Wednesday, March 19, 2008

5 Damned Long years in Iraq

Back in 1967 Martin Luther King was speaking about the war in Viet Nam when he said “I oppose the war because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. It is so in 2008.

Here we are again- 5 years of war in Iraq! 5 long years! 3990 dead American soldiers, 60,000 plus wounded American soldiers, millions of Iraqis displaced, and we will never know how many Iraqis have died in this war turned occupation of their country. We are spending $12 Billion dollars a month, $17 million dollars every hour and $275 million dollars a day. We know that 935 lies were told by various members of the administration that instills fear so that the citizens of this country would support this Global War on Terror in Iraq. That’s quite a lot of numbers to keep track of; but the best number of all is 307 and that is the number of days left until January 19, 2009, which means, we will be free of the dangerous, fear mongering Bush administration.

Today on the 5th anniversary of the invasion into Iraq, donning his rose colored glasses again, Bush told employees at the Pentagon, "War critics can no longer credibly argue that we are losing in Iraq," and "No one would argue that this war has not come at a high cost in lives and treasure, but those costs are necessary,". The war has come at a high cost, indeed, but the financial costs were not necessary, the psychological costs were not necessary and the human costs were never necessary; not for the United States and not for Iraq. Cheney says the US will complete the mission in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean any more today than when he said the same thing in 2003.

5 years ago, in 2003, most Americans did not have to be touched by the war unless you were sucked in by the rush to the glory of war as this country was wrapped in the American flag by Fox news and other corporate media. In 2008, you still do not have to be touched by the war. When Bush proclaims that America is at war, he ignores the fact that it is the 1% of this country who carries the burden of war, the military and their families. Military families bear the burden of repeated deployments, PTSD, increased rates of divorce, deployments for those with existing physical and psychological injuries and suicides at an alarming rate. But for most people, life goes on normally. This administration likes it that way just fine.

Instead of Bush going quietly at the end of his presidency, he continues to offend us with his vetoes, his threats and his smirks. We just wish he would just go away. We wish we could wake up from this national nightmare and find that these past 7 years have been a bad, bad dream. But we know better and we have much to do to repair the damage. When did the US become known for torture, spying & lying? When did the US lose our standing in the world? When did PEACE become a bad word?

If this president is clueless about the concept of a $4 gallon of gasoline, then how can we be surprised when he says speaking to members of the military in Afghanistan just this Friday, "I must say, I'm a little envious," "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines helping this young democracy succeed. "It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history." George Bush has really got to go!

We have marched, written letters, sent faxes, held meetings, made phone calls, and this week as we enter the 6th year of this occupation, we will continue to do the same until the troops come home. If we do not, if we remain silent, then those in Washington will think that we do not care about the carnage being done in our good name or the $3 Trillion dollars being spent. BUT, we do care. The truth is, if ending the occupation in Iraq was a priority in Washington and around the world, our troops would be home! Our voices must make it a priority.

I am not so naïve as to think that any of the presidential candidates will really bring the troops home, not to our definition anyway. So we must remind them. OFTEN.

While we can all pretty much agree that this Congress has not produced what we asked, consider what they might have not done without our voices? We ARE their conscience! Back in November of 2000, I stayed up late watching the election returns much like watching an automobile accident unfold. As you might recall, it was morbidly fascinating. When it was finally announced that George Bush would be the 43rd president of the United States, I remember thinking, “well, really how bad could it be? The term is only 4 years, how much damage can he do? Surely he will surround himself with experience people” And he did, but that would turn out to be a defining moment and the worst election of my life. I didn’t know it, but that November decision made by the Supreme Court laid the path to my role as a Gold Star Mother.

As for Ken, I miss him every minute of every day. When Ken was killed, people told me it would get better. They were wrong; it is different, but life without Ken will never be better. As a friend described Ken at his memorial, There was "no secret icing on the cake, just a plain, honest man . . . who would get crazy every so often.'' As a single mom, Ken was my north star, my grounding. But when Ken died, so did my future. We Gold Star families are the human cost of this war. We are left behind to pick up the pieces of our broken lives. We will go on with our lives, but there will always be a part of our heart that is a desperately empty black hole.

