Social and Political Commentary

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Where are we headed?

... Are we really seduced by war?

by Jackie Wattenberg

Sometimes we enjoy taking a close-up picture of our lives,  our own town, our own friends and family, our own activities.

Sometimes we can’t help taking a distant look at our country, the world, our country’s position in that world.  

My own close-up, senior-situated life is full of music, writing, teaching, eating out as often as possible, a good life. Yet I can’t help turning off the good music station for C-Span or talk shows for that dangerous long-distance look. What is my  country up to?

We all know that we’re involved in a nasty war. Our president and his advisors are smiling with satisfaction that things in Iraq are going very well, that democracy is planted there, the people are pleased with it, our soldiers serving in Iraq have high morale, and the world is smiling at us.

This rosy picture is presented by much of the media, but a life time of protesting our many wars can’t accept this picture, can’t help prickling at calm, safe faces of our leaders. Behind them I see the mangled bodies of those our leaders have sent to kill and be killed, those happy families in Iraq who experienced what I have never had to - the horror of enormous thundering bombs exploding on their homes, their children, themselves.

“We’re at war,” the president keeps reminding us, “war on terrorism.” But ah, there’s the rub! Iraq and old Saddam had nothing to do with our attack on 9/11, President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld have said this, and Congressional members have proven it true. So why inflict this horror upon innocent people? Now the count of our own losses is more than 1600, about 12,000 maimed and handicapped for life - and more than 100,000 Iraqi women, children and men bombed, crushed or shot to death. How many wounded? No figures available, our government doesn’t keep record of the Iraqis killed and wounded. The president and his men have not shown any knowledge or distress about such tragedies for which they are responsible.

Why this war, if no connection to terrorism against us? There is an answer - the Project for the New American Century, members of which went to President Clinton in 1998 and asked him to invade Iraq and take out Saddam. With no actions against us, of course Clinton declined. For many years members of this neoconservative group have yearned to remake the Middle East for American interests, interest in its oil, its waterways - the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, its locations amid other valuable lands. Okay, who were these ambitious men?

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Douglass Feith, Dan Quayle. And Jeb Bush - governor of Florida and the President’s brother - was it he who persuaded new president George to encircle himself with all of these aggressive men?  Very possibly. Not his father’s advisors who opposed this Iraq War - James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, but men who have been chomping at the bit to take over Iraq for years. And are they finished with just the Afghan War and this Iraq War?

In the middle of the Iraq War’s first onslaught, Project for the New American Century Spokesman William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, said with a nice smile on TV news: “When we finish this war in Iraq, we have to go into several other countries in the Middle East and do the very same things.”

No wonder so many fear an attack on Iran, maybe Syria too - what of North Korea?

While Europe has turned its back on wars, and Japan maintains a law against it, why are we still so easily scrambling into the horror of war? “I hate war,” said General and Republican President Eisenhower, “as only  a man who has been there can, who has seen its brutality, futility, its stupidity!” President John Kennedy said: “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind!”  

Winston Churchill at the end of WWII said, “We must have no more wars, we must settle our differences diplomatically and peaceably!” Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” Benjamin Franklin said,” There never was a bad peace or a good war.”

We must realize that we are hostile occupiers in a country that did us no harm, a country, like all of the others we have attacked, that is smaller, weaker, poorer than we are. If Muslims attacked us on 9/11, have we lowered terrorism expectations by killing 100,000 Muslims in Iraq who never harmed us? Or have we, as has been often pointed out, incited more terrorists by bombarding Iraq, a mostly Muslim country? We have made Falluja a wasteland, almost total destruction where its residents must fear to enter.

Americans and anyone seen working with Americans are targeted for being killed. Our soldiers don’t have a chance of winning friends there and being safe. We must admit that we are unwelcome occupiers, and urge an international group of  wise peace seekers to attempt an approach toward peace with the varied factions

Author Andrew Bacevich says that Americans are seduced by war, both liberals and conservatives enthralled with our military power.

If we citizens don’t urge peace and withdrawal of our unwelcome troops, abandoning our 14 military bases, getting our 1300 members of our embassy - the world’s biggest - out of that war-torn nation, what horror will happen next? To the struggling in the Middle East - and  to us?

July 1, 2005

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