join the Green Party. And both she and Medea embraced my entry into the Green Party, even putting together a house party at Medea and Kevin Danaher's home for me.
I still remember having to plead with Marla because she wanted to give my campaign all of the money she had in her bank account, a couple of hundred dollars, and I wouldn't let her.
Later I would always see her. Whether it as at a rally against pharmaceutical companies that were making it virtually impossible for AIDS medicines to reach Africa, working on the campaign for public power, or protesting against Enron, California's energy deregulation fiasco, and the World Trade Organization, she would be there.
Marla fought on a broad front, never allowing her concerns to be myopic. Her mentors, Medea Benjamin and Kevin Danaher, had treated her to a lesson in the politics of progressive change. And she was eager not just to know but to act. She was eager to fix.
How to describe Marla? She had a lot of moxy, and she was indefatigable. She knew how to cajole her way into and out of places she shouldn't have been allowed to be. Her smile could melt the fiercest opposition. And her optimism was infectious. She fought hard, but she also laughed and knew how to let her hair down.
And of course there were moments of great doubt. In quieter moments, as a gathering died down, she would often be self-reflective, wonder if we were getting somewhere. But she wouldn't linger there. There was, after all, too much to do.
I can recall a picnic in Golden Gate Park where Marla went off to throw a football with some guys she didn't know. Then she would dart back and play with some nearby children – and though she didn't know them either, in minutes she was kissing and hugging them. Then she would hang out, catching up with all the activists there and talk easily and knowingly about the progressive concern of the moment.
She often dropped by the art parties at my office in City Hall. Always with a great big smile on her face, she had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in her life. She loved to talk with Mark Leno and Tony Hall. She loved trying to get to know them and urging them to support her progressive causes.
Her death has caused many to portray her in almost martyrlike language. But at the bottom of it all, she was just a human being trying to make the world better. She wasn't deterred by rules and obstacles or frontiers and borders. Beneath the girlish smile was a person firmly committed and armed with information.
Selfishly, I'm going to miss getting those late-night phone calls "checking in." I'm going to miss those calls from across the globe telling me that something I was doing here was so important. She had a way of letting you know that she had her eye on you and that what you were doing mattered.
I must say, Marla would have loved the attention she's getting now. She would have loved that the issue she cared about was getting noticed. But she would have hated knowing she had put her driver, Faiz Ali Salim, who also died in the car bombing, in harm's way. She would have hated knowing that his young newborn would be fatherless.
It hurts me to think Marla suffered such a painful death. The New York Times accounts of her car engulfed in flames and Marla surviving for a short time with burns covering over 90 percent of her body, are hard to read.
Marla's will to live was strong. She died trying to live, wanting to live. Saying "I'm alive" at the very end of her life, according to the medic that treated her, conveys how tenacious she was.
I'm heartened to know that so many are remembering Marla.
Let's keep her alive. Matt Gonzalez, the former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, is now an attorney in private practice but still a progressive political activist.
While Ruzicka may have had good intentions, whether or not mixed in with other not-so-good ones, she was objectively working for the occupation. Unfortunately, she got in the way of a resistance fighter who apparently had the noble intention of killing some of the occupation's hard cops, a.k.a. "security contractors", and inadvertently got a couple of their soft cops instead.
It's a pity that an energetic young person who had been part of the anti-war movement wound up as a martyr to the cause of "humane" imperialism. What a tragic waste!
as I've said before, the defensiveness embedded within this arrogant rudeness, really shows that CIVIC is a morally hollow shell
no wonder the anti-war movement in America appears to be moribund among political activists, having been transformed into an enterprise lead primarily by veterans and otherwise politically disinterested families fearful of the children being snatched into the military by recruiters or a draft
its remnants now uncritically celebrate someone who abandoned the movement, and openly promoted the purported superiority of her approach of working with the occupation
when I die, I hope that the people who know me remember me honestly, warts and all, instead of deluding themselves into believing that I was something that I wasn't
[From: Matt Spencer <matt.spencer [at] earthlink.net>
Reply To: matt.spencer [at] earthlink.net
To: <restes60 [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: RE: Marla
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2005 14:13:46 -0700 (GMT-07:00)
I disagree. I think you have no copmmon sense or respect for people. I think very little of you or any opinions you might have and surely could not give a shit what you might have written about CIVIC. Recognize that by behaving poorly you are not doing anything constructive - merely making an ass of yourself.]
