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.
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 . . .
- Feinstein blasts Bush’s talk of war; Senator says attack on Iraq unwarranted, By Edward Epstein. San Francisco Chronicle. Friday, September 6, 2002
- Poll Shows View of Iraq War Is Most Negative Since Start, By Dalia Sussman. The New York Times.: May 25, 2007
- Bush looks back on Iraq war, Mideast policies, By Mike Carney. USA Today. December 05, 2008
- Bush sends letter to Congress on Iraqi action. Cable News Network. March 21, 2003
- pdf Bush sends letter to Congress on Iraqi action. Cable News Network. March 21, 2003
- Iraq Withdrawal Plan Gains G.O.P. Support, By Peter Baker. The New York Times. February 26, 2009
- Fleischer Defends Iraq Invasion: After 9/11, ‘How Could We Take A Chance’ That Saddam Might ‘Strike Again’? By Amanda Terkel. Think Progress. March 12, 2009
- 9/11 panel sees no link between Iraq, al-Qaida. MSNBC News. June 16, 2004
- Text Of President Bush’s Speech. by David Hancock. CBS News. October 7, 2002
- Americans support Afghan buildup, By Reid Wilson. The Hill. March 5, 2009
- Iraq War Anniversary Brings First Signs Of Conflict’s End, By Gil Kaufman. MTV. March 19, 2009
- Obama’s Plan for Iraq. The Washington Post. Sunday, March 1, 2009; Page A13
- Newton peace activists say Obama withdrawal plan is not enough, By Erica Noonan. Boston Globe. March 13, 2009