I recently received a questionnaire from "Friends of Hillary", a group that presumably is working towards Hillary Clinton's expected campaign for President in '08. It was a survey about "the critical issues our nation needs to address in the coming year". I answered the questions, many of them slanted against the current Republican agenda. Curiously there was no question regarding the Iraq War. At the end there was a space for Additional Comments, and I wrote the following:
"As long as Hillary Clinton continues to support the war in, and occupation of Iraq, I will not even consider supporting or voting for her. If she comes to her senses and/or finds the courage to call for the immediate withdrawal of the US Military from Iraq, I would seriously consider contributing to her campaign and voting for her for President. I am extremely angry that she and almost all members of Congress have failed Americans, Iraqis, and the entire world by allowing the beginning and the perpetuation of this illegal, immoral, ill-conceived, and unnecessary war of aggression, which has wasted tens of thousands of live, hundreds of billions of dollars, and has increased acts of terrorism and made America and the world less safe. Shame on her. Get us out of Iraq now, for everyone's sake including her own."
I have no idea what you think of Hillary Clinton. Considering her as a politician, I like her and dislike her at the same time. But my message to her is really the same to everyone who is already in, or will run for Congress. Oh yes, and the office of President.
And regarding the idea of immediate and complete withdrawal of the US Military from Iraq, here is my humble and steadfast opinion, without benefit of all of the confidential "intelligence" that the President, his Cabinet, and Congress have, but with benefit of my own intelligence, sufficient knowledge of historical facts, and the use of common sense.
The idea that an immediate withdrawal would be irresponsible and precipitate a chaotic mess is mind-boggling. It is a chaotic mess NOW. It has been a chaotic mess since we invaded, and is getting WORSE. It is actually irresponsible to STAY. That is because OUR MILITARY (AND CORPORATE)PRESENCE IS NOT THE SOLUTION, IT IS THE SINGLE BIGGEST PROBLEM. Of course if we withdraw, violence and some form of civil war will almost certainly continue. But a HUGE and ENORMOUS amount of resistance, hatred, violence, death, and destruction will immediately disappear, evaporate, melt away. And yes, Iraq may even split into three countries. But it doesn't really matter. At the end of World War I, Great Britain forcibly stitched together three disparate Turkish provinces to create Iraq. So here we are.
There ARE things we must do that ARE responsible and WILL help. In addition to the withdrawal of our military, we must remove our corporate presence. We must provide funds for IRAQIS to rebuild their infrastructure THEMSELVES(water, electricity, roads, hospitals . . .) WHICH WE DESTROYED. It will help give them jobs, self-determination, and an economy again. We must provide funds and maybe peripheral support for IRAQIS to secure their own country THEMSELVES. It is not our country. And if we really want to test and respect democracy there, take a popular vote whether Iraq wants the US Military and US corporations to remain in Iraq. A recent poll showed that 45% of Iraq thinks it's OK to kill American troops. It's easy to believe that at least another 6% want us out, even if they don't want us dead. And on Monday 100 Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish leaders called for a timetable for withdrawal.
There is one thing we must do in Iraq ourselves, and not leave to the Iraqi people. We must clean up the radioactivity from the (illegal) depleted uranium weapons and the unexploded (illegal) cluster bombs we have used. Unfortunately, regarding the (illegal) chemical weapons (white phosphorous) we used in Fallujah, all of their agonizing death is already done.
This war was wrong the moment it was conceived. It was a war of choice and aggression where no threat existed. I believe that the actual and mostly unstated reasons for this war include one or all of the following:
As a form of terrorism itself. That is, to intimidate not only Iraq, but the entire world through the use of extreme violence ("shock and awe").
To funnel US tax dollars and Iraqi oil revenue into the pockets of US defense corporations and contractors.
As some form of completion for Bush Sr.'s "failure" to remove Hussein during the Gulf War, and/or payback for Hussein's attempted assassination of Bush Sr.
Control of oil. (obvious)
Expansion of US economic dominance in the world (Have you noticed that one of the war architects, Paul Wolfowitz, is now head of the World Bank?).
To maintain military presence in the Middle East, knowing we needed to remove our bases from Saudi Arabia.
Some twisted idea about cultural (American) or religious (Judeo-Christian)superiority.