Senator Leahy sponsored an amendment which is now U.S. law, which put human rights conditions on military aid to the Nepalese Army. (I am not against US military aid as we do not want a Maoist government).So she supported U.S. imperialism's arming of the reactionary Nepalese ruling class because "we [sic!] do not want a Maoist government"! But apparently "we", i.e., Marla, wanted a Hindu government that continues the brutal exploitation and oppression (including national and caste oppression) of the great majority of the people of Nepal! More important than the specifics, though, is that she would support U.S. imperialist intervention, directly or by proxy, anywhere in the world!
Some of the stuff by Faiz is just as bad! One diary entry of his is called A Message From Faiz After the Handover, where he's clearly referring to the "handover" of nominal power to Iraqi puppets in the middle of 2004. It includes this gem:
With the handover of power to Iraqis I am very optimistic. But I do think that US forces should pull out of the cities and onto bases.In other words, he supported the occupation but didn't want U.S. troops to be on the front lines! Also take a look at his report from Najaf! Although the facts he reported make it clear that the U.S. military is responsible for the horrors he described, he managed to blame the resistance, apparently because the Americans kill "innocent" people while trying to kill the resistance fighters!
Whatever their humanitarian intentions, Marla and Faiz were not part of the anti-war movement and their organization, CIVIC, is not deserving of one iota of support! It will, in any case, receive plenty of support from liberal peaceniks who want to avoid responsibility for the consequences of imperialist war without actually opposing imperialism.
"One friend recalled watching her sitting on a tank in Iraq looking striking in a blue dress. When someone asked Ruzicka where she got the dress, she said she'd bought it at a yard sale in San Francisco for $1.25."
Apparently she was so comfortable with the occupying forces--and they with her--that she would hang-out on top of tanks and pass the time.
When said tank was used to massacre "innocent victims" she'd scurry off to take a report and dispense some dollars to survivors.
". . . The missionairies of the American Empire are the NGO brigades. Like their predecessors they try to soften the impact of the new order . . . . . a few former critics of imperialism found themselves trapped by the debris of 9/11 . . . . [such as] men and women who were once intensely involved in left wing activities. It has been a short march for some of them: from the outer fringes of radical politics to the antechambers of the State Department. Having honed their polemical and ideological skills within the left, they now deploy them against old friends, This is why they have become the useful idiots of the Empire. They will be used and dumped. . . . What unites the new Empire loyalists is the underlying belief that, despite certain flaws, the military and economic power of the United States represents the only emancipatory project, and, for that reason, must be supported against those who would challenge its power."
"Street Fighting Years:
An Autobiography of the Sixties"
Ruzicka and CIVIC were traveling down this path. Compare and contrast Ruzicka's comment about antiwar protesters (she had no patience for those who did nothing but protest), with her preposterous recent published remarks about US troops respectfully facilitating inquiries about the deaths of Iraqi civilians with empathetic sadness (but, what happened when she did not accompany the family making the request?), and US troops understanding that they had to be careful about the use of indiscriminate violence against the Iraqi population because otherwise, they would not win their "hearts and minds".
Ruzicka and CIVIC maintained a discrete distance from the occupation, while gently recycling its rhetoric for a global audience. And, of course, Ruzicka openly expressed her desire to "march" to "the antechambers of the State Department".
Also, what was the source of her funding when she was trekking through Nepal a few months ago and writing in support of continued U.S. military aid to the Nepalese state?
