Three Years of Shame

The three year anniversary of the war in Iraq has come and gone and what have we to show for it? The first thing that comes to my mind is that over 2,000 of our own young men and women are dead along with a growing and uncountable number of Iraqi civilians who have also been claimed in the all-about-oil fiasco.

Many people believe Iraq was better off under the iron rule of Saddam. Well, at least it was stable. Nevertheless, I’m not from Iraq, so my opinion is pretty shallow on this subject. But wouldn’t it be an interesting poll if we could get all the Iraqi citizens to tell us which country was better—the pre-war Saddam Iraq or the post-war Bush Iraq.

To put it lightly, I’m amused to know that the person who put us there (our President) keeps telling us to be patient and that “we are implementing a strategy that will lead to a victory in Iraq.” As I consider his request for patience, I find myself considering the lies, half-truths and blunders of the man and his administration that have lead us to this point in time.

First there was the “axis of evil” Dubya coined regarding Iran, North Korea and Iraq. This proved to the President’s best attribute as a leader—spreading fear among his own countrymen. I’ve never doubted the potential harm any of these countries could bring to the world, but I never saw them any worse than China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Russia, or other nuclear-armed states. His rhetoric (as usual) was simply over-the-top and unnecessary.

Next, Wyoming’s very own, Dick Cheney, went on the record to say, “There is no doubt that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction” to use against the United States and its allies. “No doubt.” Is that right, Dick? Don’t people get fired for making such asinine claims in other occupations?

Then it was back to Dubya and Condoleeeeeezzzzzzza Rice and their visions of a smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud—no doubt their vision included the diabolical cloud lingering over a large metropolitan city of the United States. Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism! (Our leader’s most popular and worn-out word.)

Our war-bent leader was next standing before the United Nations (because it wasn’t enough to just tell us) claiming that Iraq was “a grave and gathering danger.” Oooooooo! He went on to say that Saddam and al Qaeda were working together on bomb-making projects and developing poisonous gasses. The administration continued to insist that there was “solid evidence of al Qaeda in Baghdad”—training in chemical and biological weapons.

At the same time, United Nations weapons inspectors were coming up empty-handed and refuting some of the President’s claims regarding Iraq attempting to purchase uranium in Africa. Dubya also concluded that a discovered cache of aluminum tubes was “suitable for nuclear weapons production.” As it turned out the African uranium was based on forged documents and the tubes were only being used for a small rocket project. Still Bush insisted on Iraq’s desire to obtain nuclear weapons. No one listened to the United Nations inspectors, everyone listened to our fire-breathing President.

As we prepared to invade Iraq, Dick Cheney told us that our troops would be welcomed in Iraq as “liberators.” Ahhhh… excuse me Dick, did you mean the same kind of liberators that freed France and other European countries during WWII? Right…

Finally, I thought President Bush looked pretty dumb on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln after his fighter-jet-arrival with the “Mission Accomplished” banner waving in the background as he spoke. Looking back on it now, I think he looks even dumber. The man seems to redefine the term every time I turn on the news.

Two years later and several investigations and commissions (including one appointed by Dubya himself) we’ve learned two distinct things:

  1. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
  2. There was no relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein

So, basically we went to war based on two false premises, and now we’re stuck there. The ultimate quagmire. And we thought Vietnam was bad.

And things aren’t getting any better in Iraq since our arrival no matter how much President Bush sugar-coats his anecdotal accounts. Consider the city of Basra: Many considered this to be the first major city of Iraq to get on its feet because it is mostly Shiites and there was very little conflict when the troops moved into this coastal town. Yet today, three years after the invasion, sewage runs freely in the streets, unemployment is catastrophic and electricity is still iffy at best.

Civil war in Iraq? This just in…

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents stormed a jail around dawn Tuesday in the Sunni Muslim heartland north of Baghdad, killing 19 police and a courthouse guard in a prison break that freed at least 33 prisoners and left 10 attackers dead, authorities said. As many as 100 insurgents armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades stormed the judicial compound in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles northeast of the capital. The assault began after the attackers fired a mortar round into the police and court complex, said police Brig. Ali al-Jabouri. After burning the police station, the insurgents detonated roadside bombs as they fled, taking the bodies of many of their dead comrades with them, police said. At least 13 policemen and civilians and 15 gunmen were wounded.

In defending this accusation of civil war in Iraq, President Bush said that the country’s army is still united and hasn’t broken up into sectarian divisions. I’m not an expert on civil war, but if this isn’t civil war, surely Iraq is only one step away.

Here’s what gets me. People get fired from their jobs every day for a number of reasons—some of which are quite petty; reporters loose their jobs for getting the facts wrong, cashiers are turned loose for dipping into the till and lawyers are collecting unemployment because they can’t win enough cases. So, it seems like a no-brainer to me that if someone starts a war that was based on lies and/or faulty intelligence they’ve collected, I’d say that’s good enough reason to give them the pink slip. How is it that this bozo is still in charge?

I know one isn’t suppose to say this, I suppose it’s rather unpatriotic, but thanks to the country’s leadership and dreadful foreign policy, I’m quite ashamed to be an American. There, I said it. Big deal, so what? Nevertheless, I haven’t given up on America even if I gave up on George Bush and his cronies long ago.

Time and time again, George W. Bush props himself up on the target range—and what an easy mark to hit. Can anyone blame me or others who keep on returning to this colossal bull’s-eye?

Coming to a Halt

2 April 2003

Yesterday was an eventful day in Powell history. The first combat casualty of the war with Iraq was laid to rest here in this small town of just under 6,000 residents. Of all the places to claim the first loss of life in the war, Powell’s name came to the top—what a lottery to win. Although the Lieutenant did not grow up here, his parents have been residents for several years and thus, Powell ended up in the nation’s headlines.

The funeral for 2nd Lt. Therrel Shane Childress was held in the college gymnasium with an estimated 1,200 in attendance. The town turned out like he was truly one of their own. The funeral was short and simple. Following the services, Lt. Childress’ remains were taken to Crown Hill Cemetery on the outskirts of town for burial including full military honours. I did not attend the burial due to an afternoon class commitment.

That evening after night class, I jumped on my bicycle and headed home while thinking of the Lieutenant. Every time someone is laid to rest that I know (or at least know beyond the news), I always find myself thinking about them on that first evening following their burial. A stark and blunt epiphany finds me, “This will be the first night of an eternity that he will spend in the cold, dark ground.” The idea or thought comes to me as if that person were still alive or aware of their surroundings. As if they were sentenced to an eternity of camping out in the same place and being totally self-supporting. Even in death, Lt. Childress’ body was cared for and watched over up until last night. Resources were consumed. I was told by one reporter at the funeral that a lone marine stands guard over another marine’s body twenty-four, seven until he is finally laid to rest.

And so yesterday afternoon, all the inertia related to this fine soldier came to a final and definite halt. While the dynamics of the world beyond his tomb continue to move about and change, nothing will change within that tiny, confined space of a coffin that is now the only world of what remains of Lt. Childress. And nothing is needed from beyond that tomb for the remainder of the soldier’s journey wherever it may lead—not even the basics of food, warmth or companionship. Barring the catastrophic destruction of the earth, relocation of the cemetery or some future law that will abolish and call for the destruction of cemeteries, what remains of Lt. Childress can and will always be found in the same place here in (of all places) Powell, Wyoming—you can count on it.