President Bush will soon ask Congress for about another $200,000,000,000 as the official death count of US service people killed in Iraq passes the 3,800 mark. This 3,800 does not even include those who have died because of their injuries after they left Iraq. The numbers are far higher!
According to Iraq Body Count the number of hostile and non-hostile US injured evacuated by air from Iraq was almost 37,000 as of the end of August, 2007. The number of Iraqis killed as a result of the invasion and occupation is estimated to be over 1,063,825. That is more than those slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide according to www.justforeignpolicy.org . Furthermore, these figures do not capture the real horror, devastation, and unimaginable misery inflicted on the Iraqi people.
A recently released report by the American Friends Service Committee’s Cost of War Campaign says that the United States is spending about $720 million per day for the Iraq War with $1 trillion spent already. It also reports that Americans will have to pay $290 billion for the over 25,000 Iraq War veterans with life-altering injuries such as blindness, exposure to depleted uranium, post traumatic stress syndrome, and the loss of limbs.
Considering the above facts about the human toll and cost this war and occupation has inflicted upon Iraqis, US service people, and their loved ones I often wonder about the level of response from my fellow citizens. Why aren’t more people getting involved to oppose this outrageous war? Considering the fact that this war and occupation is illegal, that we were fraudulently led to a war of aggression by the Bush-Cheney liars, that those elected to serve us in Congress have failed to do their jobs to take any meaningful steps to oppose and stop this war-occupation and are now complicit in this illegality I truly wonder where my fellow citizens are in response to this grave matter.
According to polls Americans now overwhelmingly oppose this war-occupation. Considering that the Democrats were elected in November 2006, due to the obvious opposition to the war in Iraq, they have failed to do anything of substance for almost a year now to either begin impeachment proceedings or to challenge the war-funding in any successful way. The president is the least popular US president ever and the Democrats control both houses of congress yet nothing is being done to have a government of, by, and for the people by holding the lawbreakers accountable. Where is the outrage? Will the 2008 elections help? Does voting work?
In spite of the illegalities and irregularities of the 2000 and 2004 national elections the people still have a voice with their votes. The vote is not simply support for a candidate it is an endorsement of the system. However, too often voters are left with the choice between the lesser of two evils. But, a vote for evil is still a vote for evil and we’ve had enough of that.
We must use our vote, an endorsement of the system, to challenge our elected officials to follow the will of the people. If we are faced with candidates in November 2008 who support more funding for war, violence over diplomacy, torture over human rights then we must make it known we will not endorse this. We must make it known now, not in 2008, to our representatives in congress that although they may be good on other issues we will not vote for them if they do not end this war and stop future wars.
Voting, however, should only be part of our response and responsibility because it is now apparent that those elected to lead us in this democratic republic are not doing their job. It is time for the people to lead and not just vote. But, what is to be done? There are a few things that can be done and it does not include waiting for the November 2008 elections.