I have never met a totally perfect or innocent person, but HFS, she's dead. can you arrogant bastards give it a rest?
Before she died, did you really look at anything she did? So why do you put her life under a microscope seeking fault now?
While Marla is not alive to defend herself, there are plenty of people who are alive and who are praising her work. I'm waiting for any of them respond to our criticisms with something more than name-calling.
They can't without tipping their hand.
But spare us the sanctimonious crap about "nuance" and "balance."
To the people who were friends with Marla-- I'm sorry for your lost. However not putting her actions and political orientation up for scrutiny is a big mistake. Reflection and respectful criticism are ways that allow the anti-war movement to grow.
We have no tolerance for racists, but we will tell you which races and religions are approved. We despise authority, unless it's our group calling the shots
What is this needless banter accomplishing? Can't you just let it go? The lady died. Say goodbye and shut your mouth unless you choose to say something good about her.
In the process of mourning, we just suspend our critical judgement in respect to her family?
holy shit, then all the suicide bombers are going get a free ride when we can't be critical of them. damn, how convenient!
In the process of mourning, we just suspend our critical judgement in respect to her family? "
It depends on the death, but if you think about the effects of an argument beyond that of simply convincing peoole of what you think, you will realize how counterproductive it is to engage in this type of argument in this case at this time. Marla wasnt perfect and co-operated with authorities at some level in Iraq; who doesnt (do you pay taxes)? One can take just about anyone and find things that one can point to in this way.
When an activist dies one can get upset when things one disagrees with with their cause are overly promoted to honor the dead but in this case it just comes a across as an insensitive wonkishness where nobody is going to step in and defend Marla since there is something unseemly about nitpicking about someone's life while their memorial service is still going on. Even Iraqis who hate US occupation and had issues with CIVIC are a lot more sensitive to Marla's death then the type of argument going on on this site:
It is small minded, ill mannered,bigotry.
I did not know her, nor heard of her prior to her death. The best thing I can say on her behalf is that she was doing what she thought would help, without causing harm to others.
To those that wish to quibble, this person planted no bombs, did not execute anyone or maim any one. If you wish to prove that her shaking Rumsfelds hand caused children to die, go for it. I don't believe that to be the case.
I invite you to go back to what I have written here, and the links that have posted to other articles and comments, and then respond, without being so insulting
but, then, what else is there to do? CIVIC was clearly designed to become a humans rights monitoring organization under the umbrella of the US occupation in Iraq, and one can imagine it performing a similar role in Iran and Venezuela, if the US attacks either of these countries in the near future
for Ruzicka's Panglossian description of the US occupation, go here, towards the end of this article:
clearly, Ruzicka and CIVIC, as revealed in the AlterNet article, were deliberating serving the purpose of creating the myth of a humane US military machine that launches wars, and conducts occupations, in the most humane way possible
for example, read this piece from the American Prospect, that makes this clear:
for the unpleasant reality, as reported by longtime Middle Eastern correspondent, Patrick Cockburn, go here:
("Terrified US Soldiers Still Killing Civilians With Impugnity, While the Dead Go Uncounted")
sorry to be so bigoted to point this out, but there's something truly hollow at the core of a politics that would consider it more important to shield Ruzicka and CIVIC from criticism at the price of concealing the brutalities inflicted upon the Iraqis by the occupation
[Has it occured to any of you that outlooks change? Viewpoints that are easy to support from a distance often don't survive the reality of the situation. You are second guessing a dead womans thoughts and intentions, seemingly so you can boast about your own righteousness to the cause.
It is small minded, ill mannered,bigotry.
I did not know her, nor heard of her prior to her death. The best thing I can say on her behalf is that she was doing what she thought would help, without causing harm to others.
To those that wish to quibble, this person planted no bombs, did not execute anyone or maim any one. If you wish to prove that her shaking Rumsfelds hand caused children to die, go for it. I don't believe that to be the case.]
