three years

It's been a while since I've blogged something by Reggie Rivers, the former Denver Broncos player who writes a column in the Denver Post. He's a thoughtful man and a good writer, with smart observations about the war in Iraq and the regressive movement of the US. Plus, as a critically thinking, liberal-minded football player, he's a stereotype-buster, and I like that.

Yesterday Rivers asked, "You Call This Support?" (or here on Common Dreams).
This week, The Denver Post has run a front-page series profiling soldiers returning from Iraq. Their stories were sad and powerful, and they illustrate the varied backgrounds and experiences of our troops.

The series puts a human face on the suffering caused by the war and reveals just how small a stake most of us have in the Iraqi conflict. We're not being asked to pay a special war tax. We don't have to ration anything. We're not seeing our brothers, sons, fathers and uncles drafted into the service. And most of us don't have a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan.

While the war rages on the other side of the globe, we simply live our uninterrupted lives.

. . .

Despite our rhetoric about supporting the troops, our actions suggest a deep indifference. Maybe that's because the war doesn't cost us anything or provide any entertainment for us. We care about the NFL playoffs, because we have money riding on the games, or because we're passionate about our Broncos. But the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent in Iraq is borrowed money that's not coming directly out of our pockets, and the troops are mostly people who we don't know.

Two years ago, I wrote a column in which I referred to U.S. soldiers as "slaves." The column was not well received. Most people believed that I was denigrating the troops. My point was that our perception of the average soldier is off the mark. We think of these men and women as volunteers who signed up for military service and are therefore willing to fight. As long as we believe that, we won't worry much about the impact the war is having on them and their families.

As long as we think of them as volunteers, we won't demand answers about the necessity of the war, we won't agitate for an exit strategy, we won't push for a reduction in troops and we won't marshal more help for their struggling families. When you believe that a person volunteered for a difficult job, then you'll respect him and express your amazement at his commitment, but you won't necessarily feel the urge to rescue him.

But if we actually see our soldiers for what they are - mostly young people who signed up because they wanted to travel and/or get an education - then we'll realize that most of them are being held in Iraq against their will. They can't escape until we pay attention, recognize their plight, and do whatever it takes to bring them home.
Read the column here.

We're coming up on the third anniversary of this debacle. Three years, can you believe it? Tens of thousands of lives wasted, we can't even guess at how many people permanently disabled, homeless, orphaned. The US economy drained (to pay for private contracts, off which people profit), the military stretched way past the breaking point (what if they're really needed?), and always, the seeds of hatred towards the US and the American people sown more fruitfully every day.

Most of us know: that W lied to garner public support for an invasion that was already planned, that the Iraqi people had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001, that US presence in Iraq is (and always will be) a provocation to violence.

Many of us also know that the US troops were not given the necessary equipment to keep them safe, that the same administration who sent these young people to kill and be killed in Iraq cut veterans' benefits, that the principal players have never fought a day of combat themselves. (And they question our patriotism??)

Yet, even though the much of the public knows this, the war continues.

Many Americans can ignore the war. Many who oppose it feel powerless to affect change, or overwhelmed with issues on the domestic front. Congress could demand an immediate end to the war, but they're too busy... What is it they're busy with again? Rubber-stamping everything the administration gives them?

Meanwhile, what appears to be a spectacular failure is in reality wildly successful, as the people who exhort us to "support our troops" profit off death and destruction. Because you can't spell Iraq without O-I-L.

We're coming up on three years. Three years!

It's frustrating as hell, but we've got to do what we can. Circulate information. Write letters to your local newspaper. Americans, write your Senator and Congressperson. Put a peace bumper sticker on your car, and wear a peace t-shirt at the mall. (Visibility is important!) Attend meetings, rallies, demos.. Donate to peace groups. Support veterans' and veterans' family groups: Veterans Against the War in Iraq, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out.

Three years! How many more?


allan said...

Last October, Cheney said the US must be prepared to fight the war on terror(tm) for decades.

Back in October 2001, Cheney said the war on terror "is different than the Gulf War was, in the sense that it may never end. At least, not in our lifetime."

And with the news of the past few weeks, Iran is clearly in their sights.

Their perpetual war is just beginning.

laura k said...

I wish George Orwell wasn't so right all the time.

Bruce Johnson said...

All of this can be traced back to the 1920s, when US oil companies found oil over there. The you-know-what really hit the fan in 1948 when the US recognized the new state of Israel. From that point on, America has been viewed as anti-Arab by the predominantly Arab Middle East (gee, what a way to make friends). America’s relationship with the Arab world has been on a downhill slide for about 80 years, and I don’t see it getting anything but worse in the foreseeable future. I’ve been saying for many years that if we’d stayed the hell out of there in the first place, we’d have been much better off. Think of the conglomerate where one large company buys up small companies and tries, unsuccessfully, to run them, and then ends up spinning them off (selling them), and being worse off financially than if they’d not treaded where they were in over their heads.

Unfortunately, our escapades in the Middle East have been similar, but the results are much more dangerous and costly, not only in financial terms, but in much more important terms—human lives.

We are making mistakes to try to take care of mistakes we made in the past. Why does that sound like it won’t work? So is Iran our next mistake? If so, the US can do it without me.

laura k said...

All of this can be traced back to the 1920s, when US oil companies found oil over there.

