9 03 2007

I was cruising along in my car the other day, listening to the competition—NPR. They were telling the story of Jennifer Harris, a perhaps unique female Marine helicopter pilot, who had died when her helicopter was shot down while evacuating wounded soldiers. The profile that NPR ran characterized her as a truly extraordinary human being—not just motivated, but smart, compassionate and outgoing—and now very, very dead. I started crying so hard I just about had to pull over to the side of the road. Yes, I know she was a Marine, and I’m a pacifist. She was also a human being.

Tears of rage, tears of grief—because here was one of America’s best and brightest, killed just five days before she was due to leave Iraq. We are entering a very challenging time, when we are going to need all the good hearted, intelligent, clear-thinking people we can muster. To lose Jennifer Harris in a war that “should have never been authorized, and should have never been waged, and on which we’ve now spent $400 billion, and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted” isn’t just a tragedy, it’s a crime.

I am quoting Barak Obama here. Senator Obama gets—not the truth in strange places, but the “profile in cowardice” award for backtracking on that remark. Those three thousand deaths (and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths we so conveniently sweep under the rug) and four million Iraqi refugees are the “collateral damage” from criminal fraud at the highest levels of the US government. None of Bush’s stated reasons for invading Iraq have turned out to be valid. Saddam was not a threat to anyone outside his country—the country Don Rumsfield and friends helped him control. There were no WMDs. The ones the US government gave him in the eighties were long gone. Establishing “democracy” in the Middle East was a bunch of hooey. Democracy cannot be imposed from the outside.

Our government’s political meddling has opened the way for Iraq to become a radical Shiite state like its neighbor, Iran—much to the dismay of Iraq’s other neighbor, Saudi Arabia. Putting more American troops into this situation is like pouring more gasoline on a fire in an attempt to put it out. Our army is in a situation it can’t fix, and to call insisting that it stay there “supporting the troops” is totally hypocritical, especially coming from an administration that has been repeatedly called to task for failure to supply our soldiers adequately, and for cutting back on the benefits and care available to injured veterans. The US military has been sent up in a box kite called Iraq, and to call insisting that it stay there and be shredded “supporting the troops” is another Orwellism from an administration that increasingly seems to conduct business in Newspeak.

In another Orwellian development, the Bush junta continues to rattle its saber at Iran over its alleged support of Shi’ite insurgents in Iraq, as if nobody noticed that the Iraqi government is Shi’a dominated and the Iranians have nothing to gain from destabilizing it. Most of the violence comes from Sunni groups, who are supported by Saudi Arabia—but the Saudis are our friends—or sell us lots of oil, which in the junta’s view is the same thing—so we’re not going to fuss at them. Until we dominate Iran’s oil just as handily as we control the oil in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Iran will be the enemy.

Now the Democrats are creating the appearance of moving to withdraw US troops from Iraq. I say, “creating the appearance” because they are talking very specifically about pulling US combat troops out—the operational word here is “combat.” The US has established five very permanent bases in Iraq—four heavily fortified military bases and the likewise heavily fortified “green zone.” (Did they call it that just to smear our party?–but, I digress…) Any “withdrawal” that leaves these bases intact will not be seen by anyone in the Arab world as a withdrawal. It just positions the Dems to be scratching their heads in a year and asking, “why do they hate our freedom?” We have no right to make free with their country, their resources, and their way of life. That’s called “imperialism.” That’s what they hate.

We need to admit that occupying Iraq was as much an act of aggression as the Nazi occupation of Poland. We need to bring our war criminals to justice and make them pay the price for this oil war. American taxpayers should not have to bear the financial burden of the Bush junta’s calumny. Not that we won’t paying the price for their crimes in other ways even if we donate all of the combined treasuries of Halliburton, Exxon, and Shell to the Iraqi rebuilding effort, but you’ve gotta draw a line somewhere.

And Obama doesn’t seem to be the man to draw the line. He retreated from his honest statement about the lives of young Americans that have been wasted in Mr. Bush’s oil gambit. Furthermore, although he waxed eloquent over the evils of the Military Commissions Act, he has yet to cosponsor the bill that could repeal it. On the domestic front, despite his populist veneer, he has not endorsed universal availability of medicaid, although this simple solution to the insurance/health industry crisis is obvious to most Americans.

Why is Obama, like Bush, looking more and more like he’s all hat, no cattle? Just like Bush, it’s because of the money. The supercharged, superstar atmosphere that has been created around the Presidential race means it takes lots of money to be a player, and the only way to get lots of money is to get it from those who already have it—defense industries and insurance companies—thus insuring that there will be no radical new ideas introduced into the presidential debate. It insures that America will fail. It insures that Jennifer Harris died in vain. I put my fingers against the glass, and bowed my head, and cried….

Sen. Obama, there was no need to apologize. We ARE wasting our young people’s lives in Iraq. Iraq was not a problem until George Bush made it one. His obsession with Iraq has diverted our nation’s attention from the real issues we should be addressing: an environment that is spinning out of control; a dangerously selfish obsession with material security; an overdrawn and inefficient energy supply; loss of national and local self-sufficiency; and lack of accessible health care coupled with a media-induced ignorance of good lifestyle habits, to name the top few. These, not some ephemeral “victory in Iraq,” are the missions we need to accomplish.

music: Richard Thompson, “’Dad’s Gonna Kill Me




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