The military reimburses for damage they cause. I have been involved in those and seen claims denied due to the claimant inflating their claim, or being the cause of the damage. If someone shoots at me and my return fire destroys part of the house, we don't pay.
For the second article, well, that's just the way it is. In a land where anyone can and does often turn into an enemy combatant, it's what you do to stay alive. 1 friend was shot in the hand, 2 were killed by an RPG that took them and 1 passenger out and crippled the interpreter with them, 2 killed by an IED that flipped their truck, 3 killed in an ambush on the BIAP road about a week ago and a really close friend in the hospital with severe burns. I can speak from experience that not one of these people ever killed or wounded an unarmed individual.
This may not fit in with your view. You may deem this propaganda. But from my outlook, the person we were discussing did nothing wrong. That may be impossible for you to accept, but tell me what action she took that harmed those around her. Don't give me rhetoric. Tell me now if she gave false witness, targeted a building, pulled a trigger, anything physicaly harmful.
I don't think you can. What I have seen pointed out is that she spoke her mind and did not read from your script or from Rumsfeld's. The bigotry I reffered to is the ostracism of those that don't repeat the mantra of the moment.
All you liberals should take heed.
The damage a group like CIVIC commits is political. Like Richard said before, CIVIC lends a humanitarian gloss to the US occupation, and by extension, US imperialism.
The official story is that every "innocent victim" the US creates is an accident. Yes, there have been tens of thousands of accidents in Iraq alone in the past couple years, but, hey, American morality has its costs. Although many gung-ho imperialists denounced CIVIC for "blaming America," smart imperialists see how helpful an organization like CIVIC--which believes that anyone who fights back against US aggression is "guilty"--can be for PR purposes. GI "the military reimburses for damage they cause" Joel knows this well.
Marla Ruzicka apparently had her eye on getting a "civilian casuality" desk in the State Department. Anyone who doesn't see how Orwellian that is has their head up their ass.
I admit I don't really know of her group. never heard of them or of most NGOs operating out there. Unless they are hiring me to protect them, I have no use for them.
Aaron, you said you have friends in Fallujah you converse with, what do they say about her?
My main reason for defending this person, is that they lost their life trying to do what they thought was right. She tried to help and it cost her life. The argument about her future goals are pointless, as you will never know what they were. if she had wanted a DOS job, she probably could have had one after her tour in Afghanistan. I refuse to speculate more.
In her work, I do not see her defending the military. I also don't see her attacking it either. If she had, there exists a very good chance she would have had her visa revoked and expelled. That's not unique to Iraq. It also happens in Zimbabwe, Indonesia, etc. It is easy to critique from a distance after the fact.
As for myself, I'm going to Afghanistan soon, with that evil empire Dyncorp and the kid goes to Iraq in 45 days. We'll do our part for what we believe in. Will you do yours?
proving that "good" things sometimes happen to bad people!
Both in Afghanistan and Iraq, in furtherance of her humanitarian schemes, Marla Ruzicka elected a stance of studious neutrality in ascribing responsibility for the victims of US bombings and ground fire. This pursuit of "credibility" certainly yielded its ironic reward in the political range of those who publicly mourned her.
A US senator Barbara Boxer attended Ruzicka's funeral in Lakeport, northern California. Bob Herbert of the New York Times poured out an emotional column honoring Ruzicka. So did Robert L. Pollock, a writer for the Wall Street Journal editorial page. " America has lost a peerless and unique ambassador," Pollock wrote on April 19. "[S]he stood out from the crowd of journalists and self-proclaimed humanitarians--far too many of whom believed their mission was to bear witness to an American misadventure in Iraq that would, and should, fail."
The sourness in my soul stemmed from a contrast. Almost exactly two years earlier, on March 16, 2003, another brave young woman in a foreign land lost her life, not to a suicide bomber, but under the blade of a 47-ton bulldozer made in America by the Caterpillar company specifically for house demolitions and driven by an Israeli soldier. Maybe, in the last seconds of his life, that suicide bomber in Baghdad never even saw Ruzicka. The soldier in Gaza surely saw Corrie, clearly visible in her fluorescent orange jacket, and rolled the bulldozer blade right over her.
