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It's Time to Wake Up, America

Timothy J. Freeman

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It seems most Americans are still having a hard time facing the truth about the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The situation in Iraq today is clearly a far cry from that cheery triumph announced last May by Mr. Bush. Instead of a quick and easy victory, it?s now looking more like a long and very costly occupation. Nevertheless, the Bush Administration insists that we have to “stay the course” and “finish the job.” Perhaps it would be worth considering some relevant details about this course before going any further in finishing the job.

Two young men have the space to contemplate the brutality of their country's war against Iraq. The absurd nationalist regalia hanging behind them fails to provide comfort or dignity.

Two young men have the space to contemplate the brutality of their country’s war against Iraq. The absurd nationalist regalia hanging behind them fails to provide comfort or dignity.

With the deadly toll from this last weekend, some 376 of our troops have now given the ultimate sacrifice, 238 since Bush?s flight suit performance. Many more have come home horribly wounded. The number of Iraqi casualties is, of course, far harder to determine as our leaders and the mainstream media have absolutely no interest in the figures.  But independent estimates of the total to date count at least 7,000 to 10,000 Iraqi civilian deaths. The number of Iraqi soldiers killed in the “combat phase” is also estimated to be at least 10,000. It is also estimated that around 20,000 Iraqi civilians have been injured in the invasion and occupation. One of these, a 12 year old boy named Ali Ismail Abbas, lost 16 family members and both arms.

Keep in mind that no weapons of mass destruction have been found. Despite all the hype before the war about Iraq?s massive arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, it?s clear now that Iraq was never really an imminent threat. Keep in mind also that no connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda has ever been established. None - not one - of the hijacker-terrorists were Iraqi. It might still be a surprise to many Americans, but the truth is that Iraq was not involved in the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

We know now that the Bush Administration ignored the conclusions of our own intelligence agencies and greatly exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. We now know that in one infamous case that the Bush Administration lied to the American people in the march to war. There was no imminent threat and no connection to 9/11.

In the absence of any real threat or connection to 9/11, the Bush Administration has tried to convince the public that the invasion and occupation is a “great and noble thing” in liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein.  On the one hand, it is hard to imagine the American people ever having supported the war if Bush had made no mention of WMDs or 9/11, and instead argued that we needed to overthrow Saddam Hussein, at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars, not to mention the lives of many good young Americans, just to “liberate” the Iraqi people.

These 'liberated' Iraqis are treated as terrorist because they opposed the invasion of their country by a hostile foreign aggressor.

These ‘liberated’ Iraqis are treated as terrorist because they opposed the invasion of their country by a hostile foreign aggressor.

On the other hand, it should be painfully obvious by now that our troops are not there to “liberate” the Iraqi people. Our troops are clearly not perceived by the Iraqi people as liberators, but as an occupation force. The longer the troops stay, the more obvious that it is not a liberation but an occupation.

The real reasons for the war are spelled out in a report produced by “Project for the New American Century.” If one really wants to know the course Bush asks us to stay, the job we are supposed to finish, one really should read this document.  This document, signed by the neo-cons that directed this march to war, announced in the mid 1990’s a project to overthrow Iraq as well as other troubling states in the Middle-East.  The document charts a reckless course that promises many more wars to come.

The truth about the war and occupation of Iraq is that it was planned long before 9/11. The tragic events of that day were used by the Bush Administration to push through a plan that had long been in the works to overthrow Saddam Hussein and take control of Iraq.

War, if ever justified, is supposed to be an absolute last resort. Whatever problem was posed by Saddam Hussein, it is now quite clear that there was still time, there still remained peaceful means of dealing with that problem. There is every indication that the Bush Administration, rather than doing everything in their power to avoid war and find a peaceful solution, did in fact everything in their power to avoid a peaceful solution and find a reason for war.

The Bush Administration led this country into war by misleading the people about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and by capitalizing on the fear generated by the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  The terrible truth is that the war on Iraq has only poured gasoline on the fire that is the problem of terrorism and thus made the world a much more dangerous place.

Now that all the lies and distortions have been exposed, the only thing the Bush Administration has left to try and spin this occupation as a great and noble thing is simply an appeal to the patriotism of the American people. The terrible truth about this war is that the American people have been manipulated by a shallow patriotism and a constant message of fear, and basically conned into supporting a war that was never really an act of self-defence. It was, all along, a war of aggression, and a war of aggression is the supreme crime condemned at Nuremberg. This war and occupation of Iraq is thus certainly not a great and noble thing.

Ali Ismail Abbas received world attention and became 'the poster child' of the Iraq war, but he merely represented hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people either dead or bereaved by the USA-led invasion.

Ali Ismail Abbas received world attention and became ‘the poster child’ of the Iraq war, but he merely represented hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people either dead or bereaved by the USA-led invasion.

It is certainly not supporting our troops to send them into such a war. To send them to war on such false pretences has to be the very worst thing to do to those who have so bravely put their lives on the line in the service of their country. The truth about the invasion and occupation of Iraq is that we never should have gone in there in the first place.  Those who protested against the war, who sat in vigils for peace, were right all along.

Here on the Big Island of Hawaii, there continues to be a small protest and peace vigil every Friday afternoon in downtown Hilo.  On one side of the street there are still a dedicated few holding signs of protest. On the other side of the street there is a small quiet vigil in which members of the local chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship sit in silent meditation.  As Zen Master Robert Aitken explained at the peace rally on Saturday, October 25, the purpose of the vigil is simply to demonstrate “original peace.” Now that it?s clear how much the people have been misled through deliberate distortions and a constant message of fear, one might think such a demonstration would have a point. Roshi Aitken shared with us a thought about a driver who shouted “wake-up” while passing by one Friday. “That?s just our point,” remarked Aitken, with some bemused sadness.

I couldn?t help but think of the driver that morning who drove by shouting “war is cool.” Take a long look at that boy who lost 16 family members and both arms and then tell me how cool war is. Take a long look and face the truth that the war was not at all necessary?not for Ali Ismail Abbas, not for the thousands of other Iraqi?s who have suffered and died, and not for our troops.  Not until we face this terrible truth about the war and occupation of Iraq can we ever hope to begin to set things right.

It’s time to wake up, America, time to face the truth about this war, confront our fears, and perhaps find our “original peace.”


Published Saturday, November 8th, 2003 - 11:31am GMT

Article courtesy of the Information Clearing House

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