ten years on: hate mail to bush and cheney from a dying iraq war veteran and war resister

Yesterday, March 19, 2013, was the 10th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Looking for something to post, I sorted through about a dozen essays and stories online, but nothing reflected the anger and sadness and disgust and urgency and frustration I feel about everything connected with the ongoing Iraq War. I didn't write something myself, because it feels like I've said everything I have to say a good 50 times over.

I'm going to leave my post to Tomas Young. Young is an Iraq war veteran, and he is dying. He was profiled in the documentary "Body of War," which I wrote about when we screened it as a fundraiser for the War Resisters Support Campaign and the local chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Chris Hedges recently wrote about Young here: The Crucifixion of Tomas Young.

In his powerful letter, Young writes to the architects and salesmen of the Iraq War. I don't agree with everything Young writes. I don't see the invasion of Afghanistan as justified by September 11th or anything else. And I only wish I agreed with Young that Bush and Cheney will see some sort of reckoning in the hereafter. In my worldview, the Bushes and Cheneys of the world will continue to lead lives of wealth and privilege, unscathed by their actions that have killed and irreparably harmed so many millions of people - until the revolution. But Young's damning appraisal, the force of his emotions, and his willingness to speak out until his dying breath are gifts to us all, and must be shared.
I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Read the letter here.

For another view of the betrayal of US veterans, see the documentary "The Invisible War," about the ongoing rape and sexual assault within the US military. I was strongly cautioned not to see it, as friends thought it would be intensely triggering, but I hear it's one of the most powerful and devastating films you will ever see.

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