War and profit: Deciphering what it means to be in the U.S. military

March Forward! Against War and Racism

© copyright 2009 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

From the newsletter of March Forward!

We join the military for many different reasons. Some of us want to have access to a college education. Some of us want job training and a steady paycheck. Some of us join to get U.S. citizenship. Some of us need to get out of debt or need to get off a destructive path. Some of us join out of pride, patriotism and a genuine desire to be a part of some greater, collective good. Many of us made the decision early-while still in high school, enticed by recruiters’ promises of cash bonuses, adventure and opportunity-while some of us joined after years as a worker, drawn by the military’s full health care and housing benefits.

Whatever the reason, we all found ourselves wearing the uniform of the U.S. military. What did we actually join? What is the role of the U.S. military in the world? What does it mean to be a soldier following the dictates of U.S. foreign policy? When we sign ourselves away to the military, what are we being used to do?

In recent years, many of us ended up in Iraq or Afghanistan. We are told that as a soldier in the U.S. military we are defending the interests of the United States. This does have an ounce of truth-but only an ounce. We are defending the interests of a particular class in the United States. It is only a wealthy minority whose interests are being defended in Iraq, Afghanistan and the more than 130 countries where U.S. troops are stationed.

In whose interests do we serve?

I was sent to Iraq believing we would be helping the Iraqi people. Once the illusions of pride and patriotism crumbled, I realized I was never sent to help anyone. I kicked down their doors and dragged them from their homes. I robbed them of their humanity in interrogation cells. I watched the life ripped out of them. I saw children torn to shreds. I witnessed my friends disabled by physical and/or psychological trauma. All this suffering and destruction for “Iraqi Freedom,” which really means the freedom of a new U.S.-installed government to hand over control of its natural resources to U.S. corporations.

It wasn’t much different for those soldiers sent to Korea, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama or other countries that have been targets of U.S. intervention over the past half-century and more.

We are taught the United States stands for freedom and democracy, and that military force is used to defend or further those ideals. This is echoed constantly throughout our lives, in school and in the media. It is woven into the fabric of our national identity, making it possible for people to accept the deaths of U.S. soldiers in foreign lands, as long as they are assured they died in the interests of democracy.

History of U.S. conflicts

However, reviewing the history of conflicts in which the U.S. military has been involved tells a completely different story. The U.S. government does not have a history of supporting democratic movements, but rather a history of overthrowing them. Among those countries whose popularly elected governments have been crushed by the U.S. military and replaced by authoritarian and non-elected dictators are the Congo, Grenada, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Chile, Indonesia, Iran, Haiti-and the list goes on. Quite simply, this government – whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House-has no problem installing and backing oppressive dictatorships.

Understanding U.S. foreign policy becomes much easier if we stop looking at it in terms of “defending democracy,” and start looking at it in terms of economic interests. It is not the form of a foreign government that determines whether it ends up in the crosshairs of the U.S. government, but whether or not that government will give U.S. businesses access to its markets, labor force and natural resources. This explains why the United States supports governments with some of the worst human rights records, like Colombia, or Saudi Arabia, which has never had an election in its history! U.S. corporations reap billions of dollars in profits from these countries.

U.S. foreign policy really boils down to ensuring the extraction of wealth from the developing world by U.S. corporations. In the words of two-time Medal of Honor winner Major General Smedley Butler: “I spent 33 years in the Marines. Most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.”

Claims that the Pentagon only works to defend the United States and spread democracy fall apart when you look at the current use of the military. It is now obvious that Saddam Hussein posed no threat to the United States, nor did the U.S. government care about the well-being of the Iraqi people. A quarter of Iraq’s population of 26 million people has been killed, wounded or displaced since the illegal U.S. invasion on March 19, 2003. Iraq sits atop a massive supply of petroleum, all of which was nationalized and closed to U.S. corporations’ control under Saddam Hussein.

The role of banks and big business

The banks and Wall Street exert dominating influence over U.S. foreign policy. Our “democracy” is reserved for those who have millions of dollars to run for office, and who are funded by (and ultimately beholden to) corporate interests. Our “free press” is owned by only five mega-corporations who directly profit from the military-industrial complex and distort reality to shape public opinion accordingly.

The ruling class of Wall Street CEOs, bankers and their loyal politicians has the power to annihilate an entire country for profit-but they never fight in these wars themselves. So they have to find a way to convince the average worker that these wars are worth fighting. They must find a way to convince working-class people that we should kill and die to make the rich ruling class even richer.

Our enemy is not on the other side of the world; that enemy is in the corporate boardrooms and the Pentagon Brass. Defeating that enemy means refusing to take part in their imperialist plans and organizing together to demand real justice.

Green Zone handover: The farce of Iraqi sovereignty?

© copyright 2009 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

Originally Published, Thursday, January 8, 2009

Only end of occupation can restore self-determination!

The author is an Iraq war veteran.

