Infamous Anniversary of Attack



Global Greens 2008 – Bruce Gagnon (Maine, USA)

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

March 19, 2009, is a day that lives in infamy.  There were others in the past.  However, on this date six years ago, the United States launched what has come to be accepted as unwarranted attacks on Iraq.  Although, from the first, there were protests even in high places such as the Senate floor, unilaterally, Americans bombed an innocent people.  This time, for near two years prior, pretense was presented as truth.

The American people were told by their President how dangerous the Iraqi Al Qaida terrorists were.  George W. Bush assured anxious Americans, he would protect us.  Congress was warned of what would occur if the United States did not react to the Middle Eastern threat.  Commander Bush sent a letter on March 18, 2003.  Even as his eight-year term ended, he worked to establish in the minds of historians and the electorate who had experienced all that occurred, Mister Bush kept us safe.  

As recently as December 2008, the now former President proclaimed, a newly acquired nuance to the saga he has long recounted on the war in Iraq.  “It is true, as I have said many times, that Saddam Hussein was not connected to the 9/11 attacks.  But the decision to remove Saddam from power cannot be viewed in isolation from 9/11.”  Yet, he retained and repeated his ever-strident commitment to the combat.  “It was clear to me, to members of both political parties, and to many leaders around the world that after 9/11, this was a risk we could not afford to take.”

Americans, many of whom are content the Bush era has passed, refer to the 9/11 Commission Report to invalidate the claims of a President who no longer resides in the White House.  Currently, countless citizens take comfort; Barack Obama presides over the Oval Office.  The just elected Commander-In-Chief has already begun to take steps to remove beleaguered troops from the embattled frontlines.  

Since Mister Obama took office, citizens are less concerned with the war in Iraq.  Many have faith the President will do what is best for military men and women.  Some are encouraged by reports that the Commander-In-Chief will send combat soldiers stationed in Iraq home safely, or perhaps, individuals are focused on more personal realities.  Anxiety over a potential, probable, or actual job loss consumes countless Americans, more so than combat abroad does.  A pension-plan gone bust, a lack of health care coverage, and a possible home foreclosure take precedence for millions more than war.  Few of the common folk feel as troubled by occurrences in the Middle East.  Most merely hope Mister Obama will do what is best.  

Occasional outspoken exception can be heard.  On March 12, 2009, former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleisher stated, “[A]fter September 11th, having been hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam Hussein might not strike again?  We got a report saying al Qaeda is determined to attack the United States.”  Nonetheless, even Conservatives such as John McCain endorse President Obama’s plan for withdrawal.

Overall, opinions on Iraq, the war and the withdrawal are mixed, even among foreign policy experts.

Then there are the few who fear further folly in the Persian Gulf.  Progressives, be they political figures or peace activists amongst the public, think the Obama agenda to end the conflict in Iraq is too little and too late.  Official dissent is often stated diplomatically.  Personal pleas may be more moving.  

A week before the sixth anniversary of America’s Second Gulf War, regardless of the President’s intended withdrawal everyday people stood out in the streets, just as they had done throughout the war.  ‘Iraq is a symptom of a foreign policy and priorities” that the peaceful felt and feel they cannot sanction.

At local vigils nationwide attendees talked of their observation, verified in the news.  Americans support the President’s proposed Afghan buildup.   ”Enough!  Bring the Troops Home Now!” was the oft-heard cry from those who crave global harmony.  Most asked as they had during the fateful Bush years.  “What Do We Do Now?”

Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons offers his perspective.  In an article published on June 14, 2007, the recipient of the Doctor Benjamin Spock’s Peacemaker Award presents his ten-point plan.


I often hear from people asking me, “What should we do about all this?  How can we stop Bush?”

I would first say that we must move beyond blaming Bush.  The fact of U.S. empire is bigger than Bush.  Hopefully by now, all of us are more clear how the Democrats have been, and are now, involved in enabling the whole U.S. military empire-building plan.  It is about corporate domination.  Bush is just the front man for the big money.

So to me that is step #1 .

Step #2  is to openly acknowledge that as a nation, and we as citizens, benefit from this U.S. military and economic empire.  By keeping our collective military boot on the necks of the people of the world we get control of a higher percentage of the world’s resources.  We, 5% of the global population in the U.S., use 25% of the global resource base.  This reality creates serious moral questions that cannot be ignored.

Step #3  is to recognize that we are addicted to war and to violence.  The very weaving together of our nation was predicated on violence when we began the extermination of the Native populations and introduced the institution of slavery.  A veteran of George Washington’s Army, in 1779, said, “I really felt guilty as I applied the torch to huts that were homes of content until we ravagers came spreading desolation everywhere..  Our mission here is ostensibly to destroy but may it not transpire, that we pillagers are carelessly sowing the seed of Empire.”  The soldier wrote this as Washington’s Army set out to remove the Iroquois civilization from New York state so that the U.S. government could expand its borders westward toward the Mississippi River.  The creation of the American empire was underway.

Our history since then has been endless war.  Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler, U.S. Marine Corps, told the story in his book War is a Racket.  Butler recalls in his book, “I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service….And during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.  In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism….Thus I helped make Mexico and especially

Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914.  I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.  I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street….I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912.  I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916.  I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903.  In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.”

Step # 4  We have to begin to change how we think about our country.  We have to learn to understand what oligarchy means.  I’ll save you the trouble of having to look up the definition – A government in which power is in the hands of a few.  When you have lost your democracy then what do the citizens do?  They must fight (non-violently) to take it back.  This of course means direct action and sometimes civil disobedience.  Virtually everything good in our nation (abolition of slavery movement, women’s suffrage, civil rights movement, anti-war movements, etc) have come from people stepping up when they were needed.  Calling for impeachment by the Congress becomes imperative today.  Are you in or out?

Step #5  Forget the “every man for himself” mythology.  We are all brainwashed in this country to believe in the rugged individualism story.  But movement for change can only happen in community – working with others.  So forget the egocentric notion that “one great man” is going to come save us.  It’s going to take a village – in fact all the villages.  Just like an addict goes to a group to seek help for addiction, knowing they can’t do it themselves, so we must form community to work for the needed change if we are to protect our children’s future.

