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March 15, 2006

Other People's Kids

By Lonna Van Horn

All those who accepted without question the words and claims of this administration in the run-up to war with Iraq, especially the media whose function is to examine what those in power say and to hold them accountable, must share the guilt for the deaths of "other people's kids."


“War can be prevented, just as surely as it can be provoked, and we who fail to prevent it must share the guilt for the dead.” WWII General Omar Bradley

Corporate Main Stream Media shills, stand up and take a bow. If you had spent the time making sure the public knew the facts about who was behind 9/11 and examining this administration’s deceptions about Iraq and Saddam Hussein being connected to 9/11 and al Qaeda with the same energy you dissected Clinton’s fling with his intern, perhaps there would not, now, be 2,300 dead American soldiers, and 20,000 maimed. Because you did not, you must now share in that “guilt for the dead” Bradley was talking about. But then, to you, as to the president, the dead are only “other people’s kids.”

The flags in my town were flying at half-mast on Friday to “honor” the third Roswell soldier killed in Iraq. Collection boxes have been set up at various businesses to benefit his wife and children, thus providing a means by which Roswellians whose kids are not in the military can assuage their consciences for the death of someone else’s kid in an unnecessary and disastrous war based on lies and deception.

In “The Accidental Terrorist” a soldier wrote that he was

“a mercenary that kills for college tuition
A time honored family tradition
The floatation device for the working class man”

It may be possible to argue whether or not minorities and the poor are still over-represented in the military. What is not arguable is that virtually none of the children or grandchildren of people in Congress and this Administration, not to mention children of the CEO’s and other high-ranking people in the boardrooms of the military-industrial complex, or the children of media anchors and right-wing talk show hosts are serving in the military.

If you have seen the military recruiting commercials flooding the airwaves, you will have noticed the ads do not seem to be aimed at children of rich white people.

Remember Jessica Lynch? She enlisted in the military because she could not get a job at Walmart.

The fact is that two of the three Roswell soldiers killed in Iraq have had Hispanic surnames.

What is fortunate for this administration is that many soldiers were at least as misled as the rest of the population about Iraq and Saddam Hussein even before the military had the opportunity to brainwash them. It is likely such ignorance of the facts influenced the decision of at least some of them to enlist.

A first-ever Zogby survey of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq found that an astonishing 85% of those questioned believed their mission was "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks." Ninety-three percent said removing Saddam’s non-existent WMD’s is not the reason U.S. troops are in Iraq. Sixty eight% of the troops think our mission in Iraq was to remove Saddam Hussein from power, while 77% said they believe the main or a major reason for the war was "to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq."

A state-run media could hardly have produced more dismal statistics of public awareness of the facts than has our "free" press, thus proving once again that our pathetic main stream media is little more than a propaganda arm for this corrupt, corporate run, war-mongering and war-profiteering administration.

George W. Bush and members of his administration consistently, and it must be supposed, deliberately, juxtaposed the words “terrorism” and “Saddam Hussein,” and the media consistently carried those pronouncements without disputing their implications. Thus, in the minds of the public after 9/11, Osama bin Laden gradually morphed into Saddam Hussein. The participants in that attack and the people who funded it also morphed into Iraqis rather than the Saudis most of them actually were.

Even the 9/11 commission report, accused of going easy on this administration, found that bin Laden was no friend of Saddam, and that he “at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan.”

As James Bovard wrote in “Saddam as the Twentieth Hijacker”

“It is vital to recognize how persistently and intently Bush exploited Americans’ fears on the Saddam–al-Qaeda link to justify his preemptive assault against Iraq.

In a memo President Bush sent on March 18, 2003, notifying Congress that he was launching the war against Iraq, he declared that he was acting,
to "take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

Bush invoked this justification even though his administration had never offered a shred of evidence tying Saddam to 9/11. But the Saddam–al-Qaeda link was the key to the administration’s exploitation of the ignorance of the American people. Bush and team continually threw out new accusations and then backed off, knowing that few people were paying close enough attention to recognize that previous charges had collapsed like a row of houses of cards.”

It was a drawn out pattern of deceit. As have been virtually all aspects of his presidency.

Happily for the administration, after more than a year of such obfuscation, by the early spring of 2003, more than 70% of Americans believed Iraq was involved in 9/11, although the people in the administration knew that was not the case.

The most recent in a stream of government operatives, Paul Pillar, who was national intelligence officer for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, has now come forward and stated the Bush administration simply was not interested in obtaining accurate intelligence in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to go to war, they only wanted intelligence that would shore up the decision they had already made.