On the heels of the Status of Forces Agreement, the Iraqi flag was raised for the first time since the 2003 invasion in a symbolic handover of the Green Zone to the Iraqi government.

The Green Zone is a 5.6-square-mile community along the west side of the Tigris River in central Baghdad. It is home to roughly 30,000 residents, including 14,000 U.S. and coalition forces. For nearly six years, the Green Zone has been used to paint a picture of stability and U.S. success in Iraq. When U.S. and foreign politicians visit occupied Iraq, they stroll around the Green Zone, being shown beautiful gardens and lavish palaces that paint a picture of a safe and successful occupation.

But the Green Zone itself is nothing more than a public relations prop and a headquarters for the military brass, private military contractors, and Western corporations to conduct their affairs in luxury. It is off limits to most Iraqi citizens.

Its relative safety is due to a 13-foot concrete wall, miles of barbed wire, machine gun nests every few hundred meters and tightly controlled entry points. Anyone entering the Green Zone is searched thoroughly with high-tech devices such as body scanners. While the Green Zone is frequently attacked from outside with rockets and mortars, there have been few attacks within its walls due to the overwhelming security measures.

The situation just outside the walls of the Green Zone is drastically different. The Green Zone sits in one of the areas where the Iraqi resistance is strongest. Residents outside its walls must cope daily with the severe manifestations of the occupation-extreme poverty and violence.

With U.S. officials coordinating every aspect of Iraqi governance from within its walls, the Green Zone has long been a symbol of U.S. colonial occupation in Iraq. But now, in a move to further tout the occupation, the Green Zone is being manipulated to become a symbol of Iraqi sovereignty.

The handover of the Green Zone, in fact, does nothing except place Iraqi guards in charge of security. Essentially, the “sovereignty” heralded by the handover only gives the Iraqi security forces backed by Washington the sovereignty to protect their occupiers as they continue business as usual within its walls.

Public spectacle changes nothing

Still, Iraq’s puppet president, al-Maliki, declared Jan. 1 a national holiday titled “Sovereignty Day.” A banner at the transition ceremony read in Arabic, “Receiving the security of the Green Zone is a major step toward full independence and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.” Once the ceremony concluded, the banner was taken down, and behind it was a sign listing a set of rules created by the U.S. military. (Washington Post, Jan. 1)

While the Iraqi security force in the Green Zone-the “Baghdad Brigade”-has supposedly been put in charge, that too is a farce. The Baghdad Brigade is under direct control of President al-Maliki-a U.S. puppet whose government would collapse without Washington’s backing. Furthermore, U.S. forces will continue to be in direct control of security for the next 90 days, at which point the arrangement will be “re-evaluated.” While the Status of Forces Agreement mandates that U.S. forces in the Green Zone come under Iraqi control, U.S. officials have acknowledged that how and when that will happen is uncertain, and unlikely for the time being.

Even if the Baghdad Brigade does officially control security in the Green Zone, it will only be under the strict watchful eye of the U.S. forces. Baghdad Brigade commander Brigadier General Emad al-Zuhairi said, “The Americans will supervise us.” (Washington Post, Jan. 1)

Majid Mola, a resident of Baghdad, commented on how he viewed the newly gained “sovereignty”: “Where are the government services? Where is the electricity? People want practical things.” (Reuters, Jan. 1)

The handover of the Green Zone serves only to improve the public image of a brutal occupation that has killed more than 1 million Iraqis, displaced 4.5 million more, and plunged the Iraqi population into deep poverty. The symbolic handover should be seen for what it is: a public-relations ploy detached from the reality on the ground. While the Iraqi flag now flies over the hub of the occupation, nothing has changed for the Iraqi people.

Raising the Iraqi flag is a symbolic step that brings Iraqis no closer to sovereignty, but is a real step towards cementing U.S. imperialism’s geopolitical and economic goals. Real sovereignty requires an immediate end to U.S. occupation and intervention-a goal the Iraqi people have bravely been fighting for, and for which they deserve our full support.

Recession and the Iraq War; A Soldier’s Story

A soldier’s story is our story.  On this April afternoon, I attended a memorial.  Americans in my local community, as well as those in every other region of the country, mourned the recession. People pondered the reality; this war affects our daily lives and our fiscal stability.  In my neighborhood, Michael Prysner, an Iraq War veteran offered his theory on the theme, Recession and the Iraq War; A Soldier’s Story.  I share an introduction to his tale and an invitation.  Please peruse the musings of Michael Prysner.

Twas the day before any other day in the lives of average Americans.  It was April 24, 2008.  Countless people traveled about in late model luxury automobiles.  A few could not afford such finery.  Still, those of lesser means were able to retain a vehicle of sorts.  In the United States, a motorized metal chariot is considered a must.  In many nations, car ownership is thought lavish.  Certainly, those with money enough to drive from place to place have not a care in the world.  Yet, here most individuals in carriages are stressed.  

