March 20, 2013

Legacy of Shame

The 10-year anniversary of the Iraq War passed with minimal comment. Peter Baker, writing in the New York Times, said, "The president joked about wearing a green tie for a belated St. Patrick's Day celebration. Congress noisily focused on whether spending cuts would force the cancellation of the White House Easter egg roll. Cable news debated whether a show about young women has too much sex in it. But on one topic, there was a conspiracy of silence: Republicans and Democrats agreed that they did not really want to talk about the Iraq war."

Not surprising. The Democrats have plenty of blame to share. They went along with it. They gave Bush and Cheney a free hand to destroy a defenseless people. They might have stopped it. Few of them even tried. It was not hard to see that the drive to war on Iraq was a fraud, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. But Bush wanted to be a war president. Cheney wanted to carve up the Iraqi oil fields to distribute the goodies among his friends in the oil industry. It appeared that nothing would stop Bush and the neocons from attacking Iraq. The biggest anti-war demonstration in history took place on the eve of the attacks. People marched all over the world. But it made no apparent difference. The ones who may have had the power to stop it, people like Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, just rolled over and went along with it. Not many have much to be proud of.

The New York Times, in spite of the quality of reporting quoted above, has its share of blame for the catastrophe too, with its fraudulent reporting by Judith Miller, using information fed to her directly by the corrupt Ahmad Chalabi, who gave her false information to promote his own agenda. As the undisputed head of the newspaper world, The New York Times' reporting gave some of the strongest support to the false claim that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction. Later the paper had to admit its error of publishing false information fed to Miller by the criminal Chalabi and apologize.

Dennis Kucinich on the 10th anniversary of the war's beginning proposed that Americans demand a truth and reconciliation commission such as South Africa had after Apartheid fell. "We must demand that America, our nation, establish a fully empowered Commission of Truth and Reconciliation, so that those responsible for misleading us into annihilating innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere be brought forward to a public accountability in a formal process of fact-finding, of inquiry, of public testimony, of admission, of confession. There is no other way out of the moral cul-de-sac in which reside the monstrous crimes of mass murder, torture, kidnapping and rendition other than atonement."

I think he is right. But it's also very far fetched to think that such a thing could happen in America today. But hey, not long before the Berlin Wall came down, almost no one believed it would happen in their lifetime. So there is always hope. Americans now live in such a fog of fraudulence and lies it's hard to see straight.

Meanwhile, the same shadowy forces that seemed to stay in place as Bush handed power to Obama are trying to cook up another war, this time in Iran, and this one would no doubt be even more disastrous than the one in Iraq. The country spent three or four trillion dollars at least in Iraq, nearly bankrupted America's middle class, though the top .01 percent is doing better than ever.

Besides the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed by our "rescue," the depleted uranium US forces scattered throughout the country has left a horrible legacy of birth defects, a term that does not come near to evoking the horror it refers to.

Thomas Young, a veteran of Iraq who is now in hospice, wrote a Last Letter to Bush and Cheney "on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq, ... the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and ... those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives." It's probably the best statement we'll get of the outrage piled upon outrage represented by the Iraq War and all the other Bush disasters that we are now living with.

And I quote: "I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans -- my fellow veterans -- whose future you stole. Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage."

It will take a long time for us to be able to do a true reckoning of the damage of that senseless, horrible war.

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