The Broad is Back!

March 19, 2008

Time flies when you’re having fun–five years in

Filed under: heros,military,New Broads,protest,soldiers — by maggiec @ 2:09 pm

Those of you who read the original Broads know that I’ve been against the war since before it started.  And today marks the fifth anniversary of the invasion into Iraq.  The grey freezing rain outside is Nature’s fitting commentary on the state of my country.

This morning I was at the gym when President Bush gave his “important” speech on the war.  It was being carried live by CNN.  My blood was boiling, and not because of the elliptical machine.  I try very hard to respect the office of the presidency even if I don’t agree with the man in the office.  But I wanted to smack that smug grin off his face.  Even before the speech started, there he was, grinning like a monkey.  I wanted to vomit.  I just went looking for a picture to share with you, but I couldn’t find one.   Guess only the lucky people who watched live got to see the grinning.  In all of the news reports there’s one or two different shots, but the president is trying to look serious.

So, what has this war accomplished?  Saddam Hussein is no longer in Iraq.  That’s good.  But do the ends justify the means?  The war broke international law and the president lied to Congress to get the war pushed through.  Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.  That was Al-Qaeda.  But in today’s speech, Bush said, “The answers are clear to me: Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision, and this is a fight America can and must win.”  I thought the war was about Osama bin-Laden and his terror organization.  Who changed the objective without telling me?

But I will admit, getting rid of Saddam wasn’t a bad thing.  And if you believe that the ends justify the means, then the war has been a success.  I also believe that democracy can not be thrust on a people.  They have to grasp for it.  Change must come from within.  Americans rebelled against the British.  The French helped, but they didn’t say, OK, we’ve decided the time is ripe for your democracy.  The Indians kicked out the British when they’d had enough.  The Irish kicked out the British when the people were tired of the oppression.  Well, they tried to kick out the British, and they did from a good part of the country.  You get my point.

What about those means?  According to Reuter’s report on today’s speech, there are currently about 160,000 American troops in Iraq.   Nearly 4000 American soldiers have died.  During WW II, approximately 408,500 soldiers were killed.  That’s a huge difference, of course, but WWII was a bigger war. During the nine years we were in Vietnam, approximately 58,000 were killed.  So really, comparatively speaking, the cost in lives is low.  (I found a great website about the cost of US wars in lives and dollars.)  Britain has lost 175 soldiers and other countries in the alliance have lost 134 soldiers. 

Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed.  No one seems to worry too much about them.  Who decided Arabs don’t count?  No one asked for my vote on that one. 

For some, these may be acceptable numbers, but for whom?  Certainly not to me.  Comparatively speaking these are even low numbers for a war, but how can we speak in terms of comparison when we’re speaking of lives?  And who is the enemy?  What are we fighting for?  WWII–that’s an easy one.  The Nazis were the best bad-guys ever.  Can’t get much more evil and nasty than the Nazis, right?  Then Vietnam–the Communists.  OK, sounds funny today, but looking at it in the context of the times and the Cold War, I can even see wanting to fight the Communists even if the execution of that war was poorly done.  Vietnam became the battlefield for a much larger philosophical battle.  So what’s the point in Iraq?  Hussein was a tyrant and a despot, yes, but he’s not the only one around.  Why’d we pick him out?  There was 9/11, but that was Osama, not Saddam.  They don’t even sound the same.  Or are all Arab names interchangeable?

The war has cost about $500 billion.   That’s billion with a “b”.  We have mortgaged the futures of our grand-children if not our great-great grandchildren.  Our once great military, the envy of the world, has been stretched to the breaking point and demoralized, given substandard equipment to fight a battle many of them don’t even understand.  And I know young men who have been over there.  They come back bitter, let me tell you.  I try to support them–I write, I send gifts, I pray for them–but supporting the troops does not mean I support the war.

Our international reputation has plummeted.  Between the questions about the legality of the war, the torture issue, the mess in Afghanistan and Bush’s unilateral attitude on foreign policy my beloved country is a laughing stock.

Our economy is a mess.  That’s a technical term for disaster.  The poor are getting poorer, but an awful lot of people have become rich thanks to the war.  Funny how none of those people are people I know.  They all seem to be friends of the Bush and Cheney families–the Haliburton crew.  Maybe instead of working for the state college system at a salary below market rate, I should see if Haliburton is hiring.

The Patriot Act is a travesty.  We cannot safeguard democracy by eroding people’s rights.  That’s Orwellian newspeak and doublethink. 

I’ve been back in the States for about nine months now, and the longer I stay, the more upset I get.  My country has been kidnapped, co-opted, perverted, bankrupt.  Dark days for the once bright beacon of hope, the “shining city on the hill” the US had hoped to be.

I’d like to end with a quote from one of the most hated men in the 20th century, and no, not President George W. Bush:

“Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”–Hermann Goering

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