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Action, But No Lights or Cameras on Iraq

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Message Missy Beattie
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What do you do about loss?

Where do you hitch hope when the heaviness in your chest is even more crushing because you're witnessing the further freefall of your nation's moral standards? Where do you look for optimism when you read enough to learn that your country's leaders have been bullies for more than two centuries? What do you do when you're wondering if there will be anything salvageable for your children and grandchildren?

These are the questions that make me reside in a place called "Anxious" most of the time.

That our policies of occupation and exploitation have pushed so many people in the world into squalor is an outrage to my conscience. That we've strong-armed other countries to join a campaign of empire that puts us at risk abroad as well as at home is terrifying. That my children, who long to travel and have adventures exploring the world, are told to say they're Canadian instead of American is heartbreaking. That our leaders lack empathy for the "collaterally" damaged is as shameful as a compassion-reduced electorate. That our oil consumption and love affair with larger and larger vehicles is more important than the human beings in oil rich countries is immoral.

It is reprehensible that so many think it's right to take what isn't ours.

We know it's a global society. Trade, travel, and the internet have taken us to the far reaches of the world. News enters our homes with mind-boggling speed when we click the remote. The victims of the earthquake in Pakistan and India, those devastated by the tsunami""these are catastrophes that slam our living spaces, brains and hearts too often. All of this, including Katrina's wreckage, leaves us digging in our pockets or reaching for our checkbooks and credit cards to offer aid.

We Americans are a generous people.

Yet, for some reason, we look at Iraq and we don't want to examine it closely. It is more comfortable for us to be reminded by the crawl that ten Marines were killed in Fallujah. No visuals please. Show no returning, flag-draped coffins. And if the cause of death is friendly fire or an area not swept properly for bombs, don't tell the truth to the families of the dead. Shine no light on mistakes unless there is pressure for more information.

Cover completely the story of an airplane that's skidded off a runway. Show hour after hour of a plane whose landing gear won't cooperate. And advertise endlessly that more than 50,000,000 people are expected to view the crowning of reality television's "Survivor" champion.

Meanwhile, the war rages on with deaths almost daily. There are increasingly frequent suicide bombings of troops and Iraqis by Insurgents but little attention is given to the horrors of war by our mainstream media. What does it tell us about ourselves if we're more interested in who prevails on "Survivor" than on who dies or survives in Iraq?

Sadly, there's been more television debate and outrage over John Kerry's use of the word "terrorizing" to describe troops entering Iraqi homes in the night than there is about the dead, the maimed, the psychologically damaged, and the number of soldiers who have committed suicide.

Still, the President of the United States, at every fund-raising event and speech, acts like the Energizer Bunny, saying we won't stop short of anything less than complete victory when persons much smarter than he, many of whom have actually participated in combat, are telling us this war is not winnable""that we, in fact, have already lost. And he's just stated so forcefully that withdrawing our troops sends the wrong message to our young men and women in uniform. My family's soldier received the undeniably wrong message""death, and George Bush delivered it.

No, we never should have invaded Iraq. But we did and Bush has mishandled the war just like he is mishandling our trust. Just like he is mishandling our poor and the middle class. Just like he is mishandling our future. He is fondling us in areas where no president has gone before. And we are sitting by, letting him get away with it because he is managed by the greatest team of public relations manipulators the world has ever seen. Hollywood productions receive less staging. Less special effects.

We can't allow this to continue. Bush Inc. is producing and directing the unraveling of our lives. "Action, and no adlibbing. Everything scripted. No cut and run. Terror, terror, terror. Victory, victory, victory."

Meanwhile, the Democrats are scattering in different directions like roaches when a light switch is flipped. Their failure to come together against weak White House leadership highlights their incompetence. In fact, their language brings to mind the Biblical Tower of Babel story.

Bush has recovered a few poll points and he's emboldened. But even when pinned to the mat, the man has never publicly lost faith in his ability to convince Americans that he has any doubts about his vision. He goes down for the count and then after a Karl Rove sermon of "never waver"you are always right," Bush comes up swinging, KOing the sniveling Democrats.

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Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)
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