In every neighborhood, numerous persons are now out on the street.  Some only have a car to count on.  They do not have the money to purchase the petroleum needed to run the vehicle.  The price of fuel is high and steadily climbing.  Rates of unemployment have increased.  Job security decreased.  The value of homes has dropped.  However, few citizens can afford to remain in what was once their shelter.  Foreclosures are frequent.  Mortgage brokers and a lack of reasonable banking regulations have helped to create a meltdown within the marketplace.

In America, there is an economic crisis.  The government cannot assist the common folk.  All available funds are spent on wars in the Middle East.  Residents in the richest country in the world are worried.  Will they survive?

This was the question asked at vigils throughout the nation.  In conjunction with MoveOn.org people in this country spoke of how the Persian Gulf wars have affected the economy.  Recession and the Iraq War were the themes.  In Boca Raton, Florida Mike Prysner, an Iraq war veteran spoke of his experience in country and how those relate to the fiscal calamity Americans face.

May I introduce Michael Prysner and his Winter Soldier testimony.  With permission from the informed, informative, and inspirational author, it is my great honor to present  . . .

Winter Soldier Mike Prysner testimony, Pt1

A soldier’s story?

© copyright 2008 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

Originally published on Friday, March 21, 2008

Michael Prysner’s Winter Soldier testimony

The following statement was delivered at the Winter Soldier event, organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, and held in Washington, D.C. from March 13 through March 16. The event featured the testimony of numerous Iraq war veterans about their personal experiences. The author is an Iraq war veteran and the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s congressional candidate in Florida’s 22nd District.

When I first joined the army, we were told that racism no longer existed in the military. A legacy of inequality and discrimination was suddenly washed away by something called “Equal Opportunity.” We would sit through mandatory classes, ensuring us that racism had been eliminated from the ranks, and every unit had its own EO representative to ensure no elements of racism could resurface. The Army seemed firmly dedicated to smashing any hint of racism.

And then Sept. 11 happened. I began to hear new words like “towel head,” “camel jockey” and-the most disturbing-“sand n*gg*r.” These words did not initially come from my fellow soldiers, but from my superiors-my platoon sergeant, my company first sergeant, my battalion commander. All the way up the chain of command, viciously racist terms were suddenly acceptable.

I noticed that the most overt racism came from veterans of the first Gulf War. Those were the words they used when they were incinerating civilian convoys. Those were the words they used when this government deliberately targeted the civilian infrastructure, bombing water supplies knowing that it would kill hundreds of thousands of children. Those were the words the American people used when they allowed this government to sanction Iraq-and this is something many people forget. We’ve just learned that we’ve killed over 1 million Iraqis since the invasion; we had already killed a million Iraqis before the invasion throughout the 90s through bombings and sanctions.

‘Haji’ was the enemy

When I got to Iraq in 2003, I learned a new word-“Haji.” Haji was the enemy. Haji was every Iraqi. He was not a person, or a father, or a teacher, or a worker. But where does this word come from? Every Muslim strives to take a pilgrimage to Mecca, called a Haj. A Muslim who has completed that pilgrimage is a Haji. It is something that, in traditional Islam, is the highest calling in the religion-essentially, the best thing for a Muslim made into the worst thing.

But history did not start with us. Since the creation of this country, racism has been used to justify expansion and oppression. The Native Americans were called savages. The Africans were called all sorts of things to excuse slavery. A multitude of names were used during Vietnam to justify that imperialist war.

So Haji was the word we used on this mission. We’ve heard a lot about raids during Winter Soldier, kicking down people’s doors and ransacking their homes. But this mission was a different kind of raid. We never got any explanation for these orders, we were only told that this group of five or six houses were now property of the U.S. military. We had to go in and make those people leave those houses.

So we went to these houses and told the people that their homes were no longer their homes. We provided them no alternative, no place to go, no compensation. They were very confused and scared, and would not leave-so we had to remove them from their houses.

There was one family in particular that stands out: a woman with two young daughters, an elderly man who was bed-ridden and two middle-aged men. We dragged them from their houses and threw them onto the street. We arrested the men for not leaving and sent them to prison with the Iraqi police.

At that time I didn’t know what happened to Iraqis when we put a sandbag over their head and tied their hands behind their back; unfortunately, a couple months later, I had to find out. Our unit was short interrogators, so I was tasked to assist with interrogations.

A detainee’s ordeal

First, I’d like to point out that the vast majority of detainees I encountered had done nothing wrong. They were arrested for things as simple as being in the area when an IED went off, or living in a village where a suspected insurgent lived.

I witness and participated in many interrogations; one in particular I’d like to share. It was a moment for me that helped me realize the nature of our occupation.

This detainee who I was sent to interrogate was stripped down to his underwear, hands bound behind his back and a sandbag on his head-and I never actually saw his face. My job was to take a metal folding chair, and as he was standing face-first against the wall, I was to smash the chair next to his head every time he was asked a question. A fellow soldier would yell the same question over and over, and no matter what he answered, I would smash the chair next to his head.