(Insert your own suspected or known reason here)
I could go on and on. I could write a book. People HAVE written books about all of this. And at this point I can't really care if anyone agrees with me or not. I can't really care if I offend anyone. If any of this makes anyone uncomfortable, that's a good thing. I can only say, in fact I MUST say, what I TRULY believe regarding this war. I'm tired of my recent silence, and inaction. I'm tired of anyone who is not speaking up about this, and applaud everyone who has said or done something. If you support this war and occupation I think you are deluded, willfully ignorant and/or temporarily insane. Remember that definition of insanity as: Trying the same thing again and again and expecting a different result? If I hear about one more Operation Iron Fist, Iron Hammer, Iron Grip, Iron Saber, Iron Promise (all of these are real), I will scream. Or whatever they might call it next . . . Operation Stainless Steel Cookware, Operation Aluminum Foil or Operation Titanium Testosterone. It is all self-defeating, creating more (legitimate) resistance than it can crush. On Monday the same body of 100 Iraqi leaders stated the following regarding the occupation. . . "national resistance is a legitimate right of all nations."
Silence literally equals death here. And all of us who have supported, who continue to support this insane war are complicit. And doing and saying nothing is the same as supporting it.
On the evening the war began I remember driving on the freeway, wondering, bewildered - "Why isn't EVERYONE doing EVERYTHING they can to stop this." And so here we are two and a half years later after we drove off that cliff, and the precipitous fall continues. Each day we sit silent and inactive, in our insulated, comfortable, busy little world, one, two or three Americans are killed, and countless Iraqis. And incalculable damage continues, to America's standing in the world and our identity as a people. Don't tell me about how Hussein is gone. Fine enough. But at what cost and for what benefit. Not to mention that in less than two years, half as many Iraqis have been killed as Hussein was responsible for in 26 years. And we have been torturing Iraqis, as he did. And we used chemical weapons to kill Iraqis, as he did. And we are occupying the same palace that he did. Two things he didn't do, which we have, is to destroy the infrastructure and the economy of Iraq. What haven't we destroyed there? And we just flew past the 2000 Americans killed and less than a month later are at 2100. Before too long we'll surpass the 3000 killed in the Trade Center.
At one point I had an aunt tell my brother not to worry about the war because - "There will always be wars." It made me ill. Only people who know they won't die in war say that. And a friend who I graduated from high school with told me " I don't much care about the daily rate of death." I replied - "As long as you¹re not in it." It confounds me how people I've respected and loved could not or cannot see through this sham. I have no problem with a justified, defensive war. The Iraq War has never been either.
I've also grown very tired of the "support our troops" mantra. Even the one that I've been an advocate of - "Support our troops. Bring them home." Sounds good enough, except it's not. Here's my new stance. Someone needs to say this - "I support our troops who refuse to fight in the Iraq War." With due sorrow and sympathy for those young people in the military who are thoroughly brainwashed. But even within the "obey all orders" mandate of the military, soldiers are not obligated to follow orders that violate law. For example the use of illegal weapons and the use of torture. And, lets see. The entire war violates international law. It is an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation. So I support troops who have the honor, courage, duty, sanity, and moral backbone to walk away from this war. It is also the most patriotic thing they can do, although I am tired of blind and misguided patriotism, as much as I am of blind religious fervor (any religion).
I've tried lots of ineffective things to oppose the war. I've written letters to the editor, participated in peace marches, openly refused to pay the military portion of my income taxes, spoken out in public at the local IRS office, signed petitions, talked and written letters to Congress people. I don't know. What does one person need to do to make a difference? Go on a fast in front of the White House or the Capitol until we withdraw? Just an idea.
Have a nice Thanksgiving everyone.
PS - Here are a few quotes to ponder from two great Republicans. And just a reminder that the most important thing needed to salvage our great country, is that campaigns at every level of government must be publicly financed.
In the short term, impeachment is a really great idea.
Eisenhower: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Eisenhower: "Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal
Eisenhower: "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."
Lincoln: "The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of war. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces,as public enemies, all that even question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies. the Southern Army in front of me and the financial institutions at the rear. The latter is my greatest foe."
Lincoln: "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. ... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."