No US senator attended Rachel's funeral after her parents brought her home to the state of Washington. Both US senators ran in the opposite direction. Later the Corries disclosed that after their return to the US with their daughter's body, they contacted their US Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both Democrats, and told them how their daughter had been deliberately murdered while peacefully demonstrating against house demolitions, which are violations of international law. Murray and Cantwell, the Corries recall, were quick with expressions of outrage and promises of investigations. The Corries never heard from Murray or Cantwell again.
Cindy Corrie's mailbox filled with disgusting letters abusing her for being a bad mother, and the Israel-right-or-wrong crowd began an unrelenting campaign of abuse of Rachel, to the overall effect that she had it coming to her, that "She was defending terrorists who smuggle weapons across the border to kill Israelis", that the International Solidarity Movement of which she was a member, was a terrorist symp group.
As Professor Steve Niva of Evergreen State College in Olympia wrote on this site shortly after Corrie's death, "There is no evidence that Dr. Samir Nasrallah, whose house Rachel was defending, or anyone in this neighborhood were concealing any tunnels or were engaged in any attacks on Israelis. The Israeli army doesn't even make this insupportable claim. His house was being demolished because, like dozens of others that have been bulldozed in Hay Salaam, his home was near the 'Apartheid Wall' Israel was building. Moreover, the ISM has a policy of only protecting homes that are not suspected to be involved in tunnel activities."
Niva duly received a torrent of e-mailed abuse.
And how did the Israel-right-or-wrong crowd on the Evergreen campus react? Did Corrie's murder prompt them to any serious reflection on Applied Zionism in Gaza? No. Niva tells me that after some initial heartfelt expressions of sadness for Corrie, the small Zionist groups began complaining that they felt uncomfortable as Jews to be on campus, and a few started raising concerns about alleged anti-Israel and possibly anti-Semitic sentiments getting a free pass at Evergreen. They started to peddle charges about the Middle East Studies faculty--and rumors began to circulate at the local synagogue that there was a "crisis" regarding Jews at Evergreen. Slurs against Niva continue to this day, as they do against Corrie.
Mother Jones ran a 7,000 word attack on Corrie and ISM, later convincingly demonstrated by Olympia's Phan Nguyen to have been plagiarized from extreme right sites and sources. Nor was there measured lamentation from the Wall Street Journal's editorial page which surpassed itself in foam-flecked savagery in a piece by Ruhama Shattan, which managed to blame Corrie for the bombing death of the State Department officials that occurred in Gaza in October, 2004! Shattan's piece had already run in the Jerusalem Post and actually prompted the press attache in the US embassy in Tel Aviv, Paul Patin, to write a letter to the Post denouncing it as "hateful incitement" and "disgusting abuse of the anniversary of the death of this American citizen". Maybe this letter is what prompted the WSJ's editorial page editor, Paul Gigot to see Shattan's diatribe as suitable material for his pages.
Marla Ruzicka decided to work within the system, as they say. Maybe, given the aims of her organization, CIVIC, that was an appropriate choice. I'm not inclined to pass judgment on that. The "system" duly mourned and honored her. Rachel Corrie saw that the "system", with all its innumerable and fraudulent roadmaps, negotiated solutions, Oslo frameworks, processes of peace and so forth had no stopped, nay, was encouraging the daily outrages of demolitions of Palestinian homes and kindred barbarities. Corrie stood in the path of that system and died, and her murder was covered up by Israel and by the government of her own country.