We did this until we got tired, then I was told to make sure he stayed standing facing the wall. By this time he was in an extremely broken state-he was shaking uncontrollably, he was crying, and he was covered in his own urine.

I was guarding him, but something was wrong with his leg-he was injured and kept falling to the ground. My sergeant told me to make sure he stayed standing, so I would have to pick him up and slam him against the wall. He kept falling down so I’d have to keep picking him up and forcefully putting him against the wall.

My sergeant came by, and was upset that he was on the ground again, so he picked him up and slammed him against the wall several times-and when the man fell to the ground again I noticed blood pouring down from under the sandbag.

So I let him sit, and whenever my sergeant starting coming I would warn the man and tell him to stand. It was then that I realized that I was supposed to be guarding my unit from this detainee, but what I was doing was guarding this detainee from my unit.

I tried hard to be proud of my service. All I could feel was shame.

Face of occupation is laid bare

Racism could no longer mask the reality of the occupation. These were people. These were human beings. I have since been plagued by guilt-anytime I see an elderly man, like the one who couldn’t walk, who we rolled onto a stretcher and told the Iraqi police to take him away. I feel guilt anytime I see a mother with her children, like the one who cried hysterically, and screamed that we were worse than Saddam as we forced her from her home. I feel guilt anytime I see a young girl, like the one I grabbed by the arm and dragged into the street.

We were told we were fighting terrorists. The real terrorist was me. The real terrorism is this occupation.

Racism within the military has long been an important tool to justify the destruction and occupation of another country. It has long been used to justify the killing, subjugation, and torture of another people. Racism is a vital weapon employed by this government. It is a more important weapon that a rifle, or a tank, or a bomber, or a battleship. It is more destructive than an artillery shell, or a bunker buster, or a tomahawk missile.

While all those weapons are created and owned by this government, they are harmless without people willing to use them. Those who send us to war do not have to pull a trigger or lob a mortar round; they don’t have to fight the war, they merely have to sell us the war. They need a public who is willing to send their soldiers into harm’s way, and they need soldiers who are willing to kill and be killed, without question. They can spend millions on a single bomb-but that bomb only becomes a weapon when the ranks in the military are willing to follow the orders to use it. They can send every last soldier anywhere on earth, but there will only be a war if soldiers are willing to fight.

The ruling class-the billionaires who profit from human suffering, who care only about expanding their wealth and controlling the world economy-understand that their power lies only in their ability to convince us that war, oppression, and exploitation is in our interest. They understand that their wealth is dependent on their ability to convince the working class to die to control the market of another country. And convincing us to die and kill is based on their ability to make us think that we are somehow superior.

Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen have nothing to gain from this war. The vast majority of people living in the United States have nothing to gain from this war. In fact, not only do soldiers and workers gain nothing from this occupation, but we suffer more because of it. We lose the limbs, endure the trauma, and give our lives. Our families have to watch flag-draped coffins lowered into the earth. Millions in this country without health care, jobs, or access to education must watch this government squander over $400 million a day on this war.

The real enemy is here

Poor and working people in this country are sent to kill poor and working people in another country, to make the rich richer. Without racism, soldiers would realize that they have more in common with the Iraqi people than they do with the billionaires who send us to war. I threw people onto the street in Iraq, only to come home and find families here thrown onto the street in this tragic and unnecessary foreclosure crisis that is already leaving hundreds of Iraq war veterans homeless.

We need to wake up and realize that our real enemies are not in some distant land; they’re not people whose names we don’t know and whose cultures we don’t understand. The enemy is people we know well and people we can identify-the enemy is the system that sends us to war when it’s profitable; the enemies are the CEOs who lay us off from our jobs when its profitable; they’re the insurance companies who deny us health care when it’s profitable; they’re the banks that take away our homes when it’s profitable.

Our enemies are not 5,000 miles away. They are right here at home, and if we organize and fight with our sisters and brothers we can stop this war, stop this government, and create a better world.

Winter Soldier Mike Prysner testimony, Pt2

Iraqi Christians, Orphans, and Her Son; Why Cathy Supports Barack Obama

Persecution of Iraqi Christians

A mail entered my electronic inbox.  The title was “Five years later in Iraq.”  As the anniversary of American led attacks in the Middle East approached, and passed, many messages referenced the subject.  The correspondence from Cathy struck me.  This communication was a personal plea.  As the mother of a former American soldier, Cathy shared her sorrow.  She spoke of hope, and told readers of her son.  Cathy, Mom, also mentioned why she would support Barack Obama in 2008.

The young man Cathy raised to adulthood, had served his time in Iraq.  Twenty-four months ago, her child, now a man, was stationed in Iraq.  Although his tour of duty expired, his commitment to the inhabitants of this war torn territory had not.  Cathy’s son decided to remain in country.  