Step # 6  What about my job?  Another smothering myth in America is success.  Keep your nose clean and don’t rock the boat.  Don’t get involved in politics, especially calling for a revolution of values (like Martin Luther King Jr. did) or you will get labeled and then you can forget about owning that castle on the hill you’ve always dreamed of.  In a way we become controlled by our own subservience to the success mythology.  We keep ourselves in line because success and upward mobility become more important than protecting free speech, clean water, clean air, and ending an out of control government bent on world domination.  Free our minds, free our bodies and we free the nation.

Step #7  Learn to work well with others.  Sure we all want to be stars.  But in the end we have to learn to set aside our egos if we want to be able to work with others to bring about the needed changes.  Cindy Sheehan should not be hammered just for telling the truth about the Democrats playing footsie with Bush on the war.

Step # 8  It’s the money.  How can I do this peace work when I have to work full-time just to pay the mortgage?  I’d like to help but I’ve got bills to pay!  Maybe we can begin to look at the consumerist life we lead and see that our addiction to the rat race keeps us from being fully engaged in the most important issue of our time – which is protecting the future generations.  How can we begin to explore cooperative living arrangements, by building community, that free us up economically to be able to get more involved?

Step # 9  Learn to read again.  Many of us don’t read enough.  We spend our time in front of the TV, which is a primary tool that the power structure uses to brainwash us.  We’ve got to become independent thinkers again and teach our kids to think for themselves.  Reading and talking to others is a key.  Read more history.  All the answers and lessons can be found there.

Step #10 Learn to trust again and have fun.  Some of the nicest people in the world are doing political work.  Meet them and become friends with them and your life will change for the better.

Mister Gagnon professes wars will be forever perpetual if we the people continue to consider our brethren an enemy.  If dominion is our preference, diplomacy will never be more than a mere word.  The public cannot blame George W. Bush or Barack Obama for its addiction to might and material goods.  Nor can we, the people expect an oligarchy to have the best interests of common folks at heart.  If consumption and competition are the principles that guide our population, battles will endure.  If peace is to ever come, as citizens, as a country, on every continent, the people must act in accordance with the principles most claim they hold dear.  Consistency, in thought and deed, can eliminate combat.

“Love thy neighbor” cannot be said only on Sundays, on the Sabbath, or in houses of worship.  Indeed, Bruce Gagnon might avow, as other peaceful persons do, March 19, 2009 is not the sixth anniversary of a war.  It is another date that lives in infamy, as has been every day in centuries of battles fought.

References for the reality of war . . .  

Wars; Endless Wars. The Want for More

Wars

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It is March, again.  Just as I have been for years, in this month I am haunted by the hate we, humans, propagate.  March 19th is the sixth anniversary of “unnecessary wars”.  The phrase is not mine alone.  Public servants,  Ambassadors, and former Presidents have proclaimed as I have.  Foreign Secretaries and domestic Diplomats deem the war was a mistake.  Then there are the people.  

Those embroiled abroad cannot be happy with a hapless combat that destroys homes, the lives of families, and fractures communities.  The American public also grapples with great pain, albeit for those safely ensconced in the States, the pain is less physical or psychological than a soldier’s stationed abroad might be.  

When polled five long years ago, people in this country stated the war was a mistake.  At the time, fifty-six percent of the United States population rejected further battle.  Americans decisively declared, the “war is not worth fighting.”  Seventy (70) percent of Americans thought any slight gains in security had come at an “unacceptable” cost in military casualties.  That was then.

Today, as the economic crisis looms larger in the minds of many United States citizens, less pay attention to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Americans hope only for change, spare dollars, and cents.  Indeed, the American people want jobs.  The public craves the cash they need to put food on the table.  People are more focused how they personally might pay for the roof over their heads.  The only wars that cause them worry are “trade” battles.  All is not well on the Western Front.

On the home front, Americans are anxious.  To worry about the conflict abroad seems a waste.  Many families face foreclosure.  Businesses fail.  Jobs are lost.  Ours is a generation who will not prosper as their parents’ had.  A few, although not few enough in the minds of those affected, fear the future for sons, daughters, husbands, and wives who are called to combat.  Perhaps a lesser number are apprehensive when they ponder the fate of a loved one who will volunteer for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  My sister, brother-in-law, and I are amongst these.

This weekend, on his father’s birth date, I learned my nephew has considered his options, his career, and the choices he has.  Jason is a Marine.  He enlisted near a year ago.  He enjoyed boot-camp.  The not yet twenty one-year-young man did as he has always done; he endeavored to do his best.  Months ago Jason was promoted to Lance Corporal.  It was quite an honor He is proud and happy to serve his country.  Perhaps, he will overseas.  Jason has not decided conclusively.  Yet, it seems a stay in Afghanistan is his plan.

His family, mine, understands at any moment the decision will not be made by him.  The Marines might move him to the Middle East.  While change came in American policy, it appears an end to armed conflicts is no longer the priority.

Nonetheless, as one who has stood vigil for peace since before the first American bombs blasted over Afghanistan, as the sixth anniversary of the more often observed Iraq War draws near, I invited many of my fellow activists to commemorate the day.  I sent an electronic mail to the many who have joined the local Peace Corner congregation each week.

My message was delivered on the same day the stock market slipped to a record low.  An acquaintance, one who organized our local community in support of then Senator, Barack Obama, answered.  She stated she could not participate in an hour-long peace vigil on March 19th, regardless of what time it was held.  

Jesse wrote of her commitment to Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package.  Her advocacy, she said, would prevent her attendance.  However, she revealed, in truth, she felt she could not sanction the remembrance.

Jesse penned, “I may not love all aspects of the President’s plan regarding Iraq but trust that he knows much better then I how to get out without bloodbath.  With regard to “Afghanistan,” she wrote; “until there is a strong diplomatic effort going in that region, which wasn’t done under the Bush regime, we owe it to soldiers there to give them the support they need to protect themselves while they are trying to destroy our enemy.”

I wondered what I might say.  Frequently I spoke of my belief; I wish to support our servicemen and woman actively.  That is the reason I want them safe and sane.  I thought of my conversation with my sister.  Linda feels certain Jason will offer to serve abroad.  She wishes not only for his safe return, she prays for his sanity.  Too many, Linda bemoaned, come home, and mentally, emotionally, the troops who travel afar, and saw a world of woe, are never the same.