Part of it can be traced to that, surely. Part also to the same imperialism and adventurism that got the US into southeast Asia, and Latin America.

Re making mistakes to make up for mistakes, I just read this review of a book that outlines how that happened in the short term.

So is Iran our next mistake? If so, the US can do it without me.

Good! Are you of draft age?

I have five nieces and nephews, ages 16 to 24. As far as I'm concerned, they can all sleep on my couch and my floor. We'll fill out little house up with draft resisters if it comes to that.

sevenpointman said...

I applaud your tenacity and your insights.
This horrible war must be exposed for what it is.
This is the rage and rant stage priming the pump of miltant and persistent activism for peace and justice.
But this stage gets bogged down in what it does in stage two.
This should be the offering of groundbreaking solutions to the problems we rightfully are raging and ranting about.
At this point all the forces of history are ripe for change, if we apply enough diligence in creating alternatives against the crimes, propaganda and deception, of this system and its leaders.
In September 2004 I made a meager attempt to fight the power by formulating an independent exit strategy for Iraq.
It appears on my blog:sevenpointman

Check it out,

Keep the faith.
My good sister.


laura k said...

Howard, thank you for this great comment and your show of solidarity.

Your plan shows a great deal of insight and understanding of the factors involved. I applaud you for having thought the whole thing through. Let me know what I can do to help spread the word.

Bruce Johnson said...

Yes, our leaders are guilty of the very imperialism we fought against in the Revolutionary War.

I'm beyond draft age, but that doesn't mean I'm going to sit here and watch my country keep deteriorating.

To those who might suggest I am not a patriotic American...why should I go down with my ship just because the captain is drunk?

laura k said...

I'm beyond draft age, but that doesn't mean I'm going to sit here and watch my country keep deteriorating.

Oh yes! Absolutely. I was just wondering in what sense you meant "without me".

To those who might suggest I am not a patriotic American...why should I go down with my ship just because the captain is drunk?

Well said!

Blind patriotism + junta = fascism. If you are trying to stay loyal to the ideals of America, you have to find another country.

I don't know where you are or what you're thinking of, but if you want to move to Canada and you need advice, ask away. movetocanada@gmail.com

Bruce Johnson said...

I don't know where you are or what you're thinking of, but if you want to move to Canada and you need advice, ask away. movetocanada@gmail.com


Granny said...

This is the post which prompted me to send the email today.

My heart aches for my country.

I belong to a group called moveon.org and we write, we phone, we hold vigils.

And I co-write a blog (tiny but still out there)

I spend most Fridays from 4:30 to 5:30 with at least one of my great-granddaughters, my sign and my little candle on the main street of town. We're picking up supporters.

It's not enough. Nothing is, but we try.

You're now on the blogroll. Thanks for adding us to yours.

Take care

sevenpointman said...

An easy answer to the inertia of the circumstances is to doubt our ability to both change ourselves and the world. Both of these dynamic courses in our individual and social praxis are possible if we are determned to analyse our situation with new eyes and to create new options for our life. The psychology of oppression and death is not inevitable or written in the stars. The precious balancing properties of communithy,giving, healing and human labor, against the negative forces of greed, malfeasance, poverty, violence,patriarchy, class conflict,ignorance and subterfuge, can add vital values of wonder,sustainability, and free association to our lives.
Then we can all restore our world and work for a more promising future-one where war will be only the very,last resort in defense of these sacred values, and not the first choice of power, as an offense against our own existence.

M@ said...

I have nothing to add to the stuff here, in the post and in the comments -- except to say well said.

As for the question of perpetual war -- L-Girl (and anyone else), I too am willing and able to shelter draft dodgers, if it comes to that. I think many Canadians will find that it is our moral obligation, if it comes to that, to help our fellow human beings first and foremost. I will be glad to be someone who did that.

(I have relatives in the USA but none of draft age, thankfully. Though in "decades" they will be -- which scares the hell out of me.)

allen said...

the story about the couple living in VA (whitebred, etc.) gave me a chuckle or 2. I heard a Southerner the other day say they never knew of the discrimination or predjudice, their families steered them around all of it.

Well, we (new Englanders) moved to Raleigh from Augusta ME in 1965 & believe me when I say, it was quite an eye opener. And I often recall growing up in RI where my wife & I were born,as a child, my mother, remarking, much in passing, 'oh, they're still fighting the Civil War down there'. Believe it friends, it's NASCAR, guns, pickup trucks, & all the good-old-boy stuff you saw on TV. Some of it's just beneath the surface, but it's there & you just don't want to be black or gay.
It is important for me to add however, that I met some really fine people in TX, & most Southerners are pretty decent if you stay away from the above subjects---b. or g.

allen said...

'We move to Canada':
My roots go way back in Canada at least from 1789, but my dad migrated here (NE)in the late 1920's & raised a family. I still have cousins scattered about from Goose Bay to Vancouver & lost one in the Channel in 1942 in the CAF. I have lived up there a bit & visited often but I think Ill stay where i am (western North Carolina). I don't like moving & WNC is not the paradise the natives claim, but one makes do with whatever.
I would move to probably the UK, Derry Co. Ireland, but it's just too late & it wouldn't make a drop in the ocean of difference to the System which runs the US.

laura k said...

it wouldn't make a drop in the ocean of difference to the System which runs the US.

I didn't move because it made a difference to them. I moved because it made a difference to me.