This compassionate and generous gentle-man could not leave the people he had learned to love behind.  Cathy’s son, no longer a lad, felt a need to help the orphaned children he saw daily.  While the mother of a former soldier resides in the United States, her heart lives in Iraq.  Cathy offers her tale.  The tapestry that ties us together is revealed on Easter Sunday.

I wanted to share with you why I am voting for Senator Obama.  

My son is in Iraq working to provide through the very few Christian churches left in Baghdad, the necessities of life that our Administration destroyed via this war.  He is putting his life on the line every day going in to the worst sections to bring clothing, food, water, bedding and most importantly health care.  

Our Administration is not speaking to these issues.  Our Administration is not helping the Iraqi people with these necessities.  

Orphaned children are living on the streets in the garbage dumps.  There is no health care there is little medicines.

The churches left in Baghdad are trying to provide shelter.  It is difficult and hard to turn anyone away.  The need is enormous.  

My son has coordinated help from his hometown church here in the US.  They are providing some medicines and money to buy food and necessities.  He has found people to help by wanting to build an orphanage in Baghdad.  This will take a long time.  

The churches in Baghdad are secretly working with my son, who just two years ago was a soldier in the US Army.  I am so proud of my son and I fear daily for his life.  

Tomorrow he will be attending a service for Easter with the Reverend Canon Andrew White in Baghdad.  The Iraqi Christians are so excited for this visit.  My son has become one of their beloved.  I have forwarded an email below that I received back in November 2007.  [The correspondence] shares a little of what has happened in Iraq.  

I wish I could share with you more at this time, but the safety of these people are at stake and I must be careful with what I print.  I believe that Senator Obama can help these people that our Administration has grossly neglected.  I pray he will.  God Bless you this Easter.  


—–Original Message—–

From: Canon Andrew P B White; On Behalf Of Canon Andrew P B White

Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2007 4:41 PM

(CBS) — An Anglican clergyman in Baghdad, who has seen his flock murdered and forced into exile by Muslim extremists, says Christians there are worse off now than under Saddam’s rule and are probably suffering more than any time in history.

The Rev. Canon Andrew White, an Anglican priest known as the “Vicar of Baghdad,” speaks to 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley for a segment on the persecution of Christians in Iraq to be broadcast this Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

“There’s no comparison between Iraq now and [under Saddam],” says White.  “Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians – probably ever in history,” he tells Pelley, referring to the nearly 2,000 years of Christian history in the area.  That’s because White estimates that 90 percent of Iraq’s Christians, once thought to number over a million, have either fled or have been murdered by Islamic extremists during the religious civil war.

That includes his own church leaders and most of the men of his parish.  “They are mainly killed.  Some are kidnapped,” says White.  “Here in this church, all of my leadership were originally taken and killed.”  Their bodies were never recovered.  “This is one of the problems.  I regularly do funerals here, but it’s not easy to get the bodies,” White tells Pelley.

White invited 60 Minutes cameras to an underground Baghdad service for what’s left of his congregation, mostly the old, the ill, and those who cannot afford to flee.  The purge is almost complete in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad, once a Christian stronghold, and the recent surge of American troops also has stemmed some of the violence.  “I don’t see a lot of [Christian murder victims] anymore,” says Army Col. Rick Gibbs.  “But when we first arrived, we saw lots of that.  It would not surprise my soldiers to walk down a street on patrol and see three or four bodies laying in the street with a bullet behind their head,” says Gibbs.

At the height of the violence, churches were bombed and the Army did not guard them, Gibbs says.  “[Christians] feel that if we are overtly protecting the churches, that someone underground covertly will come in and murder the Christians because they are collaborating with the U.S. forces,” Gibbs tells Pelley.

It all started after the invasion, says a young Christian who did not want to be identified.  “[Muslim extremists] were telling us that Christians were against Islam, that we’re infidels, that women shouldn’t drive and that a woman who doesn’t wear a head scarf should get her head cut off,” he says.  “I thought, ‘What are we, going back to the Middle Ages?'”

It’s all happening because religion can go wrong, says White.  “When religion goes wrong, it kills others.  [Islam] has [gone wrong] and in the past, Christianity has gone wrong,” he says.

On this the most important of all Christian Holy Days,  and every day, let us take a moment to reflect on what is real for the innocent Iraqi civilians.  Let us not forget the children, born in a war torn Middle Eastern country, or here in the States.  May we acknowledge, that all our offspring are precious.  As parents, or as part of a world community, we are proud. We wish to provide the young with the best.  A world filled with harmony would be wondrous.

May we bequeath our brood with the gift of peace and understanding.

Today, whether you are religious, or merely devout in your devotion to humanity, may you join hands with your neighbor, and hope for a peace too long delayed.  Cathy, we are honored for this homage to your son, and to the children here and abroad.  We are grateful for those who care, Christians, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, atheist, and agnostics.  If only our current Administration helped us to believe that indeed, they were compassionate conservatives.