For those people who still think it would be a “travesty for everyone who has lost their lives to just pull out of Iraq”, I say it would be a travesty to lose more lives. I wouldn’t wish this life on anyone.

They say you do not get something if you don’t ask for it, so I am going to ask that you stay engaged in this movement to end the war as Iraq fatigue settles in and fades from the front page. Let Congress hear our voices. Someday they may really, really understand that the American people will stand with them, if they stand with the American people. They do not have to continue funding this war to show us that they support the troops. They are not unpatriotic because they want to bring this war to an end and to bring the troops home.

Five years of this war in Iraq is long enough, continuing it for one more day is just wrong. Bring the troops and the subcontractors home now!

This posting is a part of the March 19 Iraq War Blogswarm. Please wander over and see what others are saying about this sad anniversary.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You sound well educated and misinformed. Unfortunately you’re only looking at one side of the equation. I just returned from Afghanistan last week and I can tell you the good we are doing for the people in that region. They are no longer under the threat of the Taliban and they are rebuilding their lives and their country. Pulling our troops out now would be selfish.

GSMSO said...

Anon-

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad to hear you had a positive experience in Afghanistan. I believe that good things are happening in Afghanistan, and also in Iraq, but not enough to justify the human and financial costs of both occupations.

Coalition deaths were the highest in the preceding 7 years of fighting in Afghanistan.

Feb 2008 from the US State

The Department of State continues to strongly warn U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan. No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against American and other western nationals at any time. Remnants of the former Taliban regime and the terrorist al-Qa’ida network, and other groups hostile to NATO-led military operations continue, with the heavy involvement of U.S. forces. There is an on-going threat to kidnap and assassinate U.S. citizens and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) workers throughout the country. Afghan authorities have a limited ability to maintain order and ensure the security of citizens and visitors. Travel in all areas of Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul, is unsafe due to military operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry among political and tribal groups, and the possibility of terrorist attacks, including attacks using vehicular or other improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The security environment remains volatile and unpredictable.

Terrorist attacks on international organizations, international aid workers, and foreign interests continue. Kabul in particular has seen a rise in militant attacks, including rocket attacks, vehicle borne IEDs, and suicide bombings. The number of attacks in the south and southwestern areas of the country continues to be high as a result of insurgent and drug-related activity, but no part of the country is immune from attacks. The country’s most lethal suicide attack occurred in Baghlan Province in November 2007, killing more than 70 people.

More than 70 attacks were reported in Kabul between April and December 2007. These included repeated incidents at or near Kabul International Airport, suicide bombings, persistent rocket attacks on vehicle convoys, and IEDs on many of the major roadways. These incidents resulted in many deaths and injuries of U.S. and coalition personnel and local civilians.

Incidents have occurred with some frequency on the Kabul-Jalalabad Road (commonly called Jalalabad Road) since June 2006. The road’s use is highly restricted for Embassy employees and, if the security situation warrants, sometimes is curtailed completely.

Foreigners throughout the country continued to be targeted for violent attacks and kidnappings, whether motivated by terrorism or criminality. An American NGO worker and her driver were kidnapped on January 26 in Kandahar. On January 14, gunmen attacked the Serena Hotel and killed at least eight people, including an American contractor and a Norwegian journalist. An employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture was killed in an attack in Ghazni province in October 2007. A Bangladeshi aid worker was abducted in Logar Province, located south of Kabul, and held for three months from September to December 2007. An Afghan-American businessman was kidnapped in Kabul in September. Several German citizens were also kidnapped in Afghanistan last year, including a German woman kidnapped in Kabul while eating at a restaurant in September. In July 2007, twenty-three South Korean aid workers were kidnapped in Ghazni, two of whom were later killed.

