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For more on our adventures & the amazing people we met in Syria, please visit my personal blog.  This is one I left there a few days ago.

We would often leave Old Damascus by hailing taxis from Bab Sharqi, which means Eastern Gate. It’s one of the seven ancient city-gates of Damascus and the one we saw every day as it was closest to the hostel. We could leave this gate by car or walk along the outside of the wall. It’s along this wall that we could reach our hostel by ladder.

Bab Sharqi is a short walk from the church
that honors the apostle Paul
(See second & third pictures here.)

This is a view across the road.

I think the sign says something about Coke being good with food. Some people boycott American products because they believe our major corporations pay high taxes and they know Israel receives billions of US tax money. They do not want to support their enemy in the slightest way so they avoid American goods.

Here is a car wash across the street from the hostel. Note the cute little yellow taxi. We rode in those nearly every day. Most all of the taxi drivers were sociable and many said one word we understood well: “Obama!” One driver asked Samer if we were sympathetic to the Arabs whereas another declared us “friendly” (because of our smiles) and wished he had a day off so he could spend it with us. He is the one who didn’t want to charge us for taking us to Anas Restaurant. (Don’t worry, we paid him.) Taxi rides were cheap in Syria and bus rides were even cheaper.

Pictures from Damascus, Syria
January/February 2009

I think it’s pretty safe to say that no one would accuse me of being a fan of Saddam Hussein.  Any leader who harms his own people and punishes erring ones by allowing sewage in their water lines is rather despicable in my book.  And don’t get me started on his playboy sons and their treatment of women.  In the beginning I was for the war in Iraq.  Perhaps I was living in my imaginary world where USA represents all that’s right in the world and we had to fight off those evil dictators and rescue the poor Iraqis.  Sure, it’ll be great to liberate Iraq.  Then those people will be free like us!  Whoo hoo….get ’em, boys!

For one thing I thought this was going to be a remove-Saddam-and-get-out deal.  NEVER did I think we’d still be there to this day.  I have been tired of the war for, oh, years now.  We quickly got to Baghdad, even found Saddam, but why are we still there?

Reading things outside of the American media has opened my eyes to some of the realities.  The imaginary world has been shattered and I’m left facing the ugly reality.  Perhaps my more enlightened Americans will berate me for this and show me where I’m wrong, and that’s all well and good. But I’m just telling it how I see it after listening to people outside my normal circle. Maybe they are feeding me a lie and I’m falling for it.  Who knows? But somehow I don’t think so.

For starters America is not making fewer terrorists by it’s preemptive wars.  No matter how we justify it, we don’t win friends by tearing up a sovereign nation.  And staying there.  For years.  If we were so wanting to truly help the Iraqis, why did we use weapons that have created so much lasting damage? Not just to buildings, but to people … I’m talking about weapons containing depleted uranium (DU) which, by the way, has not only caused a rise in birth defects and rates of cancer in Iraq, but also among our own soldiers!  So why all that just to remove Saddam from power? Did we have to leave this nasty gift for the Iraqis to deal with?  Some reports say DU can affect generations of people giving Iraqis a great reminder of what evil American WMDs can do.  We didn’t find WMDs in Iraq. They may have been there and moved elsewhere, but that’s beside the point now.  Sadly, America brought her own.

And in so doing we have given evidence of our own brand of terrorism … something that Iraq won’t soon forget. As their children are born with defects and suffer higher rates of cancer, don’t think for a minute they will be blessing the liberators from the West.  I see them instead simmering in their hatred and desiring justice.  Who will avenge them of their losses? Their shame?  And we wonder why the ranks of the terrorists grow.

Sadly, we are our own worst enemy in this (recently renamed) “war on terror.”

For more information see


The Depleted Uranium Cover-up