|The American people were told by their President how dangerous the Iraqi Al Qaida terrorists were. George W. Bush assured anxious Americans, he would protect us. Congress was warned of what would occur if the United States did not react to the Middle Eastern threat. Commander Bush sent aletter on March 18, 2003. Even as his eight-year term ended, he worked to establish in the minds of historians and the electorate who had experienced all that occurred, Mister Bush kept us safe. |
As recently as December 2008, the now former President proclaimed, a newly acquired nuance to the saga he has long recounted on the war in Iraq. "It is true, as I have said many times, that Saddam Hussein was not connected to the 9/11 attacks. But the decision to remove Saddam from power cannot be viewed in isolation from 9/11." Yet, he retained and repeated his ever-strident commitment to the combat. "It was clear to me, to members of both political parties, and to many leaders around the world that after 9/11, this was a risk we could not afford to take."
Americans, many of whom are content the Bush era has passed, refer to the 9/11 Commission Report to invalidate the claims of a President who no longer resides in the White House. Currently, countless citizens take comfort; Barack Obama presides over the Oval Office. The just elected Commander-In-Chief has already begun to take steps to remove beleaguered troops from the embattled frontlines.
Since Mister Obama took office, citizens are less concerned with the war in Iraq. Many have faith the President will do what is best for military men and women. Some are encouraged by reports that the Commander-In-Chief will send combat soldiers stationed in Iraq home safely, or perhaps, individuals are focused on more personal realities. Anxiety over a potential, probable, or actual job loss consumes countless Americans, more so than combat abroad does. A pension-plan gone bust, a lack of health care coverage, and a possible home foreclosure take precedence for millions more than war. Few of the common folk feel as troubled by occurrences in the Middle East. Most merely hope Mister Obama will do what is best.
Occasional outspoken exception can be heard. On March 12, 2009, former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleisher stated, "[A]fter September 11th, having been hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam Hussein might not strike again? We got a report saying al Qaeda is determined to attack the United States." Nonetheless, even Conservatives such as John McCain endorse President Obama's plan for withdrawal.
Overall, opinions on Iraq, the war and the withdrawal are mixed, even among foreign policy experts.
Then there are the few who fear further folly in the Persian Gulf. Progressives, be they political figures or peace activists amongst the public, think the Obama agenda to end the conflict in Iraq is too little and too late. Official dissent is often stated diplomatically. Personal pleas may be more moving.
A week before the sixth anniversary of America's Second Gulf War, regardless of the President's intended withdrawal everyday people stood out in the streets, just as they had done throughout the war. 'Iraq is a symptom of a foreign policy and priorities" that the peaceful felt and feel they cannot sanction.
At local vigils nationwide attendees talked of their observation, verified in the news. Americans support the President's proposed Afghan buildup. ''Enough! Bring the Troops Home Now!" was the oft-heard cry from those who crave global harmony. Most asked as they had during the fateful Bush years. "What Do We Do Now?"
Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons offers his perspective. In an article published on June 14, 2007, the recipient of the Doctor Benjamin Spock's Peacemaker Award presents his ten-point plan.
I often hear from people asking me, "What should we do about all this? How can we stop Bush?"
I would first say that we must move beyond blaming Bush. The fact of U.S. empire is bigger than Bush. Hopefully by now, all of us are more clear how the Democrats have been, and are now, involved in enabling the whole U.S. military empire-building plan. It is about corporate domination. Bush is just the front man for the big money.
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So to me that is step #1 .
Step #2 is to openly acknowledge that as a nation, and we as citizens, benefit from this U.S. military and economic empire. By keeping our collective military boot on the necks of the people of the world we get control of a higher percentage of the world's resources. We, 5% of the global population in the U.S., use 25% of the global resource base. This reality creates serious moral questions that cannot be ignored.
Step #3 is to recognize that we are addicted to war and to violence. The very weaving together of our nation was predicated on violence when we began the extermination of the Native populations and introduced the institution of slavery. A veteran of George Washington's Army, in 1779, said, "I really felt guilty as I applied the torch to huts that were homes of content until we ravagers came spreading desolation everywhere.. Our mission here is ostensibly to destroy but may it not transpire, that we pillagers are carelessly sowing the seed of Empire." The soldier wrote this as Washington's Army set out to remove the Iroquois civilization from New York state so that the U.S. government could expand its borders westward toward the Mississippi River. The creation of the American empire was underway.
Our history since then has been endless war. Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler, U.S. Marine Corps, told the story in his book War is a Racket. Butler recalls in his book, "I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service....And during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism....Thus I helped make Mexico and especially
Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street....I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested."