May peace be with you, with your sons and daughters, the orphans, Reverend Canon Andrew White, and all of us, everyone.

  • Vicar: Dire Times For Iraq’s Christians Assyrian International News Agency. November 29, 2007
  • Benazir Bhutto Rests In Peace. Will We?

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Millions of Americans awoke to the news; Benazir Bhutto was killed in an attack.  The daughter of a former Prime Minister, and twice Prime Minister herself, Bhutto, months ago returned to her homeland, after a self-imposed eight  year exile.

    The Harvard graduate ventured forth with a hope and a dream that she might unite her mother country.  The scion and scholar arrived in Pakistan amidst much fanfare and furor.

    Benazir Bhutto was a deeply controversial figure.

    Western-educated and charismatic, she presented herself as a moderate, democratic force. As such she was widely courted in the West. The United States hoped she could restore popular legitimacy to President Musharraf’s failing war against Islamist militants.

    But she was widely seen as having misused her office for her own financial gain and faced a number of court cases, both inside Pakistan and outside the country. Islamist militants hated her for her pro-American views.

    Earlier this year, Ms Bhutto and Mr Musharraf had been working on a power-sharing agreement. The talks failed, leaving Ms Bhutto as the biggest political threat to President Musharraf, rather than an ally.

    Therein lies the question many citizens of the United States ask.  Who, among the leaders in Pakistan is a friend to America and who is the foe.  Benazir Bhutto was our lover, devotee, and we her enthusiast.  Yet, for years the White House has happily courted the current President of Pakistan.

    Despite talk of terrorist encampments and anti-American sentiment within Pakistan, the Bush Administration spoke of General Musharraf as a friend of the States.  Oh, the President of the United States and President, General Pervez Musharraf had their differences.  There was a time when the leaders aired their angst aloud.  However, ultimately, the two kissed and made-up as couples often do.  The world powers then walked off into the sunset, hand-in-hand.  Each, revels in the joint venture to fight against Islamic insurgents.

    Granted, there were other rifts.  Commander-In-Chief, the American military commandant demanded that the General take off his uniform.  After Pakistani President, General Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law and suspended that nation’s Constitution, there was fear within the White House.  Federal officials stated our ally had gone too far. His decision to wear military garb exacerbated the situation.  An elected official cannot be considered militaristic.  During a telephone conference with the Middle Eastern Head of State, President and Commander George W. Bush expressed his distress with the man who supported the United States in its endeavor to spread democracy.

    “You can’t be the president and the head of the military at the same time,” Bush said. “I had a very frank discussion with him.” . . .

    “My message was that we believe strongly in elections, and that you ought to have elections soon, and you need to take off your uniform,” Bush said.

    Perhaps this derision was the last straw.  It was time to move on, move forward, or stay the course with a new face at the helm.  Certainly, there is no need to imagine; were Benazir Bhutto Prime Minister of Pakistan, she too would have joined US in combat against “terrorists.”

    The U.S. has long supported a return to power by Bhutto, who was perceived to be a moderate willing to work with Washington on the war on terror. She was also seen as a democratic leader who would serve as a counter to the plummeting popularity of Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 military coup. It was thought that a power-sharing deal between the two, in which Musharraf stayed on as president while Bhutto lead as prime minister, would promote stability in this nuclear armed nation of 165 million. But from the day of her arrival in Pakistan after eight years in exile, Bhutto’s return has been marred by violence.

    We can only surmise that the hostile environment did not worry the Americans, the Bush Administration much.  After all, aggression is the way of this White House.  It matters not who leads or lends a hand as we go into battle.  As long as the war continues, a surge strategy is maintained, and fear is sustained.  Then, the hawks win.  All must inquire; is that not the most important aspect of this New World Strategy.

    We can peruse the Pakistani papers.  We can read the rhetoric of the Right and the Left in America.  Candidates can recount their experience of Benazir Bhutto.  Still, there is reason to believe we know nothing of what really happened and why.  The common folk are not even certain they understand how to care for a tragic event that has now become a campaign battle cry.  Americans listen to the words of woe, and the warnings.  Again we are told, in the name of democracy, we are at war . . . and do not forget it!

    “The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy,” Bush said. “Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice.” . . .

    With the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses just a week away, U.S. presidential candidates also swiftly condemned the killing and stressed the need to fight terrorism.

    The assassins who killed Bhutto “must be brought to justice,” Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Thursday.

    “Her death is a tragedy for her country and a terrible reminder of the work that remains to bring peace, stability and hope to regions of the globe too often paralyzed by fear, hatred and violence,” said Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

    New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is trailing fellow Democrats Clinton and Barack Obama in polls, said a leader has died in Pakistan “but democracy must live.”

    “It is in the interests of the U.S. that there be a democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists,” Richardson said in a statement.

