Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- Soldier's Heart and Political Heat

[published as "Flashpoint" column in Terre Haute Tribune Star, November 26, 2006]

“Absolutely, we’re winning.” –George W. Bush, Oct. 26, 2006

American Military Casualties in Iraq: 2828 dead and over 21,000 wounded. We are deep into the third year of a preemptive war that found nothing to preempt, a Mission Accomplished war that has accomplished nothing, a Saddam Is Hitler war that removed one bad guy from Baghdad and replaced him with scores beyond count of armed-to-the-teeth fanatical militias and tourist terrorists who have found a home. We have run out of uplifting tag lines to describe this fiasco so now a book is written about this war with the title “Fiasco.” Truth on the page today where none came from our leaders’ mouths yesterday.

“. . . a strong majority of Iraqis want US-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country.” – Washington Post report on U. S. State Department poll, Sept. 29, 2006

Iraqi dead have reached 100,000 and may be as high as 655,000. Electricity for the people of Iraq is a sparse and sputtering commodity. Water flows sporadically, to drink it takes an act of courage or desperation. Democracy for the Iraqi people has consisted of one day of voting and showing an ink-stained finger to the media. Journalists reporting truth and lies and everything in between are murdered. Kidnapping is a growth industry. The business and professional classes in Iraq flee the country. Medical doctors’ homes are targeted. Over one-hundred university professors have been murdered in the streets, in their classrooms, but not in libraries, they’ve been looted and burned. Iraqis who are not on the American payroll, and many who are, hate us with a hate that will stain memories for many generations. The billions and billions of dollars we’ve spent on the window dressing that is “reconstruction” is an abject failure. As if to prove this, Bush sees to it that the federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction is terminated in 2007.

“Most Americans haven't seen the growing legion of wounded troops returning from Iraq who are cared for at military facilities sealed off from the public.” --San Antonio Express-News

Along with the deaths and life-changing physical wounds so many of our wonderful men and women in Iraq sustain, many more return home suffering from “Soldier’s Heart.” Soldier’s Heart was observed among the men fighting in the Civil War. In World War I it was called Shell Shock and in World War II Battle Fatigue. After Viet Nam it became Post-Vietnam Syndrome. Today it goes by the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Who can doubt the cruel weight placed on the minds and emotions of the brave military men and women who patrol the deadly alleys of Iraq’s cities, traverse bomb infested roads daily and witness the horror of the mangled dead, their close friends in arms and innocent Iraqis? Many, many return home to nights of screaming dreams and days of confused agony.

“No matter what happens in the election, it’s full speed ahead in Iraq.” –Dick Cheney, Nov. 5, 2006.

I’m writing this before the votes from last Tuesday’s election have been counted--or not counted. Results from that exercise in democracy may mean nothing as far as the war goes. Cheney and Rumsfeld will see to that. The self-proclaimed Chief Decider, who more accurately may be called the Chief Parrot, George W. Bush, may no longer mouth Karl Rove’s “stay the course” slogan, but he does not intend to change the course. Bush will hold on to the disastrous and defining act of his years as president with a death grip. Bush will enter the pages of history frozen in this state of cowardly intellectual and emotional rigor mortis. Bush’s stifling arrogance means we face two more years, possibly more, of this senseless agony.

Where do you stand? What are you going to do about it?

Are you suffering from a home front version of “Soldier’s Heart”? Try this as an antidote, ask yourself: When was the last or first time I joined a Stop the War demonstration, signed a petition, wrote my Senator or U. S. Representative or visited a grave site of an American Iraq war hero? We can all agree that this war touches every community in all aspects of our lives. Demand that your elected officials, at every level of government, state and local included, Democrats as well as Republicans, go on the record as to where they stand on the war. Who or what do they support when it comes to pulling our spinning wheels out of the blood-stained quicksands of Iraq. Many have been quick to mouth hollow catch phrases such as “Freedom isn’t free.” Now is the time for these same people to tell us what price, human and dollar, they are willing to pay for a war that has failed to bring freedom or security at home or abroad.

Stand up for what you know, what you feel. Voting is not enough to stop this tragic war. If you don’t want this to be a war without end, work, speak and act against this war, a war without purpose. Only then will we as a nation be in position to fight terrorism as it should be fought–united rather than divided by self-serving lies, plastic patriotism and stubborn excuses and evasions.


Blogger gary daily said...

U.N. says Iraqi deaths hit new high in Oct
Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:39 AM GMT27

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi deaths hit a new high in October and more than 2 million people have fled their homes since the U.S. invasion to escape violence that is segregating the country on sectarian lines, a U.N. report said on Wednesday.

October's civilian death toll of 3,709 was up from 3,345 in September, according to U.N. figures based on Health Ministry data. July's death toll of 3,590 had been the highest to date.

The report said the deteriorating security situation increased poverty and generated "unparalleled" population movement, with 418,392 people displaced within Iraq due to sectarian violence since the February bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in Samarra, which triggered a surge in violence.

It said in addition to those displaced in Iraq, nearly 100,000 people were fleeing to Syria and Jordan every month, taking the total number estimated to have sought refuge abroad since the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003 to 1.6 million.

Baghdad was the epicentre of the violence, accounting for nearly 5,000 of all the deaths in September and October, with most of the bodies bearing signs of torture and gunshot wounds.

In its bimonthly human rights report, the United Nations said sectarian attacks were the main source of violence, fuelled by insurgent attacks and militias as well as criminal groups.

"Entire communities have been affected to various degrees and, in some areas, neighbourhoods have been split up or inhabitants have been forced to flee to other areas or even to neighbouring countries in search of safety," the report said.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

11:31 AM  

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