As I reflected on my siblings reality, I read more of what Jesse avowed. “Our enemy is there – and despite what you and I have discussed in the past Betsy, this is NOT a people you can negotiate with and you can’t change their mind set.  They are out to destroy us so we have to try to destroy them first.”  As I considered her words, I reflected on an article presented three days after the Twin Towers fell, long before America wrecked greater havoc on a country bombed back to the Stone Age before the US sent more artillery.  Tamim Ansary penned, An Afghan-American Speaks.  In the reflection, published in Salon the author offers a thoughtful analogy, one I observed to be true, even as an outsider.

(T)he Taliban and bin Laden are not Afghanistan.  They’re not even the government of Afghanistan.  The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997.  Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan.  When you think Taliban, think Nazis.  When you think bin Laden, think Hitler.  And when you think “the people of Afghanistan” think “the Jews in the concentration camps.”

I thought to share the source; yet, I feared Jesse might not be open to the comparison.  Although she has often heard of my belief in the principle, transformation is invisible.  We must talk endlessly if we are to build trust and a novel truth, the woman who advocates for diplomacy expressed what for me feels forever dismissive.  “We will just have to agree to disagree on this one,” Jesse typed.

“I wish all of you well in your efforts since I know you only want what you think is right and moral.  I wish the conflict had never started in Iraq and that we had completed what we started in Afghanistan . . . which was to find and capture Bin Laden and his followers, and bring them to justice.”  

In accordance to what Jesse thinks humanitarian relief, she stated her hope is America will “rebuild what we destroyed in the region, build schools and proper roads, lay down broadband to connect these backwoods people to the rest of the world so they can see what there is out there.”  

Jesse theorized; “Only by doing that can we offer them an alternative to what they have now.”  I wondered.  How might we accomplish any of what would be good in the Middle East as long as we came, and continue to come to Afghanistan with guns ablaze.  Had our failed policy in Iraq not been a lesson, or are we do believe as Jesse, and even George W. Bush might.  The only reason for regret in the past was a lack of intelligence.

Just before he left the Oval Office, the previous President, who Jesse blames for the battles that brew, ruminated.  “The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq,” a remorseful George W. Bush told ABC television in December 2008.  “I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.”

Intelligence.  That is often the problem.  Intellectually adept as any of us might be, emotionally, each of us is handicapped by what we believe.  We forget, as I shared with my sister days earlier.  “No one can be inside of our heart, soul, being, or brain.”  I asked Linda to think of the two of us, our experience of our home life, our parents, and our shared history.  We do not perceive any given moment as our sibling does.  Nor do either of us relate to what others in our brood believe to be true.  Perchance, this lack of perspective, an empathetic point of view is the cause for endless wars.

As I pondered, Jesse apparently perused another article and sent the source on to me.  I trusted she knew as I frequently express, I never agree to disagree.  I believe, personal philosophies, peace, and profound inquiry, are each part of a never-ending process.  Agreements are not achieved in an instant.  Combat will not cease in a second, and conversations, if they are to be effective, must be ongoing.

With a link to the essay, Jesse included a statement, “Knew you would want to see this.  I’m so conflicted – wish I knew the right thing to do.”  I clicked on the link and smiled when I saw the New York Times Columnist Bob Herbert treatise appear.  A man I personally admire, one I think phenomenal, in his March 3, 2009 editorial addressed the issue of Wars, Endless Wars .

The article begins . . .

The singer Edwin Starr, who died in 2003, had a big hit in 1970 called “War” in which he asked again and again: “War, what is it good for?”

The U.S. economy is in free fall, the banking system is in a state of complete collapse, and Americans all across the country are downsizing their standards of living.  The nation as we’ve known it is fading before our very eyes, but we’re still pouring billions of dollars into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with missions we are still unable to define.

I read the article in its entirety and responded.  “Dearest Jesse,” I enthusiastically noted.  “I am past partial.  I love Bob Herbert!”  Herbert’s reference to a favorite tune and musician of mine, prompted an impulsive applause.  When I saw he had connected the wars to the economy, I became more enthralled with his every word.  

I thanked Jess for her being open to further thought, and her willingness to share.  I expressed my own truth.  I observe “The war is tied to economics.”  Conflicts overseas have an effect on the environment, education at home, business, and whether we rebuild the infrastructure.  Questionable ethics, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and homicide, increase when a country is consumed with a waged conflict.  Homelessness, amongst veterans, or the displacement of those on foreign soil, is disregarded when we are embroiled in warfare.  I stated, “The list of effects is endless.”  

I also believe emotional intelligence is altered when we think war is a necessary evil.  We begin to engage in one battle, it seems enemies are everywhere.

Then, I told Jesse a tale, a true story that occurred seconds after I spoke with my sister.  

I entered the Recreation Center ready to swim.  I trusted thoughts of my nephew and the war would fill my mind while I was under water.  I entered the locker room to prepare for my exercise, and there I saw an acquaintance.  Sue, a Korean woman I often chat with, was gathering her gear.  She has lived in the States for near a decade.  Sue is young, beautiful, and does not speak in depth on most subjects.  When we see each other at the cement pond, the swim is often our priority.  

Brimming with beliefs, I blurted out, “I loathe war.”  Sue verbalized her venom for violence immediately.  She told me of how awful the North Koreans are and why combat is necessary.  I responded; the North Koreans are people.”  Sue spoke with knowledge.  She told me of the dictatorial government, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, and the people who will do whatever their government demands.  

In all the years we have known each other, we have chatted frequently.  Yet, I have never seen or heard Sue speak with such vigor.  Sue assured me the North Korean people will follow their leader.  I reminded her of Hitler, and the economic Depression, that helped catapult the Fuehrer to power.  Even long before my review of the aforementioned article, An Afghan-American speaks these comparison was so real for me.

As we discussed the dynamics of conflict, I introduced many more instances, on various continents.  “Much of what occurs worldwide illustrates why people are motivated to do as an autocrat deems they must,” I said.  I referred to the reality in Afghanistan, although not as eloquently as Author Tamim Ansary had.

