In a moving article from sfgate.com, Bernard S. Alpert, Ira D. Sharlip, Thomas C. Cromwell Assad A. Hassoun, write of their experience as members of a delegation of 30 American physicians representing all specialties of medicine, who met with 350 Iraqi colleagues in Baghdad in mid- February.
It was the first open professional meeting in Iraq in decades, they say. "The conference was heralded as historic, a symbol of rehabilitation after years of corruption, tyranny, conflict and devastation. Today in Iraq, a dynamic tension exists between two social forces proceeding simultaneously: one destructive, one constructive. News regarding the former flows continuously, as events are violent and heartrending. But the perspective of private-sector American citizens without government or media affiliation is conspicuously absent in the intensifying discourse. Thus, we owe it to our fellow citizens to share our experience
" The human spirit can overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Our delegation was bound to our Iraqi colleagues by an oath coined by a Greek at a time when their forebears dwelled in civilization's cradle, and our nation was in no one's imagination. We listened as the first voices of open public-policy discussion, including those of dissent, spoke freely after decades of constrained silence. Such positive developments are fragile and require nurturing.
"When the conference ended, each American physician received a plaque from our Iraqi colleagues exclaiming, "A New Hope to Contact the World." We hope the world contacts them."
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