    Campaigning in Florida, current Iowa-caucus Republican frontrunner Mike Huckabee said he is “deeply troubled” by the news of Bhutto’s killing. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, said the U.S. must stand with moderate forces across the Islamic world “and together face the defining challenge of our generation — the struggle against violent, radical jihadists.”

    “For those who think Iraq is the sole front in the war on terror, one must look no further than what has happened today,” said Romney, a Republican. . . .

    Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center, said Bhutto’s death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere “is an enemy of freedom.”

    “We must redouble our efforts to win the terrorists’ war on us,” Giuliani said in a statement.

    “This is devastating news for the people of Pakistan, and my prayers go out to them as we follow developments regarding this dire situation,” Huckabee said in a statement.

    Once again, Americans must acknowledge that purposely, we are not fully informed.  As long as war remains in the wind, we cannot and will not speak of peace.  In an era where faux-Progressives stress the need for global tranquility, as they plan to wage war for at least another term, we must remember that when conflict is the cause of strife, it will also be the effect.

    Americans and citizen worldwide can only hope that we, as  a world will decide not to focus on assignations and the aggressive demeanors that lead to these.  We might dream of the impossible, harmony, and create it.  

    Together let us take a moment and rest in peace.  Perchance, we might listen to the words of the one Presidential hopeful from either nation, Pakistan or the United states, who wishes only for serenity planet-wide.  The aspirant that believes we can achieve the impossible, what same think absurd offers his words of wisdom.

    U.S. Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) issued the following statement after learning of the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in a suicide attack following a campaign rally.

    “This is a very dangerous moment for the world,” Kucinich said. . . .

    “The United States must change its policy direction in the region. It must stop adding fuel to the fire.”

    If we truly wish to establish world unity, Americans and Pakistanis alike cannot condone combat, in any form, on foreign or domestic shores.  If we are to authentically invite and work for peace, we, as a nation, as individual people must live  our lives in harmony.  We must be calm when in the company of our neighbors, strangers and genuinely care for our selves.

    Peace, Pax. Hasiti. Amniat.

    Source of Serenity or Strife . . .

    Bush Bellows, “It’s Bad In Iraq! [Does that help?]” ©

    Please View the Video.  Bush declares, “I understand.”  Pardon the Prologue Commercial.  Bush; “It’s Bad In Iraq!”

    President Bush repeatedly tells us he understands.  He understands that we, as a nation, have a responsibility to lead.  Mr. Bush believes that he as a man must guide his “broad” coalition, regardless of its size.  The alliance consists mostly of one country, the United Kingdom.  Bush tells, his citizens that there is  a job to “do” and some his job is to make war in the name of peace.

    Prime Minister Blair and I understand that we have a responsibility to lead and to support moderates and reformers who work for change across the broader Middle East.

    We also recognize that meeting this responsibility requires action.  It will take concerted efforts to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East.

    We stand together because we understand the only way to secure a lasting peace for our children and grandchildren is to defeat the extremist ideologies and help the ideology of hope and democracy prevail.

    King George W. understands “peace” and how important this prospect is for our children and grandchildren.  Does he understand that if “defeat” is part of your vocabulary than peace is not what you are proposing?  Tranquility is the understanding that comes with talk.  Calm, caring conversation gives birth to peace. 

    George W. Bush continually asserts he will not talk to rogue nations.  Bush will not come to the table.  Yet he states,

    But one thing is for certain: When people — if people come to the table to discuss Iraq, they need to come understanding their responsibilities — to not fund terrorists, to help this young democracy survive, to help with the economics of the country

    Rather than approach disagreements diplomatically, this martyr, fights and then, frequently frets, “Yes, it is tough.”  I consistently wonder, as I listen to his constant whine, “Mr. Bush, perhaps it is too tough for you?”  War and peace seem to weigh heavy on your heart. 

    You speak of these struggles often.

    You know, in all due respect, I’ve been saying it a lot.  I understand how tough it is, and I’ve been telling the American people how tough it is.  And they know how tough it is.

    And the fundamental question is: Do we have a plan to achieve our objective?  Are we willing to change as the enemy has changed?

    And what the Baker-Hamilton study has done is it shows good ideas as to how to go forward.  What our Pentagon is doing is figuring out ways to go forward — all aiming to achieve our objective.

    Make no mistake about it: I understand how tough it is, sir.

    Oh, yes, it is Mr. Bush.  It is tough for me to understand.  Why did you choose such a path.  Clearly, it causes you such angst.  George, there is no reason to take on tasks that are just too tough.

    Oh, George W., our “fair” leader I fear for you.  You seem to be deeply immersed in cognitive dissonance.  You say you understand there’s sectarian violence.  I wonder.  Did you comprehend such a notion before you chose to unilaterally attack?  Did the Baby Bush discuss religious wars with his Dad or did he simply decide to surround himself with yes men and women.  Boy Bush, my heart bleeds when I think of your family.  You know how important families’ are.