Some say, why don’t the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban?  The answer is, they’re starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering.  A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan — a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets.  These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban.

We spoke further of other circumstances in countless countries.  “Each,” I exclaimed,  “exemplifies the same truth.  War is an economic endeavor, always has been . . . even the Civil War is but an example.”

Sue listened; and then rationalized her beliefs.  I too paid attention; and then shared why I thought, why I think, as I do.  Finally, my sincerest belief rose to the surface.  Empathy is the best educator.  I invited Sue to imagine.  “If you had a relative who resided in North Korea, would that individual be evil?”  Would you wish to kill them . . . before they killed you?  Sue stood quietly.  She stopped speaking.  Reflected for a time.  Then she said, “I understand.”

Perhaps, if Jesse, the President of the United States, and the people, in each an every country contemplated our deeper connections, the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war, March 19th, would not need to be commemorated.  Nor would we prepare to pay tributes to those who have or will fall in Afghanistan.  If humans were to honor, no man, or matter is an island, perhaps, people would not need to fight for jobs, fiscal stability, food, shelter, power, or for principles that are contrary to a stated belief in peace.

References for a wartime, all-time reality . . .

Confessions of Dick Cheney





Dick Cheney Interview ABC News

Cheney Aware of Gitmo Waterboarding

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

There was a break in the news.  On Cable News Network Wolf Blitzer was noticeably moved.  He excitedly reported; Dick Cheney confessed.  Broadcaster Blitzer’s words were a bit more tempered.  He said, “This just coming into The Situation Room.  The Vice President, Dick Cheney, has given ABC News an interview and confirming now publicly that the Bush administration did engage in the very controversial interrogation tactic of waterboarding.”  The Commentator then asked America to listen to the clip.  ABC News Correspondent Jonathan Karl inquired of the outgoing high-level government official, “Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?”  Without hesitation, the Vice President responded.  “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the — the process cleared, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do.  . . .  (T)hey talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do.  And I supported it.  

Viewers vented.  Some shifted nervously in their seats.  However, The Judicial Watch was not amused.  Nor were they elated.  The answer was not the one this Conservative organization, hoped for, groped for, and searched for though the courts, for all these many years.  Vice President Cheney did not confess to sins conceived long before September 11, 2001.  He told said nothing of the maps and charts of Iraqi oil fields.  Foreign suitors for Iraqi oilfield contracts were not discussed as they had been in March 5, 2001, six months and six days before the infamous September 11 attacks.

No, Dick Cheney, spoke of none of what might have interested Judicial Watch.  Perchance, those involved with this institute listened and wondered of the Iraq oil map. would the Vice President confess to knowledge of these?  From appearances, it seemed he would not.

Seeming pleased with his decision and participation, the man second to the Commander-In-Chief avowed, “It’s been a remarkably successful effort and I think the results speak for themselves.”  Indeed, the consequences do speak volumes, as does Dick Cheney’s willingness to disclose what for so long has been an elusive truth.  Yet, a few wondered; was this statement a confession, or merely a confirmation of what had long been known, an acknowledgment of sorts?

As the words tripped off Dick Cheney’s tongue, the public began to talk.  Millions were ecstatic.  He admitted it, they declared.  Throughout cyberspace and in local communities people were all abuzz.  Announcers throughout the airwaves and people on the streets pondered.  “Did he just say that?”  The answer was, of course he did.  Richard Bruce Cheney knew, as he has reason to understand.  He is indeed, above the law.  A myriad of moments affirmed this for him.  Given years of opportunities, the Democrats consistently have chosen not to touch him.

Oh, a few tried.  More might insist that Dick Cheney be removed from office, just as many attested to the need to indict the President.  However, nothing was done.  

Former Senator and nominee for the President, George McGovern could not convince the Democratic leadership.  Florida Congressman Robert Wexler actively campaigned to, at least, begin hearings.  In November 6, 2007 Dennis Kucinich offered a Privileged Resolution in his attempt to avail the Congress of the need to censure Cheney.  However, the Democrats averted the opportunity.

Hence, Dick Cheney trusted he was safe to speak of virtually anything.  Specifically, the Vice President was certain he was safe to discuss his role in ‘purposeful persecution.’  Mister Cheney recalled that the Democrats decreed by their silence that torture was sanctioned.  In reality, Progressives presented the President and his Cabinet with a dictum of faith in the practice.  Those who supposedly sit on the Left side of the aisle signed, sealed, and delivered a permission slip for abusive behaviors on the part of Americans in December 2002, almost six years to the day from what some had hoped was a confession.

The news today that leading Democrats, including Jane Harman and Nancy Pelosi, were informed about the torture of military prisoners and allegedly didn’t just acquiesce but actually approved it is not something that particularly surprises.  The descent into war crimes under this administration provoked very little public Democratic anger or resistance for the years in which it was used most promiscuously.  The presidential campaign of John Kerry offered only token opposition.  The subject never came up in a single presidential debate in 2004.  And the way in which the torture issue has subsequently been raised by Democrats bespeaks opportunism as much as principled outrage and opposition.

What was perhaps more extraordinary and less discussed from the ABC interview was the anomalous question posed to a reflective Vice President Cheney, had he changed.  Earlier in the interview, Dick Cheney had offered that the 9-11 terrorist attacks had definitely became “a prime motivation” for his future decisions.  He said, the events that occurred on that September day in 2001 ‘critically shaped his actions in the years that followed.’  Yet, concurrently, he attested to the fact he had not changed.  

Dick Cheney’s answer was accurate and insincere, all in the same breath.  Judicial Watch, Incorporated, “a Conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, [which] promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government,” might say this man is a marvel, an artist, and an articulate obfuscator.  Judicial Watch should know.  

When the Bush Administration formed the National Energy Policy Development Group and then proceeded to hold meetings in private, Judicial Watch sensed a clear violation of the Freedom of Information Act.  The foundation took legal actions.  “Unfortunately, on May 9, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Vice President’s Energy Task Force did not have to comply with the Federal Advisory Act.”