Riots and incidents of civil disturbance can and do occur, often without warning. American citizens should avoid rallies and demonstrations; even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.
Carjackings, robberies, and violent crime remain a problem. American citizens involved in property disputes -- a common legal problem -- have reported that their adversaries in the disputes have threatened their lives. Americans who find themselves in such situations cannot assume that either local law enforcement or the U.S. Embassy will be able to assist them.

and from the UN
The United Nations has delivered a grim assessment of the conflict in Afghanistan, reporting that violence increased sharply last year and resulted in the deaths of more than 8,000 people, at least 1,500 of them civilians.

In a report to the security council, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said the number of violent incidents rose from an average of 425 a month in 2006 to 566 each month last year.

The number of suicide attacks rose to 160 in 2007 from 123 in 2006 — with 68 attempts thwarted in 2007 compared with 17 in 2006, he said.

Ban claimed that while the insurgency drew strength from local people, much of the violence was led from abroad. "The support of foreign-based networks in providing leadership, planning, training, funding and equipment clearly remains crucial to its viability," he said.

Current violence in Afghanistan is at its highest level since a US-led invasion in 2001 to oust Taliban rulers.

The focus of the conflict has been in Afghanistan's southern and eastern provinces, but the insurgents are increasingly using Iraq-style tactics - such as roadside bombs, suicide attacks and kidnappings - against foreign and Afghan targets around the country.

"Afghanistan remains roughly divided between the generally more stable west and north, where security problems are linked to factionalism and criminality, and the south and east, characterised by an increasingly coordinated insurgency," the secretary general said.

He cited a number of worrying trends, including the gradual emergence of insurgent activity in the previously calm north-west, and the encroachment of insurgents into the two provinces of Logar and Wardak, which border the capital, Kabul.

Ban said the tactics of anti-government elements changed noticeably in 2007 in response to the superiority of Afghan and international security forces in conventional battles.

The opposition groups were forced "to adopt small-scale, asymmetric tactics aimed largely at the Afghan national security forces and, in some cases, civilians: improvised explosive devices, suicide attacks, assassinations and abductions", Ban said.

Ban also expressed concern at the increase in attacks on Afghan and international humanitarian workers. In more than 130 attacks, 40 aid workers were killed and 89 abducted, of whom seven were later killed by their captors, he said.

nolo said...

may all the saints and angels bless ken [and you!], for the "costly sacrifice you've lain at the altar of freedom. . ."

[i think it unfortunate, in the extreme, that anonymous didn't at least sign his/her name.]

you've handled him/her with such
grace -- goddesses will bless you!

as importantly, you've offered
a beautiful, well-thought-out post!

g-r-r-r-r-r-r-e-a-t one!

now over 300 posts in the blogswarm!

[i am trying to read every one of
the 'swarm's posts -- so i'll be
brief here. . .]

it will take all of us, probably at
the ballot-box in november, to
be sure this war ends. and we
all know that means mccockroach
can't be voted in -- so, work for EITHER
barack or hillary -- but get us a true
end the war president, inaugurated
on january 20, 2009!

n a m a s t é

-- nolo

Chancelucky said...

for some odd reason, the folks who post on blogs who support the war never sign their name or even have consistent posting name. Pro-war blogs also often block comments by outsiders.

I keep thinking about gambling addicts who say I've lost this much money tonight and if I quit now I'll have nothing to show for it. They never seem to have a strategy for changing or accomplishing anything other than some hope that their luck will change.

GSMSO said...

Chance-

Very good to see your name here, as always!

My theory about "Anon" is that s/he is one very busy person (one, being the key word). The prowar bloggers, are indeed an interesting breed, with their smash and dash comments.

As for the addicts hoping their luck will change- either that, or that their administration will run it's course and (they think) they can no longer be held responsible. The good news is we are at day 306 on the countdown until January 19, 2009 when Bush is OUTTA HERE!

pogblog said...

It's $50,000 dollars every 10 seconds -- compare that to what you make. Even if they don't grok the blackhole (in)human costs, you'd think the sheer robbery from the future would daunt folks who countenance the war continuing for 10-100 years.

libhom said...

Thank you so much for participating in the blogswarm. I knew you would have very important things to say the moment I saw that you had signed up.

John Shuck said...

Thank you for this blog and for speaking out. I have linked to you on mine Shuck and Jive. I am a clergy person for peace.