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The Unbearable Weight of War

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Message Missy Beattie
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Democracy in Iraq. Are we there yet? How many massacres of Iraqi men, women, and children does it take to spread democracy, Mr. President?

According to Bush and Co., we'll see some bloody days ahead, but Iraq is on its way to being a Disney-like paradise. Eventually, asserts Bush, we'll spread his vision that every man, woman, and child throughout the world is destined to have""freedom. Then, we'll have peace as we "lay the foundations" of this freedom. George W. Bush says he's making the world safe yet saner minds agree that his policies of imperialism are inspirations for more terrorism.

Check out Afghanistan, where George says we've won the battle against tyrants. Seems to me, the place is aflame. The screams of "death to America" may be insignificant background noise to be ignored by a president whose hallucinations reveal joyfully grateful women slinging off their burkas and children skipping playfully to their schools.

Never forget, too, that Bush's original reason for invading Iraq was "bulletproof" evidence of WMD. Never forget all the lies that have resulted in the deaths of more than 2,470 US troops, the thousands of injured, and the estimated half million Iraqi casualties. In fact, as the president grins and waves, never forget that his tenure has and continues to be a reign of chaos in our names.

The poison of war contaminates all it touches. Think of the Marines at Haditha who, after the death of one of their own, snapped and went on a rampage, kicking down doors and killing every person in sight, regardless of age. What did it matter that women and children were targets? War manipulates men (and women) who are trained to kill, twisting their minds so they become destroyers of anything that moves. War is unique in its hideous reality of taking ordinary men and women and transforming them under acute stress, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, into savages.

I have a friend whose son is in Falluja. He's asked her to send bottles of booze. She told him it might cloud his judgment. His judgment is already clouded by the weight of war, by the violence of seeing his buddies blown up, by the roadside bombs, the snipers, and the mutilations of ordinary Iraqi citizens, including women and children.

The Marines who perpetrated the killings in Haditha in reaction to the death of their comrade may be charged with murder. Who will determine if they should be held accountable? Frankly, they are casualties of this illegal, immoral, and obscene war. The real murderers reside in positions of power in Washington DC. Maybe, the masters of war never pulled a trigger but they did smell blood, blood that has spilled from the bodies of the young and the old. Our "leaders" are killers none the less, even more responsible for mass murder than the Marines who ran amok as the result of engulfing and agonizing loss. The pain of Bush's war is endless.

Casualties are everywhere. They are buried at Arlington and in hometown cemeteries all over America. Some are ashes in urns. Others, wishing they were dead, lie in beds at military hospitals or rehabilitation centers where they are being fitted for prosthetic devices. Many are drinking in bars and at home only to fall asleep and then awaken after jarring nightmares of explosives and missing limbs. They drive our highways, restless and suffering from what they witnessed in war and were forced to do. Some hear a backfire and reach for a rifle that isn't there, haunted by ghosts for the rest of their life.

My hope is that the presidency of George W. Bush becomes a casualty of war. My hope is that war becomes a casualty of war, a lesson finally learned.
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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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