This system has become so brutal and vicious and cruel that it needs to start wars and profit from the destruction around the world in order to survive as a world power.
– Zack De La Rocha
It’s no easy task in this age of information saturation and baffling backwards rhetoric to find a suitable version of the truth on which to base our decisions. It can be a tiring experience to separate fact from propaganda these days, and it’s easy to be lulled into compliance, into complacence, to slip into the warm bath of distraction and inertia as such a vast majority of this great country’s population has. Nevertheless, there are indisputable hard facts about the Bush administration, particularly in the way they’ve handled the war in Iraq, the soldiers returning home and the tidal wave of doubletruths that we feel need to be brought further into the light. Our goal is to piss you off, inspire you to do your own research, find your own truths, and take action.
After the initial invasion of Iraq by the U.S. military, our soldiers were greeted as liberators by the Iraqi people, overjoyed to be freed from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Driving through the streets of Baghdad just a few years ago, American forces were met with cheers, children running alongside the armored vehicles screaming “America! America!” – a wet dream photo op for the Bush administration. However, over an alarmingly brief timespan, the atmosphere somehow shifted. Iraqi civilians had been under the impression that their living conditions would improve with the arrival of U.S. forces and Saddam’s removal from power, but very little positive change has actually occurred since Hussein’s fall. We simply had no plan beyond removing Hussein from power and seizing control of the country’s resources. Conditions quickly worsened without a governing power to aid the people, and electricity, safe drinking water and organized facilities remain scarce to this very day.
There weren’t enough troops on the ground to control the borders or prevent the looting that was occurring amid the confusion following the fall of Hussein’s government. There had been virtually no training to prepare American soldiers for Iraqi culture, and communication with civilians was nearly impossible. Troops have also been faced with an enemy that fades into the population after attacking, causing a dramatic rise in civilian casualties as American forces attempt to weed them out. Due to the barriers in communication and the sharply rising number of civilian casualties, resentment has risen rapidly among the Iraqi people. The native population has grown to despise the American presence in their region.
By 2004, despite Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” declaration the previous year, the insurgency was full-blown and both Americans and Iraqis were dying at unprecedented rates every single day. The vast majority of casualties in the war in Iraq have occurred after May 1, 2003, the day Bush so proudly declared an end to major military combat operations in Iraq. As of this morning, 3,927 Americans have given their lives to this “war,” while more than 28,870 American soldiers have been wounded.
January 10th, 2008 marked the one year anniversary of Bush’s “surge” strategy. Many analysts are now calling the surge a success, but with no end in sight to the war, the success doesn’t seem to be amounting to much. There has been a recent downward trend in casualties for both Iraqis and U.S. soldiers, but a single-minded focus on casualties means ignoring the internal problems in Iraq that could cause the violence to rise to new heights this year. Much of the decrease in violence is a result of the United States cutting deals with Sunni insurgents, while the U.S. military continues to recruit and train members of the Iraqi military and police, both of which are heavily dominated by Shiites. Arming and training these two groups has all but guaranteed a very bloody conflict between the rival factions in the near future.
We’re only now beginning to see just how much of a clusterfuck the Bush administration has made of this war, especially in the back end. There is no present exit strategy, and there was none when we invaded Iraq. The security of this country is more compromised now than it has been in generations. Our military investment in Iraq is so extensive that we’re presently unable to defend ourselves on the homefront. It has become such a drain on our military resources that we’ve had to move our troops out of places like Korea to put them in Iraq. National Guard and reserve units that should be protecting the homefront are now in Iraq. We’re told that this entire fiasco is to make America a safer place, but strategically, our back door is being left wide open. We’re overextended. It’s going to take a significant amount of time to repair the damage done to the U.S. military by this war.
The psychological toll this war has taken on American soldiers is only now beginning to show. A sharp increase in the mistreatment of noncombatants (damaging/destroying Iraqi property when not necessary or attacking a non-combatant when not necessary) by soldiers on their third and fourth deployments has been reported, as well as those whose deployments have been extended. These are men and women that have a desire not only to build their strength of character and provide for their loved ones by serving in the armed forces, but to believe in what they’re doing, to believe that the orders they’re following are guided with at least a basic level of sensibility and intelligence. They are being pushed beyond their limits, however, and statistics are showing that there is a definite consequence to the repeated extensions of duty.
The current approach to our country’s occupation of Iraq is running our military into the ground. We are still the strongest military in the world, but the pace we’re currently keeping in Iraq is unsustainable. In short, the United States of America can remain the superpower that we are, or we can have an all-volunteer army. We cannot have both for much longer. Recruiting numbers are understandably dwindling, retention numbers are weakening, and we continue to send people back to Iraq for third and fourth tours, when troop morale is reaching an all-time low.
Not only is our Warmonger in Chief leaving us desperately short on military resources here at home, but his administration has shown what seems to be a near-malicious contempt for the very soldiers he’s relying on to clean up his mess. 1.8 million American soldiers have been through Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. One third of all those soldiers are going to experience some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, and readjusting is going to be an incredibly difficult process for most troops coming home. So far, this administration has denied medical benefits to 22,000 veterans suffering from post traumatic stress by discharging them for having enlisted with “pre-existing personality disorders.”