    I talk to the families who die.  I understand there’s sectarian violence.

    I also understand that we’re hunting down al-Qaida on a regular basis and we’re bringing them to justice.

    The President understands we are “hunting down al-Qaida on a regular basis.  It seems to me we are strengthening this group and all other “terrorists” enclaves.

    How are we bringing al-Qaida to justice?  I do not understand.  I know that innocent people are imprisoned at Guantanamo.  These individuals rarely if ever have access to an attorney.  Is that judicious?

    Perchance I do not recognize, realize, or appreciate your benevolent actions President, Bush.  It seems to me Mr. Shrub sending the blameless off to jail, to serve indeterminate sentences in detention centers continents away is an odd way of pursuing and imposing decency.  When I think of democracy I do not consider what I currently see to be so.  Soldiers do not spread freedom.  The military is not the messenger for liberty.  Yet, you say,

    I understand how hard our troops are working.  I know how brave the men and women who wear the uniform are.

    And, therefore, they’ll have the full support of this government.

    I understand what long deployments mean to wives and husbands and mothers and fathers, particularly as we come into a holiday season.  I understand.  And I have made it abundantly clear how tough it is.

    I also believe we’re going to succeed.  I believe we’ll prevail.  Not only do I know how important it is to prevail, I believe we will prevail.

    Mr. President, you claim to understand the struggle.  You acknowledge that we are not winning an un-winnable war.  According to reports, you see the threat.  Still, rather than go forward and fight for what you believe is “right” you send our youth.  Mr. Bush you put our soldiers in harms way and you ask our troops to slaughter the innocent.  I do not understand!

    “Gentle” George, you say that you read the reports and realize that Americans are loosing their lives, their limbs; however, you continue to choose to ignore the death and destruction.  Would the war be different if you were in harm’s way.  I cannot help but wonder.

    Is winning your only vision; is this even possible?  Does anyone win in a war?  I only see loss and I sigh.  I think war is never a solution;  However, I hear you.  You claim we must triumph.  Yet, again this task is hard.

    I understand how hard it is to prevail.  But I also want the American people to understand that, if we were to fail — and one way to assure failure is just to quit — is not to adjust and say it’s just not worth it.

    If we were to fail, that failed policy will come to hurt generations of Americans in the future.

    And as I said in my opening statement, I believe we’re in an ideological struggle between forces that are reasonable and want to live in peace and radicals and extremists.

    And when you throw into the mix a radical Shia and radical Sunni trying to gain power and topple modern governments with energy, which they could use to blackmail Great Britain or America or anybody else who doesn’t kowtow to them, and a nuclear weapon in the hands of a government that would be using that nuclear weapon to blackmail to achieve political objectives, historians will look back and say, How come Bush and Blair couldn’t see the threat?  That’s what they’ll be asking.

    And I want to tell you, I see the threat.  And I believe it is up to our governments to help lead the forces of moderation to prevail.  It’s in our interests.

    And one of the things that has changed for American foreign policy is the threat overseas can now come home to hurt us.  And September the 11th should be a wake-up call for the American people to understand what happens if there is violence and safe havens in that part of the world.

    And what happens is people can die here at home.

    Dear George, in my mind, your mission created greater violence.  It increases exponentially.  People from home are dying.  They are killed and maimed far from our shores and farther still from their families.  Many breathe their last breath miles away from those they love.  It is heartbreaking to consider, worse still to behold.  If only you understood this!

    Mr. Bush, have you even considered the tens of thousands of Iraqis that lost their lives and limbs.  Many innocents are separated from family and friends.  More can no longer see those that are near.  So many bodies are maimed.  So much is at stake.

    I appreciate your question.  As you can tell, I feel strongly about making sure you understand that I understand it’s tough.

    But I want you to know, sir, that I believe we’ll prevail.  I know we have to adjust to prevail, but I wouldn’t have our troops in harm’s way if I didn’t believe that, one, it was important; and, two, we’ll succeed.

    Thank you.

    Oh my!  The bellowing Bush asserts he appreciates the question.  He thanks us, his audience for listening to his lengthy answer.  George W. Bush avows he understands; however, I must ask, if he did would we have gone to war?  Would we as a nation  continue to confront a problem that worsened with thanks to the malicious mastermind of our “Commander-In-Chief.”

    I do not understand.  It is tough for me, though I care to cogitate. Thus, I am asking for more information.  I am truly trying to comprehend.  Yet, with each word you utter, consistently I conclude, boast as you do Mr. Bush, I must say, you do understand nothing!

    Bad Boy Bush Understands Iraq. . .

  • Text from President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s joint news conference. New York Times. December 7, 2006
  • pdf Text from President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s joint news conference. New York Times. December 7, 2006
  • Bush; “It’s Bad In Iraq!” CBS News.
  • Bush tells Iran, Syria how they can join Iraq talks. Cable News Network.
  • Iraq Panel Report Gets Varied Reaction. CBS News.