Hence, with a history of the Democrats and the Courts on Cheney’s side the man felt no compunction to share what might have caused some havoc, were there any mayhem to be had by opponents of the Administration.  Jonathan Karl, the ABC News Journalist, who some thought captured a confession on tape affirmed and asked for another perchance candid comment,  Mister Karl stated, “You probably saw Karl Rove last week said that if the intelligence had been correct, we probably would not have gone to war.”  He was greeted with what is arguably not a confession; nor is the retort correct, or incorrect.

Cheney: I disagree with that.

This portion of the answer is true.  Dick Cheney did differ with the notion that, were the intelligence correct, the United States would not have gone to war with Iraq.  However, his reason was not as he went on to state.  Stockpiles, an intent on the part of Saddam Hussein to supply terrorist organizations with arms or money did not incite the Vice President or likely the Administration.  Granted, Dick Cheney did and does believe as he shared on air.

This was a bad actor and the country’s better off, the world’s better off, with Saddam gone, and I think we made the right decision, in spite of the fact that the original NIE was off in some of its major judgments.

What the Vice President neglected to say was what the Courts ruled he did not need to reveal.  ““Executive privilege was improperly invoked by Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and now the Bush administration,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton stated.  No, Dick Cheney did not, would not say that.  A confession of such clarity certainly would not come from this public servant, at least not yet.  That admission would be breaking news.  Cable News Network Wolf Blitzer and every other Broadcaster, were that declaration of guilt to occur, would have a real reason to be excited.  The Judicial Watch Educational Foundation would be elated.  Were that to happen, perchance, the American people would be moved to finally act.  For now, the public acquiesces while they sit and await an authentic confession.

Confessions and Concessions . . .

So? So what?



 

Cheney; So . . . Bush: So What?

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The Bush Cheney Administration rewrote history even as it occurred.  In the waning hours of their shared reign, a committee was formed to secure their legacy.  Technically, the work to revise the past began only weeks ago.  In truth, the men in the Executive Branch endeavored to deliver a message of accomplishment from the first.  

On every occasion, when asked of the public umbrage for the Iraq War, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney offered a similar answer.  “So.”  

Shocked by the cold-hearted reactions, Americans were moved to speak of the lack of care.  Yet, no one, at least not those in Congress who could challenge such a cavalier attitude, responded in a meaningful manner.  No matter the widespread antipathy for the Presidential pair, the American people settled into apathy.  Most did not think censure was wise.  Countless claimed impeachment was impossible.  A glimpse into the souls of two men who voluntarily chose to slaughter innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan did not move people to take action.

There was an air of acceptance in America.  The people felt they could do nothing.  Hence, they did not.  Citizens of this country listened.  They sigh.  A few chuckled.  Most just ignored what they characterized as classic arrogance.  Thus, the haughtiness grew.  In March 2008, the Vice President knew the public was indifferent.  He had reason to believe that the American people thought the dream of prosecution was impossible.

When asked how that assessment comports with recent polls that show about two-thirds of Americans say the fight in Iraq is not worth it, Cheney replied, “So?”

“You don’t care what the American people think?” Raddatz asked the vice president.

“You can’t be blown off course by polls,” said Cheney, who is currently on a tour of the Middle East. “This president is very courageous and determined to go the course. There has been a huge fundamental change and transformation for the better. That’s a huge accomplishment.”

The Administration was steadfast, and said so frequently.  They would stay the course.  The mission was accomplished, although altered for the benefit of an audience.  George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, always cognizant of how history might judge them practiced the proper posit.  Indeed, in the closing days the Administration may have perfected the posture.  On December 14, 2008, little more than a month before the President leaves office, he again spun an improved interpretation of his-story.

Bush:Clearly, one of the most important parts of my job because of 9/11 was to defend the security of the American people. There have been no attacks since I have been president, since 9/11. One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take  . . .

Raddatz: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

Bush: Yeah, that’s right. So what?

So what?  What does it matter what the truth might be, or what the American people might think.  It is of little consequence that innocent Iraqis and Afghanis were killed needlessly.  For the two Executives, neither of whom ever fought on a frontline, a deception that led to the deaths of American soldiers was but a necessary deed, a patriotic pact. Certainly, there is no reason for criticism or a critique.  

“So?”  “So what?”  The antagonistic, supercilious actions of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have caused so many sorrows for the common folk torn by combat.  Yet, the mantra of the men who supposedly serve a nation, who continue to occupy the Oval Office, is essentially, ‘Oh well.’  Were that it was “so”.  If only the world had not accepted such a self-serving stance from the Bush Administration, perhaps, all would have been and be well.

So? Sources . . .

It’s the war economy, stupids




To view the original art, please travel to It’s the war economy, stupids

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

I understand that deregulation, greed, and mismanagement are major factors in the current economic crisis.  But why are so few of the “experts” talking about a war, fought on credit, that’s already cost hundreds of billions – and that some believe will have a total economic impact of more than $3 TRILLION?  It’s insane.  This week’s toon, “Dollar Wise,” (Archive 0833) pokes at that question.

Till next week,

Andrew

toon@offthewahl.com

References . . .

The Reckoning; The Iraq War Will Cost Us $3 Trillion, and Much More,  By Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz.  The Washington Post. Sunday, March 9, 2008; Page B01

Reruns

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

Originally Published October 1, 2007




To view the original art, please travel to Reruns

I don’t like going to the dentist.

I was planning to write a lengthy commentary piece to go with this week’s toon, pointing out several other “blast from the recent past” headlines that were in the news these last few days. But then I went to the dentist today. I was expecting a root canal but ended up getting something called a pulp cap. The upside is that it leaves the nerve alive, which is good for the tooth in the long run. The downside is that it leaves the nerve alive, which is bad for me tonight. That’s one pissed off nerve. Oww.

So check out my latest, circa October 1, 2007, toon, “Reruns,” [Archive 0732] and let me know what you think. Me? I’m going to try to get some sleep.

U.S. war machine the real enemy, not Iraqis

© copyright 2008 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

Originally Published Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An Iraq veteran’s perspective

When I volunteered as a soldier to be a part of the initial invasion of Iraq, it was under the assumption that our intentions were just.  U.S. troops-most of us from working-class backgrounds-were fed countless stories of the supposed brutality of Saddam Hussein, and the plight of the Iraqi people.