Across the thirty years that I have written about the vast injustice done to Palestinians by successive Israeli governments, condoned and paid for by the US, I have read a thousand admonitions to support what peace plan was in train, to espouse solutions with "credibility". And here we are now, when all the peace plans and roadmaps stand definitively revealed as the frauds they always were. Any imagined evacuation of Israeli settlements from Gaza is pure distraction. The story lies in the new settlements stretching out from East Jerusalem, amputating any conceivably viable Palestinian state. In this enterprise, there's no "case for Israel" beyond violent, illegal occupation and eviction. Two years after her murder I honor Rachel Corrie and enquire of those supposedly reasonable voices on the Zionist side of the aisle here in the United States, What have you got to say for yourselves now?
Ruzicka was determined to help Iraqi victims and loved ones. “Their tragedies,” she said, “are our responsibilities.” Her funeral, at a church in her hometown of Lakeport, California, was a moving occasion as friends and co-workers paid tribute to a woman whose moral energies led her to take great risks and accomplish so much in a life of 28 years.
By all accounts, she was a wonderful and inspiring person. Yet after I left the funeral, some key themes of the media eulogies and other testimonials kept bothering me. We were being encouraged to celebrate Marla Ruzicka’s life, her work and her message. But -- in the context of a continuing war -- what was her message?
There may be no more succinct summary than the words that Ruzicka wrote just days before she died, in an article published posthumously with a Baghdad dateline in USA Today: “In my dealings with U.S. military officials here, they have shown regret and remorse for the deaths and injuries of civilians. Systematically recording and publicly releasing civilian casualty numbers would assist in helping the victims who survive to piece their lives back together.”
During the last two years of her life, Ruzicka found an accommodation with the American military. In sharp contrast to previous antiwar activism, she didn’t oppose the U.S. war in Iraq. “I decided not to take a position on the war but to try to do the right humanitarian thing,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle in December 2003. Increasingly, she found common ground with the Pentagon.
Humanitarian principles and justice certainly demand “compensation” for the wounded and for families of the dead. Such measures are morally right -- but woefully insufficient. We should never forget that it is impossible to truly compensate for a life that has been taken. Solutions require a halt to the wounding and killing, not just fulfillment of financial obligations after each tragedy.
In the United States, the mainstream news coverage of Marla Ruzicka would not have been so favorable if she had been a vocal opponent of the U.S. military occupation during the past two years. It was not only Ruzicka’s warmth and charm that endeared her to American generals in Baghdad and policymakers in Washington. It was also the reality that her work came to be understood as pragmatically helpful to the war effort.
Five days after Ruzicka died, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin wrote: “Civilian casualties are an inconvenient stain on the story line of Iraq liberation.” The column went on: “Ruzicka understood that helping civilian victims is not just the right thing to do, but also is militarily essential.” When Iraqi civilians die from Pentagon firepower, the deaths stir emotions “that will make young men think about attacking U.S. soldiers.”
After Ruzicka’s funeral, the Los Angeles Times noted that “her efforts, carried in Congress by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), resulted in an unprecedented $30 million in aid to victims.” But Congress has just put about $80 billion more into the war pipeline, and there’s a lot more of such supplemental funding on the horizon. Today, the formula in place provides for millions of dollars to “compensate” for deaths and wounds inflicted on Iraqi people -- and billions of dollars to keep killing and wounding them.
This spring, before and after her death, Ruzicka’s work was instrumental in exposing the fact that -- contrary to Washington’s longtime claims -- the U.S. military has been quietly documenting many of the Iraqi civilian deaths caused by the Pentagon’s forces. Is the emergence of this information a step in the right direction? Yes. But at the same time, media spin promotes the illusion that the U.S. war effort in Iraq is becoming evermore compassionate and life affirming. Such story lines are good public relations for a massive U.S. military operation that continues to injure and kill more Iraqi people.
I've gathered so far, that no one here is a fan of the US military. Accept the fact that they are not leaving Iraq anytime soon. How would you have them operate? that's what the deceased was getting at.
You may not like what I do or who I am, but at least you can consider the message. In what ways would you improve on the situation?
Really think about that. It's easy to say quit and go home, but what's the answer to the problem there? What are you willing to do to?
