I had the privilege of serving during the initial phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom as an orthopedic surgeon in a U. S. Army Forward Surgical Team. We traveled at the front with various brigades treating, not only wounded coalition forces, but Iraqi civilians, soldiers, Republican and Special Republican Guard, as well as Fedayeen terrorists. Initially, we treated the wounded in our canvas surgical tent. Then we took over abandoned buildings as small hospitals. As the war progressed, we made unescorted humanitarian missions to homes, villages, hospitals, and camps. We came to know the people of Iraq on a very unique and personal level. My photographs tell the story of what I saw, which is much different that what generally was portrayed in the American media.
People are people the world over. Most people just want to wake up in the morning and have a normal day with their loved ones. Essential to realization of that universal desire is freedom. It is not human nature to live oppressed in any form, whether by an abusive individual or a totalitarian regime. I saw hope in the smiling faces of most Iraqi people we met, even in many of those who had lost loved ones.
History will judge the decision to invade Iraq in 2003; that is not the purpose of my photographs. What I saw in Iraq was the universal human condition and I saw that these very foreign people, even the Mujahadeen, were people just like me. What drives people to do what they do? How does hate rise from deep inside us? Are we all capable of hate and terror? How can an assassin be kind? One entire group of people we took care of, some of the kindest and most highly educated people I have ever known, were part of a large organization with heavy weapons, recognized by the U. S. State Department as a terrorist organization, yet they shared meals with me and let me use their shower room. They let me photograph them.