I truly began to understand the nature of the “liberation” that the U.S. military was bringing to Iraq after one particular mission-one that I struggle with everyday, and one that I share with a great deal of shame and regret.

I still have not discovered the reasons for being sent on this mission.  There was a block of about 10 homes in an Iraqi city, all with families living in them.  Our orders were to force them to leave.  We drove our unarmored Humvees as occupiers through a newly “liberated” Iraqi neighborhood.  We found the block of houses, set up security and began knocking on each door.

Each family, “free” from Saddam’s “dictatorship” was greeted by rifles in their faces and eviction notices.  As they argued with us, confused and panicked, all we could tell them was that they had two days to leave.  We did not tell them where to go, why they had to leave or offer any compensation.  All we provided was an “official” letter ordering them out of their homes.

When we returned two days later, none of the families had gone.  The instructions from the military brass were clear: empty the houses no matter what.  We were given no reasons or explanations.  Only orders.

The orders did not tell us what to do with the Iraqi children in the homes, or the old man who could not walk.  We barged in the houses, rifles first, and began removing people.

A young Iraqi girl who spoke English tried to reason with us.  She tried to understand why this was happening and what they were supposed to do.  All we did was tell her we were sorry, as we dragged her family crying onto the street.  That day was spent being spit on, being told we were “worse than Saddam,” and being forced to turn our heads as crying families begged us to let them stay.  The men who refused to leave were zip-tied and brought to jail.  The women and children were told only what prison their family members were being taken to; we left them standing in the street as we drove back to base.  This was the “liberation” that the U.S. military occupation brought to Iraq.

International solidarity

Not a day has gone by that I haven’t been haunted by the desperate faces of those newly homeless families.  The oppression of the colonial occupation of Iraq is something that weighs heavily on my mind.

Everyday, the U.S. government throws families onto the street.  In Iraq, it is with threats and violence.

There is no colonial occupation in the United States, but workers also are losing their homes and apartments to make way for the rich.  Workers here are faced with racism, bigotry and poverty-all aimed at them by the system and a massive media-based propaganda machine.

Families in Iraq are not our enemies.  The hungry and impoverished workers in Iraq are the same as workers who struggle to survive in the United States..  And it is working-class people in this country who are deliberately targeted by military recruiters.  The politicians in Washington send oppressed people overseas to kill, humiliate and oppress others.

This does not serve our interests; it only serves the interests of the war profiteers.

Real liberation will come when we-soldiers, workers, immigrants, students and families-no longer let the ruling class divide and create barriers between the exploited in the United States and the exploited abroad.  Soldiers should refuse to fight and, instead, bring the struggle home.  Real liberation will come when we struggle together against our common enemy, instead of being used against each other to profit the rich.

The Ticking Time Bomb

copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

There is a story taking place in America that is being buried by the media, the armed forces, and the politicians. This story is so frightening that no one wants to address it or even talk about it. This story has the potential to bring more violence to the streets of America than any terrorist attack. The frightening tale that is being ignored is the fact that we have ticking time bombs within our midst. They do not belong to al Qaeda or any other shady terrorist cell, they will not be profiled because they don’t have Mid-Eastern ancestry, nor are they Muslim extremists. These ticking time bombs are our own sons, daughters, fathers, and brothers. They are the returning soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Just like everything else in these wars the brunt of the fighting has fallen on a very small group of individuals and their numbers are shrinking. These unfortunate few have been forced to fight this war on an almost constant deployment. No sooner than they arrive home, they are redeployed back to the war zone. Many are unable to retire or discharge themselves from their respective services due to stopgap measures instituted by the White House and the services designed to keep those shrinking numbers on a constant rotation. Because we have never fought a war like this one no one knows the consequences of placing these young men and women in this state of constant fear and agitation. Whenever there is any clinical evidence concerning the stress levels of returning service people it is buried.

I have often wondered why with so many Americans against this war there isn’t a stronger outpouring of protest and outrage. Then I am reminded of how the warrior sheep have framed and prosecuted this war. Short of the relatively small number of families being asked to prosecute this war, the rest of us have had to make little if any sacrifices. The warrior sheep have placed the cost of the war on future generations. They are satisfied with using  a dwindling volunteer force, a rogue mercenary army staffed by US security firms, and proxy forces from countries who cannot enforce the rule of law in their own nations, so there is no draft. We still have plenty of commodities albeit more expensive than before the war, but there are no shortages and rationing. So honestly, what is this war costing us?

The study found troops in the unit reported low morale, spousal abuse and attempted suicides. And yet, troops had to wait up to two months for an appointment with a mental health expert once they returned, it said.

A separate report by the Army released earlier this month found that soldiers on their third or fourth combat deployment were at particular risk of suffering mental health problems.

Major General Gale Pollock, the Army’s deputy surgeon general, said the results simply “show the effects of a long war.”

A similar report by the Army’s Mental Health Advisory Team released in 2007 found that 28 percent of soldiers who had been in high-intensity combat were experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, or acute stress. Middle East Online

What is disconcerting about these numbers is that they keep rising. The original studies concerning PTSD in returning Iraqi veterans placed the numbers at 1 in 12, now they are at 1 in 4. The numbers are rising not due to the nature of the conflict but due to the continued policy of longer and more repeated deployments. Or as the General in the study called it, “the results of a long war”. Eventually what is going to happen is that these ticking time bombs are going to begin to explode. They are not getting the psychological treatment they deserve and need and at some point they are going to break. Humans can only take so much stress and trauma before we psychologically break.

For those too young to know the term “going postal” came into existence because of a large number of veterans given jobs at the Postal Service for their years of service and sacrifice for their country began to break with reality and began killing supervisors and customers. I believe that if these psychological issues are not addressed soon we are going to see a level of violence unprecedented in American history. We are already seeing the number of suicides rise among these veterans, eventually that violence will be turned away from themselves and towards society. The thing about the false patriots in this country is that they are only patriotic at others expense, they have put nothing in place to deal with the trauma they have helped to create. This type of phenomenon happens over the course of years, it was years after Vietnam that the “postal” veterans began striking.