Between 8 and 10 percent of the nearly 12,000 U.S. soldiers treated at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany had “psychiatric or behavioral health issues,” according to the commander of the hospital, Col. Rhonda Cornum.
The longest-serving National Guard unit in Iraq was sent home after 729 days of combat – just one day shy of the 730 days that the soldiers needed to qualify for education benefits. Incredibly, there have also been reports that soldiers discharged early because of battlefield injuries have had to repay their enlistment bonuses.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, a system that thousands of troops will need to rely on, is badly underfunded and has been totally neglected under the Bush administration. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that at this very moment, about 195,000 veterans are homeless. At this very moment, according to Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, there are at least 1,500 homeless veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. His organization is in touch with them every day, but without proper funding there’s very little that can be done to help these rejected heroes.
How are these things possible? It takes nothing less than deliberate effort to ignore these problems.
The connection between supporting the war and supporting the troops that is a stark example of hyperpatriotism being used to control American opinion. Even now, more than half a decade after the initial frenzied call to patriotism, the Bush administration is continuing to base the entire psychological currency of this war on making us believe that you can’t oppose a policy without opposing a people. We are supposed to forget that it is not treasonous to question authority, when that is exactly what the current foundation of this country was built upon.
Anti-war is not anti-troops. In this age of sensory overload, of illegal government wiretapping and causes designed to fit the effect, it can be hard to muster the energy to resist an administration and the right-wing zealot cheerleaders that try desperately to connect the two. One of the most dangerous, insidious things that Bush administration has done is to give the repeated and unmistakable impression that to question Bush’s decisions on the war is to commit treason. Mindless advocacy of the war is exactly what their goal is. To win at all costs, to smother the world in “freedom” and democracy.
But how do you win a war on terror, when terrorism is subjective and constantly moving?
How many people in the world consider US to be the terrorists?
There has been a concerted effort among in the media, complicit from the get-go with an administration based on secrecy and fascist propaganda, to shield the American public from the real American cost of this war. Have you ever seen a picture of a dead American in the media? Showing such an image, a casket of a fallen soldier returning home in any form of print seems to be considered nothing short of an attempt to undermine the war effort, resulting in accusations of anti-patriotism shot like arrows dipped in shit. Taking such a bold step would inevitably affect ad dollars, just a few dominoes shy of completely shutting down whatever publication had the balls to show such unspinnable truths. We’re a nation in love with our gluttonous obsessions with distraction and celebrity, and we’ve been desensitized to the point where we simply have no emotional connection to the fact that nearly 4,000 U.S. troops have already given their lives to an illegal war based on false intelligence. To come face to face with the Americans whose lives were sacrificed for these lies would be to shatter the veil of saccharine distraction. Perhaps then we would be moved to demand answers that can’t be explained away with circular logic and fascist mantras.
Very few people are asking Bush direct, hard-hitting questions, and those that do are provided with the same feeble, flag-waving good-versus-evil blanket rhetoric that we’ve all come to expect from an administration shrouded in secrecy and illusion. The idiot cowboy has been well-prepped by his entourage, who have had nearly eight years to perfect corruption. The hypocrisy of our military conduct in other countries, in direct conflict with international law, is indefensible. Rather than create an open, honest dialogue with the American public about the concerns each and every one of us have regarding what’s being done in our name, our president spends his time fanning the war flames with misinformation, calls to patriotism, to “stay the course” while beating the war drum harder than ever.
Bush has now set his sights on Iran, going so far as to make thinly veiled threats of World War III despite the NIE report on Iran indicating their abandonment of the pursuit to obtain the technology to create a nuclear weapon more than four years ago. But as with Iraq, the gears of deception are revving once again for another war based on false pretense. This is just another in a long list of examples displaying how willfully and astonishingly ignorant the entire Bush administration prides themselves on being. As MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann put it, “It is the nightmare scenario of political science fiction: a critical juncture in our history and… a president manifestly unfit to serve, and behind him in the vice presidency, an unapologetic warmonger who has long been seeing a world visible only to himself.” The entire video is available here:
It’s never too late to ask questions. To listen to the feeling in your gut, the little voice in your head telling you that something just doesn’t fit. After all, post-9/11 hysteria is the carefully cultivated fuel that powered the massive machine to invade Iraq. But whatever happened to finding Osama Bin Laden? Perhaps next time we’ll examine the connections between the Bin Laden and Bush families.
A new president doesn’t mean a clean slate. It will take generations to undo what has been done in the past eight years. If we don’t hold those behind the wheel accountable for the path they take us down, we have no right to complain about who gets run over. It’s time to overcome the warm blanket of ignorance we’re collectively cuddled beneath, having no real grasp of the culture and conflicts of the Middle East. The same ignorance that was undeniably used to propagate an invasion based on lies and an agenda entirely separate from what we’re being sold. It’s time to turn off the disposable nonsense we’re trained to fill our minds with every day, to begin paying real attention to real issues, taking the time to come to a better understanding of the quagmire this country has allowed itself to be suckered into. It’s time to start taking the power back.