Social and Political Commentary

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Valuing human life

...is it time for impeachment?

by Jackie Wattenberg

Life, human life, is amazing. What an incredible creation the human body is--it's a computer system, a book of memories, a garbage disposal, a power company, a poetic vision, a manufacturer of more life, an impenetrable juggler of dreams and ideas, a structure of stability, a bridge of tongues and cultures, a vacuum cleaner of wastes, a table of contents.

Each of us treasures our own life, our families, our friends, our loves, even of our pets. As some whom we love grow old, we have to accept the end of their lives, but if someone we love dies when young, we are desolate, this is so unfair.

We are grateful, then, to those heroes who save our lives, who create serums, cures for many of our ills, doctors who bring life-saving efforts to those dear to us, to persons who save us from accidents, those who devised and those who decreed the wearing of seat belts. Well, who wouldn't save lives when he could?

Presidents, that's who, defense secretaries, makers of weapons to kill and maim. All who have commanded unnecessary wars--and what wars are necessary? Only when a nation has to defend itself against an invading power, such as the ghastly Nazi power in World War II. Bur our country, much as we love its mountains, rivers and lakes, handsome cities and gentle small towns, has started more wars since the end of WWII in 1945 than any other country. Do we approve this record?

President Bush has sunk to a humiliating low level of popularity in the last year--the seemingly unsolvable Iraq war has taken its toll. But for more than two years of war, our bombs killing thousands of adults and children, crushing whole families to death in our invasion of a small country that had never harmed us, we supported the president and his destructive acts of war.

Well, yes, many Americans had been protesting the war. No WMD's, it turned out--but even if there had been, don't most countries have weapons of mass destruction? India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, Russia, China, England--and us! We have more than any other country in the world--and we have used them--eight--8--times since WWII. Needlessly, Cruelly. Expensively.

Does Bush Stand alone is such carnage? Ah, no, many before him. His Democratic counterpart, Lyndon Johnson, also flew our bombers half way around the world to the backward, unmilitarized country of Vietnam, killing, said then Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, 3,200,000 people in their jungles, humble homes and small towns, dropping burning napalm on little girls, Agent Orange to defoliate their woods of beautiful trees...how could we do this? America, that so much of the world looked up to for its freedom, democratic rights, its generosity to many smaller nations, its great movies and entertainers that nations around the world enjoyed?

Five years after the end of WWII, when President Roosevelt and Britain's Winston Churchill said we "must have no more wars--but settle our problems diplomatically--why did Truman wage a costly war against North Korea? Had North Korea attacked us? No. About a million lives lost, ours and others. Why did Reagan attack a tiny little Caribbean island, Grenada? Why did he decide to kill people struggling for a better life in Nicaragua after that poor nation finally ousted Somoza, a Saddam-like leader we had supported for years? Not wanting to lose American lives, Regan hired mercenaries from nearby countries, supplied the uniforms, guns and bombs that killed 35,000 innocent people who had done nothing against us.

Bush Senior collected a coalition of other nations to push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991, a short war in which he bombed water purification plants and sewage plants, then with Tony Blair forbidding the import of chlorine to purify the water--so a half million elderly and a half million children, most vulnerable to impure water, died. But Bush and his advisors, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, did not think of invading Iraq, knowing the devastation that could occur with the Sunni, Shiites and Kurds.

But Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Libby, Douglas Feith and other members of the Project for a New American Century had been wanting this war since Clinton refused their request in 1998. Bush listened to them instead of his father--and is now plunging in polls, still defending his war even with 3200 Americans dead, 25,000 maimed or wounded, 650,000 Iraqis dead.  Is this acceptable?

Human lives, precious, complicated creations, weakened, maimed, dead. Not from natural causes, accidents--but deliberate methods of killing and tearing bodies apart through more and more powerful bombs and missiles.

Did General and Republican President Eisenhower have it right? Is it the Military Industrial Complex that wants these unnecessary wars to make fortunes for themselves? Also gain control of oil? Also, to set up military bases--14 new ones in Iraq since the war started--for extended control and military presence? Are these material effects more important than the lives and health of our young soldiers?

How could Lyndon Johnson have added up millions of deaths--58,000 Americans dead, thousands more still getting treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder--and not have been impeached? No action at all against him in our longest war, almost 10 years? How could Reagan have waged a mostly secret war that killed 36 thousand innocent Nicaraguans and not been impeached?

Don't our senators and congressmen care about losses of human lives?

Since the end of WWII, only two presidents have waged no wars--Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter. How long will the American people permit these needless, tragic wars? Do we care about human life, even our own American lives? If Bill Clinton was impeached for a foolish but non-lethal action, why isn't George Bush impeached for the deaths of more than 3,200 young Americans, and 23,410 wounded? And for killing more than 100,000 Iraqi human beings, plus paving the way for the Iraq civil war that has hiked the total to 650,000 lives?

Is a human life valuable? Are lives to be nurtured, cured, helped, enjoyed? Or will we allow our powerful, willful presidents to continue the cruel wasting of our young lives and innocents in other countries?

Impeachment could be a deterrent, a warning--hold your fire! Do as Europe is doing now--settle problems diplomatically. If there is no problem, do not create a horrible and costly one.

One that provokes anger and hatred and stirs desire for revenge through terrorism.

With peace, and billions now wasted on war, we could do so much more for our own people, and be a leader for human rights around the world. One murder brings its perpetrator to prison and in some states a death sentence. For thousands, millions of deaths--nothing? "Thou shalt not kill" is in every Bible. Why do we allow it year after presidential year?


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