The scary thing about all of this is that you will not know when or where it is going to happen. That fine young man sitting next to you at Starbucks could be just waiting to open up his coat and unleash a barrage of death and destruction. The randomness of it will be what makes it so frightening. And of course our warrior sheep will blame everything but the war for these homegrown suicidal killers. These will be the terrorists created by the war on terror. How ironic. Because we don’t fully understand or can predict the causes and extent of the damage of these PTSD sufferers isolating or tracking them will be next to impossible. We have no conclusive evidence of what causes or who suffers from these horrors of war. But make no mistake in the end we will all suffer as innocents begin to be slaughtered by war heroes.

But given her research, and the study in this week’s New England Journal, it’s clear that brain injuries don’t have to be massive to cause significant emotional and mental problems, and that “shell shock,” as it used to be called, may be caused by physical injury or, in turn, cause physical symptoms – it’s not just a reaction to the horrors of war. And if that’s the case, better and earlier medical and psychological intervention, along with better protective armor that shields the body as well as the head, could make life after combat a lot easier to endure. Time

Remember just because the story is being buried doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. One of the most repugnant aspects of the Neo-Con mindset  is that they believe if they ignore or deny something enough then it doesn’t exist or by the same token if they say something enough then it does exist. The question is then, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around does it make a sound? I guess depending on how you answer that question will determine your depth of knowledge concerning this storm on the horizon. Do we honestly think we can bring home all of these psychologically scarred  people and there not be any fallout? I guess it is just considered more collateral damage.  We haven’t even begun to study the mercenary armies of the security firms. What skeletons are going to come falling out of that closet is anybody’s guess. We have already begun to see the mental cases they have under arms and in charge. Tick, Tick, Tick…

As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.

~ Josh Billings

Iraq, Iraqis “Wouldn’t Exist Anymore”



Blitz Busts Bush on Early Iraq WMD Invasion Plans in 2000

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

As Governor of Texas, the Presidential hopeful warned us.  If we were to select him as Commander-In-Chief he would not send mixed messages. Americans might have read George W. Bush’s lips.  Pressure would be applied in abundance.  A thousand points of light illuminated the path the then possible Chief Executive proposed.  Yet, no one wished to believe a prominent person, the son of a former President of the United States could be so cruel.  Certainly, a candidate to the highest office in the land would not suggest that he would be happy to start a war while he worked to win the support of American people.  Yet, there it was, in the smirk, in the statement, in the glint seen in the eyes of Governor George W. Bush.  The date, January 16, 2000, one year and four days before the ready and willing combatant placed his hand on the Bible and recited the Presidential Oath of Office.

Americans entered a new age; the second millennium had just begun.  Yet, the people had learned little from hundreds or thousands of years of history.  While tuned into television, citizens did not need to read between the lines.  The future President spoke directly of his intent.  Journalist Wolf Blitzer heard the words and reiterated.  Perchance, the Broadcaster, too shocked by a truth he thought awesome, offered the then candidate a chance to redeem himself.  George W. Bush cognizant of how his words might be thought cocky, endeavored to lessen the concern, somewhat; however, he remained stalwart.  

The words were ominous, they, the Iraqi’s, would not exist any more.  They hung in the air.  Yet, people wanted to believe, as President, George W. Bush, (or whomever) would protect them.  The public chose to suspend disbelief.  With blind faith, supporters of the candidate followed their leader.  Those who did not endorse the aspirant did not dare to fear the unthinkable.  They thought they would or could “trust and verify.”  Few imagined the impossible would be their unwelcome truth.

Nearly two years later, circumstances afforded Mister Bush an opportunity.  The September 11, 2001,  attack on the Twin Towers allowed the former Governor, then President, to say, the world changed.  However, in truth, while the people’s perspective may have been transformed, the views George W. Bush expressed twenty-one months earlier were as they had been.  The Chief Executive’s sense of reality was static.

Commander-In-Chief Bush is consistent.  As documented, at least since January 2000, Mister Bush intended to eliminate what he decided was a threat, Saddam Hussein, and the country known as Iraq.  The harangue was heard  and George Bush would stay the course.

George W. Bush Opines on His Presidential Candidacy;

Blitzer: It’s almost exactly nine years since your dad, the president of the United States, accepted a cease-fire with Saddam Hussein in Iraq in exchange for full Iraqi agreement to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. But for the last year, there have been no weapons inspection teams in Iraq at all. If you were president today, what would you do about it?

Bush: I would continue to keep the pressure on the Iraqi government.  I would continue to insist that inspectors be left — allowed into the country. I would continue to insist that Iraq complied with the cease-fire arrangement.

Blitzer: But they’re in violation of the agreement right now.

Bush: Absolutely.  Absolutely.  And we shouldn’t be sending mixed signals. And if any time I found that the Iraqi’s were developing weapons of mass destruction, they wouldn’t exist any more.

Blitzer: Who wouldn’t exist, the weapons?

Bush: The weapons of mass destruction, yes.  I’m not going to — they just need to hear that from a potential president, that if we catch them in violation of the agreement, if we in any way, shape or form find out that they’re developing weapons of mass destruction that there will be action taken, and they can just guess what that action might be.

Blitzer: And you’re not going to spell it out here today?

Bush: No, sir.

Ah, but he had shared the details.  The candidate crafted a message and then, in the midst of the interview thought better of being so blatant.  Perhaps, this election season, the American people might ponder the past.  Citizens could consider pronouncements are portals.  When the public listens to our current crop of Presidential challengers might the people acknowledge that a politician has power to change more than a policy.  Lives will be altered with the stroke of a Presidential pen.

This time, will our countrymen contemplate the messages delivered when a Presidential hopeful is away from the persuasive scripts?  Might Americans accept  commercials do not reveal what is within a heart and soul.  Stump speeches do not reveal authentic intentions.  

Let us listen when a potential Commander offers his truest calculations.  When a candidate speaks of possible combat, have faith.  He or she will engage.  If the same hopeful honors a citizen’s right to bear arms, believe him (or her).  Suppose surveillance is the subject.  A potential President that promotes a need to spy on those he or she thinks may be terrorists will follow through.  Holidays from taxes that build a healthy infrastructure, once proposed, will be part of the ultimate plan.  When a presumptive Chief Executive claims he or she will reduce the cost of Health Care Insurance and yet, does not establish a means for better access to affordable medical coverage, realize, he or she will not provide an avenue for those who struggle with what is.  What of energy, education, the environment; perchance Americans might acknowledge, no matter the issue, a person, a potential President will reveal him or herself in subtle ways.

