Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Success? Winning? Victory?

Who are George Bush, Dick Cheney, David Petraeus and John McCain talking to? What are they selling?

The only success, the only "winning", the only victory comes when all combatants lay down their arms and declare an end to this war. (Admittedly, this must be difficult with an occupying army and foreign agitators in your midst.)

Only when this comes to pass (as combatants always grow weary of the fight), will there truly be a success, a "winning", a victory. And it will be for all: Sunni, Shiite, Kurd, Muslim, Christian, Arab, Iraqi, Iranian, Saudi, Israeli, American, Syrian, Turk, Afghani, etc.

This is not a game. Not a contest. Yet our leaders frame the conflict as if they're addressing a group of adolescents.

It's an insult to the intelligence of Americans, to the intelligence of Iraqis and to the intelligence of the world community.

It is clear to me that our current leaders do not understand the meaning of success. And they certainly have no strategy for achieving a durable peace. (A durable presence, yes, and many suspect that is the ulterior motive here.)

Many Americans have resigned themselves to simply await the results of the upcoming election, hoping that "regime change at home" will bring an end to the "national nightmare" that is Iraq and Afghanistan.

With 300 days until the inauguration of a new President, 300 more guaranteed days of war, we can anticipate another 3,000 to 15,000 people shall violently lose their lives in Iraq alone. We Americans grieve at the loss of 4,000 of our own over the past five years.

We don't even have the decency to talk about Iraqi losses. They remain nameless, faceless statistics, not even worthy of the energy it might require to count them. We don't even know within an order of magnitude how great are their losses. 60,000? 85,000? 650,000? Over a million? All these numbers have been suggested. By any reckoning, they have taken far more casualties than America took in the Vietnam War. The truth is, most Americans simply don't care. We're too distracted by the game.

The Iraqi people, whose freedom we are so devoted to, and for whom we sacrifice our "blood and treasure", our young soldiers, many still teenagers. Ask yourself. Do you ever think of them?

In the political campaigns here at home, we have the audacity to debate whether racism exists in America. While we argue about what some preacher said from his pulpit, we wage a blatantly racist war in the Middle East.

Any American who fails to oppose this war, who remains silent in the face of our own racist campaign abroad, shares far more guilt than Reverend Wright.

(Published in the April 9th "North Bay Bohemian".)

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