Texans on the Tigris - Texan, Christians Counter “Bush Doctrine” in Iraq

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While President George W. Bush relaxes at his ranch in Crawford far from the conflict in Iraq, another Texan is preparing to enter the war zone for a third time. Charlie Jackson, a sixth-generation Texan, will be traveling to Iraq as a member of a Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) delegation in late September.

While President George W. Bush relaxes at his ranch in Crawford far from the conflict in Iraq, another Texan is preparing to enter the war zone for a third time.

Charlie Jackson, a sixth-generation Texan, will be traveling to Iraq as a member of a Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) delegation in late September. CPT has maintained a continuous presence in Iraq since before the invasion of 2003 and delegations participate in activities throughout Iraq to demonstrate the power of faith-based peacemaking, even in the most violent of areas.

With a slogan of “Getting in the Way” these peacemakers actively contest the presumptions of war by providing encouragement for individuals and communities experiencing violence, challenging violations of human rights, and promoting active nonviolence as a means of settling disputes. CPT is also active in Colombia, Israel/Palestine, and the US/Mexico border.

Mr. Jackson is an international technology consultant and father of two teenagers who is active in the Austin high-tech community. He serves as a “peace ambassador” for Texans for Peace, a non-profit organization he founded in 1993 after Jackson traveling to the war zones in Bosnia. As the largest peace and social justice organization in Texas, Texans for Peace provides a counterpoint to the stereotypical image of Texans.

Jackson has been an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq and the management of rebuilding efforts. During his last trip to Iraq, in 2003, Jackson was eating Thanksgiving dinner with Iraqi friends when President Bush arrived in Baghdad. “Too bad it (the President's visit) was only a 'photo op' and he didn't take the time to actually visit any of the country and meet the people here,” Jackson reported in the Houston Chronicle.

Earlier that year, before the war had commenced, Jackson traveled to Washington to challenge the Texas Congressional delegation to travel to Iraq and learn about the country before committing troops – and the lives of young Texans – to the impending war. No congresspersons took him up on his offer.

Jackson has used his professional knowledge to provide analyses of the rebuilding and stabilization efforts. Even before the insurgency solidified, he was warning military leaders and policy makers of the need to focus on economic development projects that affected ordinary Iraqis rather than solely on the multi-billion dollar projects run by KBR and others. He wrote that “Street-level economic development is the lone key to rebuilding Iraq and repairing the economy, stabilizing the political situation, and restoring security” but warned that with the military in charge, instead of civilians, most efforts would likely fail.

Charlie knows that dangers that he will experience, especially since the team will be resides and travels exclusively outside of the “Green Zone” military areas. He was in Australia when former-hostage Douglas Wood arrived in Sydney after being rescued in Baghdad on June 15. Jackson said that he continues to be concerned that members of his team might be injured, killed or kidnapped – one member was killed during an auto accident in 2003 – but that he is optimistic that he and the other delegates can make a difference.

“We help provide a different view of America, one that is brave yet humble, determined but also thoughtful,” says Jackson. He adds that because CPT has direct experience visiting with Iraqis, U.S. soldiers, government officials, and religious leaders, they can help provide a more truth-filled account of what is going on in Iraq and help Americans better understand the war.

“Folk say 'somebody' ought to do something. I remind them that they, too, are somebody and, in the word of Gandhi, need to be the change they want to see in the world,” says this Texan on the Tigris. Additional Information on Texans for Peace and the Iraq trip can be found on the organization's website: http://www.texansforpeace.org or their antiwar website http://www.texansforpeace.org/endthewar .

About Texans for Peace

Texans for Peace (http://www.texansforpeace.org) is a statewide non-profit organization for Texans who believe in peace and social justice. Headquartered in Austin, Texans for Peace provides programs, education, and action on a wide range of issues while at the time working to strengthen peace and nonviolence throughout the state. Although the organization primarily focuses on local issues, Texans for Peace also represents the face of “friendship” (the state motto of Texas) throughout the U.S. and the world. The organization is entirely staffed by volunteers and funded through donations from individuals.

About Charlie Jackson

Charlie Jackson is a sixth-generation Texan who volunteers in social justice and peacemaking when he isn't busy building technology companies. His international peace activities have taken him to Bosnia, Guatemala, and Iraq. He recently returned from his second peace delegation to Iraq with the Christian Peacemaker Teams (http://www.cpt.org), a multi-religious peace organization headquartered in Chicago. He is the founder of Texans for Peace, and supports other national and regional peace organizations.

Mr. Jackson has served in a variety of public capacities beginning with an early career as a congressional staff member and continuing as an economic development professional and entrepreneur. He is active in the Austin and San Antonio hi-tech communities and has founded, and co-founded, several technology companies. Jackson holds a BA in Government from the University of Texas and an MS in Technology Commercialization from UT's prestigious IC2 Institute

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