Step # 4 We have to begin to change how we think about our country. We have to learn to understand what oligarchy means. I'll save you the trouble of having to look up the definition - A government in which power is in the hands of a few. When you have lost your democracy then what do the citizens do? They must fight (non-violently) to take it back. This of course means direct action and sometimes civil disobedience. Virtually everything good in our nation (abolition of slavery movement, women's suffrage, civil rights movement, anti-war movements, etc) have come from people stepping up when they were needed. Calling for impeachment by the Congress becomes imperative today. Are you in or out?
Step #5 Forget the "every man for himself" mythology. We are all brainwashed in this country to believe in the rugged individualism story. But movement for change can only happen in community - working with others. So forget the egocentric notion that "one great man" is going to come save us. It's going to take a village - in fact all the villages. Just like an addict goes to a group to seek help for addiction, knowing they can't do it themselves, so we must form community to work for the needed change if we are to protect our children's future.
Step # 6 What about my job? Another smothering myth in America is success. Keep your nose clean and don't rock the boat. Don't get involved in politics, especially calling for a revolution of values (like Martin Luther King Jr. did) or you will get labeled and then you can forget about owning that castle on the hill you've always dreamed of. In a way we become controlled by our own subservience to the success mythology. We keep ourselves in line because success and upward mobility become more important than protecting free speech, clean water, clean air, and ending an out of control government bent on world domination. Free our minds, free our bodies and we free the nation.
Step #7 Learn to work well with others. Sure we all want to be stars. But in the end we have to learn to set aside our egos if we want to be able to work with others to bring about the needed changes. Cindy Sheehan should not be hammered just for telling the truth about the Democrats playing footsie with Bush on the war.
Step # 8 It's the money. How can I do this peace work when I have to work full-time just to pay the mortgage? I'd like to help but I've got bills to pay! Maybe we can begin to look at the consumerist life we lead and see that our addiction to the rat race keeps us from being fully engaged in the most important issue of our time - which is protecting the future generations. How can we begin to explore cooperative living arrangements, by building community, that free us up economically to be able to get more involved?
Step # 9 Learn to read again. Many of us don't read enough. We spend our time in front of the TV, which is a primary tool that the power structure uses to brainwash us. We've got to become independent thinkers again and teach our kids to think for themselves. Reading and talking to others is a key. Read more history. All the answers and lessons can be found there.
Step #10 Learn to trust again and have fun. Some of the nicest people in the world are doing political work. Meet them and become friends with them and your life will change for the better.
Mister Gagnon professes wars will be forever perpetual if we the people continue to consider our brethren an enemy. If dominion is our preference, diplomacy will never be more than a mere word. The public cannot blame George W. Bush or Barack Obama for its addiction to might and material goods. Nor can we, the people expect an oligarchy to have the best interests of common folks at heart. If consumption and competition are the principles that guide our population, battles will endure. If peace is to ever come, as citizens, as a country, on every continent, the people must act in accordance with the principles most claim they hold dear. Consistency, in thought and deed, can eliminate combat.
"Love thy neighbor" cannot be said only on Sundays, on the Sabbath, or in houses of worship. Indeed, Bruce Gagnon might avow, as other peaceful persons do, March 19, 2009 is not the sixth anniversary of a war. It is another date that lives in infamy, as has been every day in centuries of battles fought.
References for the reality of war . . .
- Feinstein blasts Bush's talk of war; Senator says attack on Iraq unwarranted, By Edward Epstein. San Francisco Chronicle. Friday, September 6, 2002
- Poll Shows View of Iraq War Is Most Negative Since Start, By Dalia Sussman. The New York Times.: May 25, 2007
- Bush looks back on Iraq war, Mideast policies, By Mike Carney. USA Today. December 05, 2008
- Bush sends letter to Congress on Iraqi action. Cable News Network. March 21, 2003
- pdf Bush sends letter to Congress on Iraqi action. Cable News Network. March 21, 2003
- Iraq Withdrawal Plan Gains G.O.P. Support, By Peter Baker. The New York Times. February 26, 2009
- Fleischer Defends Iraq Invasion: After 9/11, 'How Could We Take A Chance' That Saddam Might 'Strike Again'? By Amanda Terkel. Think Progress. March 12, 2009
- 9/11 panel sees no link between Iraq, al-Qaida. MSNBC News. June 16, 2004
- Text Of President Bush's Speech. by David Hancock. CBS News. October 7, 2002
- Americans support Afghan buildup, By Reid Wilson. The Hill. March 5, 2009
- Iraq War Anniversary Brings First Signs Of Conflict's End, By Gil Kaufman. MTV. March 19, 2009
- Obama's Plan for Iraq. The Washington Post. Sunday, March 1, 2009; Page A13
- Newton peace activists say Obama withdrawal plan is not enough, By Erica Noonan. Boston Globe. March 13, 2009