Americans might follow the money, the man, and the woman.  People, no matter their station know what they need to say and when.  A hopeful President indebted to industry will not forget their allegiance, just as George W. Bush never forgot his.  Loyalty to family, friends, and financiers leads many a Commander to combat or a multitude of convenient truths.

All actions begin with a thought.  Words are windows into a being.  Be assured; if an aspirant muses of what he or she “might” do, trust they will.   Defensively, details may not be forthcoming before the position is secured.  Nonetheless, once the keys to the White House are in hand the world will change to fit the new office holder’s reality, when indeed he or she actually has not evolved.

Sources For Statement of War, or Peace.  We, the people decide . . .

A people’s strategy against perpetual war

© copyright 2008 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

Challenging the bipartisan imperialist consensus

On the outset of the invasion of Iraq, I sat strapped in a cargo plane that swooped through the night sky dodging anti-aircraft guns. As we sat in darkness, not knowing if we would ever reach the ground, we suddenly dropped quickly from the air and slammed hard against a makeshift runway. Our plane was the first to land in the north. Our mission was to get in quickly, take the required territory and be relieved by heavy armor.

As we took our first steps on Iraqi soil, we expected to get back on a plane and leave within two months. Month by month, our deployment was extended. We read of the overwhelming military defeat across the country, and wrote home to our families that we would see them soon. We began to pack our bags as we watched the president declare the “mission accomplished,” expecting our return orders to come any day. We watched the blazing summer come and go, just trying to get through one more month.

We grew bitter as we ate a Thanksgiving dinner of macaroni and stale bread as the president smiled for photos in Baghdad holding a giant fake turkey. We spent the day dodging bullets when Saddam Hussein was captured, thinking maybe-just maybe-it was finally over. Even as we strapped back into a cargo plane a year after we landed, we expected to circle right back and continue to watch the months pass through a rifle sight. This was a reality for some; many in my unit were sent back within two months of returning home. Anyone who could not find a way to get out of the army was stop-lossed and sent back for at least one more tour.

Essentially, my year of watching the months pass represents the Iraq war as a whole-thinking it was going to end, but seeing only an increase in the size and brutality of the occupation. With the “end of major combat operations” declared in the early months of the war, we saw all-out sieges on Fallujah, Basra and other cities where the Iraqi people had stood up to the occupiers.

The American and Iraqi people demanded that the troops be withdrawn, yet they got the opposite-a massive troop surge. The surge, sold to the public as a temporary measure to bring an end to the war, has served as a justification to keep the number of soldiers in Iraq well above pre-surge levels. Furthermore, the number of U.S. soldiers occupying Iraq has been supplemented by private mercenaries, paid generously by the Pentagon to terrorize Iraqis with no legal consequences.

To ring in the New Year-the fifth of the occupation-2008 began with the war’s largest bombing campaign on one of Baghdad’s most populous suburbs. Month by month, the body count rises and the imperialist occupation of Iraq deepens.

Why not just vote for change?

In 2006, the masses of American people opposed to the war put their hopes in the Democratic Party, handing it control of Congress in what was widely understood as a vote against the war. Since then, funding for the war has continued to flow unimpeded and General Petraeus and the Bush administration have continued on their destructive warpath. In June alone, Congress approved $165 billion to fund the war without restrictions.

Now, many who still fail to recognize the true loyalties of the Democratic Party have thrown their support behind another Democrat posing as an anti-war candidate. Barack Obama, who began his campaign promising a total withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months-simultaneously pledging imperialist intervention elsewhere in the Middle East-has also begun to shift his position to prolong the occupation.

Obama now promises, using ambiguous language, to remove “U.S. combat troops” from Iraq. “Combat troops” do not include residual forces such as “counterterrorism” units, military training personnel and force protection units. Nor does it include private contractors and mercenaries, which number over 180,000.

Obama’s Iraq policy co-coordinator, Colin Kahl, advocates a residual force of up to 80,000 U.S. troops. Obama advocates a “careful” withdrawal, essentially subject to the advice of military commanders. General Petraeus, widely known for promoting a massive, brutal and indefinite occupation of Iraq, has Obama’s full support as the new commander of the U.S. Central Command. This position gives General Petraeus full control over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, East Africa, and Central Asia.

Those who believe that they can “vote for change” will be voting for a slightly modified imperialist policy.

Charting an independent path

The reality is that the war against Iraq will continue unabated. This is glaringly evident in the new security agreement now being forced upon the Iraqi people. Keeping with the trend of further entrenching and increasing the occupation while the Iraqi masses are demanding an end to it, the security deal will guarantee the U.S. military 58 permanent military bases in Iraq-nearly double the current number-while once the public was assured that there would be no permanent military bases.

The security plan will strip Iraq of whatever sovereignty it has left, cementing its de facto status as a U.S. colony. It will give Washington control over Iraqi airspace and the ability to use Iraq as a staging ground for military attacks elsewhere in the region. It will grant U.S. troops and private contractors full immunity from Iraqi law, giving them the right to raid any house and to arrest and interrogate Iraqi citizens without permission from the Iraqi government

Not only does the security plan demonstrate the U.S. government’s determination to forever control Iraq, it sets the stage for further conquest in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that, if politicians in Washington get their way, the war will continue for years to come. Months will pass as they debate the complexities of the war and develop new strategies aimed at giving the appearance that the end is just around the corner. Months will pass and the lives of Iraqis will continue to be destroyed and soldiers will continue to strap into cargo planes only to be snuck home at night in flag-draped coffins.

The plan to permanently occupy and terrorize Iraq is staring us in the face. We cannot vote for change; change will come the way it always does in society-through the efforts of a dedicated, militant mass movement against the heinous crimes of those who claim to represent us. Without such a movement, the imperialist plans for the Middle East will stay on course, and war will be a permanent reality.

The author is an Iraq war veteran and the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s congressional candidate in Florida’s 22nd District. Click here to read more about his campaign. Click here to read more about other PSL candidates running in local and national elections.