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Dear Mr. President

The following letter was sent today to U.S. President George Walker Bush, by Maxine Nash, one of James Loney's Christian Peacemaker Teams co-workers in Iraq. Maxine is from Waukon, Iowa and has served with CPT since 2002.

The following letter was sent today to U.S. President George Walker Bush, by Maxine Nash, one of James Loney's Christian Peacemaker Teams co-workers in Iraq.

Maxine is from Waukon, Iowa and has served with CPT since 2002.

She has worked for the organization in Iraq since December, 2003.

The illustration selected by to accompany her letter is a detail from The Letter-Writer Surprised, painted around 1662 by the Dutch Baroque-era painter Gabriel Metsu.

************************* Dear Mr. President:

My name is Maxine Nash, and I work with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq.

I have been coming to Iraq since June, 2003.

I tried to watch your speech on television.

I could not because there was no electricity at my home outside the green zone in Baghdad at that time, as happens frequently here.

Some of your comments on why the United States should not withdraw from Iraq were posted in news articles on the Internet.

You said: "We would abandon our Iraqi friends and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep its word .... We would hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us and the global terrorist movement would be emboldened and more dangerous than ever before." I find that I must respectfully disagree with your assessment of the situation.

In conversations with my Iraqi friends, it is already apparent to them that America has not kept its word.

Promises of a better life without a cruel dictator, improved living conditions, and a more stable nation have not materialized.

In fact, they tell me this is the worst they have ever seen here in living memory.

They have lost faith in anything that is said by the American government.

Beginning the removal of troops would indicate that we do have their interests at heart instead of our own and that we can be trusted to do what is right.

Regarding the emboldening of the terrorist movement, I believe that those in that movement are encouraged rather than dissuaded by the continued presence of Multinational Forces in Iraq.

Again, my friends here tell me that they believe quite firmly that the violence would lessen if there were not the continuing provocative presence of foreign forces on their soil.

I believe that human beings respond more fully to acknowledgement and redress of their legitimate grievances rather than to force.

There are currently four members of our group kidnapped here in Iraq.

We as an organization have choices before us regarding this situation — to put our faith in the power of change through dialogue and understanding or to advocate the use of force to free our friends.

Our principles and our beliefs have guided us to the first choice.

My wishes for this Christmas season include the release of my four friends and other captives in Iraq, that troops stationed here will be reunited with their families soon, and that Iraqis will be able to find the peace that has eluded their country for so long.

Most sincerely,

Maxine Nash Christian Peacemaker Teams - Iraq

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