They had been intent on going to war with Iraq since the early days of their administration. September 11th gave them what Condi Rice called “opportunities” to advance their agenda. Confused and frightened people are easier to lead. And the media did its part by doing little to investigate Bush administration claims or to hold them accountable for their words.

Even after the war began, the lies continued. At a press conference where reporters actually have an opportunity to question the president, Bush said “We gave him [Saddam] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in.” On July 14, 2003, the press corps just let that outrageous lie go by, and there was no widespread discussion of it on the media talk shows in the days and weeks following.

Limbaugh, et. al. would have screamed for weeks and everyone would have known about it if such a blatant lie had been told by Clinton. Can anyone doubt this?

On September 17, 2003, in response to a minor spurt of actual serious questioning by the press, Bush himself was forced to say “We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the events of 11th September.”

Too bad the media did not spend as many weeks discussing that pronouncement as they did the stain on Monica’s blue dress.

On a positive note, more than 80% of the troops surveyed said they did not hold a negative view of Iraqis because of continuing attacks against them, but a majority of respondents (53%) said if it wants to control the insurgency, the U.S. should double both the number of troops and bombing missions -- an option no one in Washington is considering. Such a response would almost certainly require a draft, and clueless as they are, the chicken hawk-in-chief and his 5 deferment sidekick do realize that if they reinstated the draft, their self-satisfied, rich and upper middle-class supporters--faced with the possibility of having to go to war themselves or of their kids having to go to war -- would rise up out of their complacency and demand the troops come home now.

If a fair draft were reinstated, the war mongering neocons know they would lose much of their already diminishing support.

Proving that our soldiers are more decent than their commander-in-chief and his Veep, even though 85% of them believe Iraqis were involved in 9/11, a majority of troops -55% - are against using harsh interrogation methods or torturing prisoners – something Bush and Cheney both insist they will do if they want to.

72% of American troops in Iraq believe the U. S. should leave the country within the next year. 29% believe we should pull out our troops immediately while only 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed.” But, our “commander-in-chief,” the “Coward Cast in Bronze,” says we must stay the course.

A soldier who served two tours in Iraq as an Arab interpreter, and who is better informed than most of his fellows had this to say about “staying the course.”

“There are battles which need to be fought and there are battles which serve no good purpose. Afghanistan and Bin Laden lay forgotten as if they were discarded toys left by a spoiled child. Iraq is the new frontier of poor foreign policy and poor planning. Even the soldiers can see it. Why do you think nobody is re-enlisting? They don't want…to fight a lo[o]sing battle and to die for an empty promise…that somehow staying in Iraq makes America safer.

We have created a martyr factory here, and we are beginning to wade through the next Vietnam. How wrong do you want to be before you…send the troops home? 2,000 dead?… How about 10,000?”

It should serve as a warning to Republicans that the soldier who wrote those words was a staunch Republican when he began his service, but that is no longer the case. It is no coincidence that all but one of the Iraq veterans running for Congress – doubtless better informed than most soldiers -- are running as Democrats.

Meanwhile, Bush, busy cutting funding for education, health care, and other programs that help the less fortunate, and working mightily to throw as much “war” money at favorite war profiteers as possible before even more of the American public catches on to and rebels against the great con, is accomplishing a two-fold purpose:

1. More poor kids desperate for money or desperate to find a way to fund their future college educations, or to be ensured health care they cannot afford to pay for, will by coerced into enlisting in the military by those factors plus the outrageous bribes now being offered as enlistment bonuses.

2. His never wavering promotion of continued tax cuts for the rich and corporations ensures that he and his family and rich friends whose kids are not serving in Iraq pay even less taxes on their ever increasing war-profiteering “blood money.” Many members of the Bush and Cheney families as well as other major players in this administration –already the richest administration in history -- will be personally much wealthier when Bush leaves the office he was not elected to in the first place.

It is almost a certainty that very few of the soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan come from families who are deliberately profiting from war.

But, to those who are getting rich from defense contractor profits -- the Bush family and Cheney and other members of current and former administrations – and to the reporters and talking heads of the main stream media, virtually all of whom avoided military service themselves, the soldiers being maimed, both physically and mentally, and those dying in Iraq to line the pockets of this administration’s corporate campaign contributors and members of their own families are only “other people’s kids.”

Submitters Bio:

Lonna Gooden VanHorn was born and raised on a small farm in Minnesota. She is the mother of 6, a grandmother, and the wife of a Vietnam veteran.

Formerly a person who did not "get involved" in controversy, the constant lies and deceit of the Bush administration have motivated her to become a trouble maker in her old age.

Archives of some of her articles may be accessed "here"

"here" and "here"

Click here to view her "book on wheels"

Activist, Mother of six. Wife of a Vietnam veteran.