You feeling brave sitting at home writing your slanders of those you deem not worthy to be in your exclusive club. At 40 years old, I read your words with disdain. I see only pampered children whining that the world does not do what they think is right.
Apart from dying of stupidity, what did Rachel Corrie do? Which Palestinians did she help? You want to know a secret? The PA had a big chance to change all this, and yes asswipe, I advised a few individuals there how to do it. But blowing up kids was easier and more fun for them, so we went our seperate ways. I to will go my seperate way. Fuck you, little worm. pray to whatever god you recognize we never meet.
The next he's firing his mouth like his comrades in Iraq fire their guns when they come under attack--scattershot style.
For more information on professional "do-gooderism", read, "Arundhati Roy explains NGO's" (like Ruzicka's CIVIC) and the public relations of how they make war almost palatable and placate opposition.
If Ruzicka had been any threat to, or challenge to, let alone any real critic of, US imperialism in Iraq or elsewhere, you can bet that the US Congress and the entire corporate media would NOT be lauding her. You didn't see major US politicians or the American corporate media lauded Rachel Corrie for trying to help innocent victims.
By David Horowitz and Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | May 3, 2005
Marla Ruzicka, a 28-year-old political activist, was killed in Iraq on April 16 when a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of contractors on the airport road, blowing up the Mercedes she was in with her translator Faiz Al-Salaam. Ruzicka, whose ebullience earned her the nickname “Bubbles,” suffered burns over 90 percent of her body. Her last words, according to the medic who attended her, were, “I’m alive.”
Her tragic death was a tribute to her bravery since she knew the risks and her fate was thus almost predictable. Nine months earlier she had written in her online journal: “The ride is not pleasant. Military convoys passing every moment. Faiz and I hold our breath.” It was her third year of working the perilous epicenters of the War on Terror. She was in country on this occasion in behalf of the organization she had created a year earlier – the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), which in its practice meant civilian victims of America’s wars to bring freedom to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Yet Ruzicka was a more interesting political study than so stark a summary suggests. In the last year of her short life, she had moved away from the agendas and organizations of extreme left that had originally directed her life path to the war zones in order to establish a path of her own. In her new endeavor she was guided partly by her genuine concern for the defenseless victims of the conflict and partly by political forces that continued to exploit those concerns.
Unlike Rachel Corrie, who lost her life in Gaza serving a solidarity movement with terrorists and who consequently became a martyr for the anti-American cause, Marla Ruzicka was respected and mourned not only by the left but by supporters of the war who knew her, and even by members of the Bush administration and military whom she first harrangued and then petitioned and who ended up in a partially voluntary cooperation with her endeavors.
Sefarad, I don't know what kind of favor you've done Ruzicka by publishing Horowitz's "eulogy".
The Marla Ruzicka Story -- The *Real* Story
From Christian Parenti's book:
_THE FREEDOM: SHADOWS AND HALLUCINATIONS IN OCCUPIED IRAQ_ :paragraph at the bottom of page 55 ending at the top of page 56:
Marla Ruzicka is one of the occupation's NGO groupies. She is the type who gets 10 percent of that 10 percent that trickles down to the ground. Known for her dyed blonde hair and flashy style, Marla is talking up the fact that she leveraged $10 million from the US government so her organization CIVIC [The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict] can "aid" victims of US military action. She and CIVIC and the US occupation authorities do not use the term "compensate" because that would imply American culpability. The US government maintains that because Iraq is a war zone, its military is not legally liable when it kills innocents, and so the operative verb is "aid". I interview Marla at the Hotel Agadeer, a dive favored by Eastern European journalists and broke American freelancers. It turns out that Marla hasn't actually received $10 million; USAID captured the grant, and the money will not actually be disbursed as aid to the survivors of US military actions but will instead be spent on unspecified development projects that will _indirectly_ "aid" war victims. When I press Marla further it turns out that CIVIC is serving *ONLY FIVE FAMILIES* [caps and *'s added] who have been "negatively impacted" by US military operations.
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