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Cindy Sheehan and Andrew Bacevich did not fail their sons

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Message Michael Richardson
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This Memorial Day weekend brought heartfelt statements of failure from two grieving parents whose sons died in Iraq.  While the politicians were posturing and pandering these two parents, Cindy Sheehan and Andrew Bacevich, told us of their pain and frustration with an eloquence born of tears and sorrow. 

Both spoke of their sons' courage, dedication and sacrifice.  Casey and Andy will no longer sit at the family table but they will never be far from the thoughts of Cindy and Andrew and others that loved them. 

Both parents closed their essays with painful declarations of failure.


But Cindy and Andrew did not fail.  The American public failed.  Cindy and Andrew led, we did not follow.  They spoke, we did not listen.  To be sure, there are voices calling for an end to the war that started with a lie.  But the war goes on.  The death count climbs in a macabre self-fulfilling prophesy where violence begets more violence.


Both Cindy and Andrew talked of the shared responsibility for the carnage by the Republican and Democrat parties.  They understand that corporations and great wealth fuel the war.  They bemoan America's pop culture and self-indulgence blinding us to the realities of our actions…and inaction.


The war machine races on robbing our treasury, numbing our conscience, and killing innocents.  We have made a dictator's palaces our own and renamed an imperial sanctum  the Green Zone.  We fight in the streets, bomb urban neighborhoods, and terrify the people we claim to protect.  We fight a war we don't understand and spawn suicide bombers.  Kidnappings, torture and murder now are part of everyday life in Iraq after we destroyed the infrastructure of a nation.


When George Bush was appointed President, after being defeated by a half-million votes, the die was cast.  The President campaigned that he wouldn't engage in "nation-building" and sounded like an isolationist.  Instead, Bush is an expansionist and is trying to make Iraq a safe place for American business.


The war in Iraq is a devil's brew of religious strife we don't understand, a class struggle where we are on the side of wealth, and a political quagmire.  It is not a war on terror, it is a terrifying war.


Now two grieving parents who have both lost their sons have announced failure.  To be sure, the war goes on, but Cindy and Andrew are not to blame.  They have spoken when others were silent.  They have acted while others watched.


The Republican and Democrat parties, and the corporations that control the two parties, remain in charge.  The elite still decide the fate of those caught in the awful carnage of war.  Cindy and Andrew alone could never hope to stop the war machine so the failure is not theirs.  It is our failure, it belongs to each of us.  In America, the people are responsible for the government.  The war in Iraq is our collective fault and moral responsibility to end.


Cindy and Andrew, you are entitled to your grief but your self-blame is misplaced.  You have not failed your sons.  You have been our conscience and spoken the truth.


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Michael Richardson is a freelance writer living in Belize. Richardson writes about Taiwan foreign policy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Black Panther Party. Richardson was Ralph Nader's ballot access manager during the 2004 and (more...)

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