Tattoo as Therapy and Testimony

It’s still a little red and raw in this photo, but here is my new tattoo:


When I worked reconstruction and, because of the very large amounts of cash I possessed, conducted political efforts in Iraq in 2004, my chief engineer, an Iraqi about my age, very bright and my friend, devised a seal for our operations. The Iraqi date palm with two crossed shovels or a crossed shovel and a hammer, I can’t clearly remember. Symbolic of rebuilding and hope in a new Iraq, the reality of  what came was destruction and horror. So an ax is more appropriate and a blood drop or a tear drop, I’m not sure which, is necessary.

I have no idea if my friend is still alive and certainly I know too many who are no longer living or whose lives in Iraq have been subjugated and imprisoned by terror and suffering. Ten years later and it seems to be all that matters to me.

Others have done it and say it helps, so by writing what is inside of me on my body, telling essentially who I am and what haunts me, I hope to find some relief and keep testimony with the broken and shattered lives of people who were my friends and, more importantly, believed in what we had promised them and have had to live with what we actually delivered to them.

Thanks to Ray Alexander at Blue Flame Tattoo in Raleigh for the design, the tattoo work and the therapy.



2 thoughts on “Tattoo as Therapy and Testimony

  1. The rising confluence of Islamic extremism and global terrorism can be seen in two ways: 1. fearfully 2. need for adjustments to U.S. foreign policy

    In terms of fear, the rise of modern global jihadism is directly linked to the initial U.S. support of the Afghan mujahedeen vs. Soviets and then the eventual abandonment of the mujahedeen to a post-Soviet Afghanistan. The U.S. intelligence community essentially created a new class of warriors in that conflict today name ‘foreign fighters’ in the build-up to bleed the Soviets in Afghanistan. It was no secret American officials provided funds and technical training in the art of conflict and war to Moslems who were willing to help the U.S. bleed the Soviets in Afghanistan. I testified in 1990 before CSCE that the U.S. is not doing enough to control and eliminate the monster it had created. My thoughts feel on deaf ears.

    Today, ISIS is very likely a creation and consequence of American involvement also. It’s hard to understand the loathing and hatred – and ingredients to counter it – unless you walk a mile in the shoes (feet) of a Talib or someone within ISIS who loathes the U.S. With an open and unconceived mind, instead of interrogations, Americans should ask a person who loathes the U.S. why they in fact loathe the U.S. Then the list of ingredients to counter ISIS emerges – to counter hate you MUST use love and spread the money. Identity, fear, and competition for resources is not the solution – these are in fact challenges to a united and globalized humanity. Otherwise, fires will only start more fires. Right now the fire lives in their minds. Don’t let the fire spread to their hearts – otherwise it will engulf the planet in hate.


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