Swans Commentary » swans.com March 24, 2008  



Five Years And Still Drinking The Kool-Aid


by Jan Baughman





(Swans - March 24, 2008)  Five years into the Iraq War -- the latest in America's campaign of perpetual combat in which few profit and countless others suffer -- is a time to reflect on the tragic consequences of the military-industrial-congressional complex, in a global economy teetering on the brink, and an upcoming presidential election whose outcome promises more of the same cloaked in change. When will we break out of propaganda's spell to the realization that we are not a peaceable nation generously spreading democracy for the good of the world, and recognize that all human beings are entitled to respect and dignity, and not to be treated as dispensable collateral standing between us and their commodities? Not until we, en masse, stop drinking the Kool-Aid and acknowledge that our own country's values are destroying our quality of life -- from education, health care, housing, infrastructure, and the prospects for our elder years and those of our children. And certainly not before we become a civilized people that reject an armed society in which we are all moving targets, and, in the name of rugged individualism, are mere pawns in the game of corporate profits.

I recently found myself on an e-mail distribution list of a high school friend in the conservative bastion of Orange County, California, in which I grew up and from which I fled at the first opportunity. Rather than putting a stop to the propaganda I decided to let it flow, for it provides a glimpse into the rhetoric that resonates among much of this country. A recent missive went like this, with the subject: "One of the best emails I've seen":

A mother asked President...
"Why did my son have to die in Iraq?"

A mother asked President...
"Why did my son have to die in Saudi Arabia?"

A mother asked President...
"Why did my son have to die in Kuwait?"

Another mother asked President...
"Why did my son have to die in Vietnam?"

Another mother asked President...
"Why did my son have to die in Korea?"

Another mother asked President...
"Why did my son have to die on Iwo Jima?"

Another mother asked President...
"Why did my son have to die on a battlefield on a field in France?"

Yet another mother asked President...
"Why did my son have to die at Gettysburg?"

And yet another mother asked President...
"Why did my son have to die on a frozen field near Valley Forge?"

Then long, long ago, a mother asked...
"Heavenly Father. Why did my Son have to die on a cross outside of Jerusalem?"

The answer is the same...

"So that others may have life and dwell in peace, happiness, and freedom."

This was emailed to me with no author.

I thought the magnitude and the simplicity were awesome.


With all those wars and the myriad others not referenced above, exactly who and where are those lucky others dwelling in peace, happiness, and freedom? And why, if we oppose war, must we stand in front of our troops to be killed? Where does the violence end, and who prevails? The one with the biggest gun, of course. Where is the outrage that says "IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO CARE FOR OUR DISABLED AND TRAUMATIZED TROOPS UPON THEIR RETURN, PLEASE, PLEASE, FEEL FREE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THEM"? Or more importantly, "IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO STAND BEHIND THE COUNTLESS DISPLACED, INJURED, AND MURDERED INNOCENT CIVILIANS, PLEASE, PLEASE, FEEL FREE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THEM AND FACE THE SAME FATE"?

Recall the 2006 elections and their anti-Iraq-war mandate? The people spoke...and the authorization for the so-called surge and funding of the war continues. There's not much left for a supposed antiwar politico to do, but scapegoat. Speaking on the occasion of the war's 5th anniversary, Nancy Pelosi stated, "With the war in Iraq entering its sixth year, Americans are rightly concerned about how much longer our nation must continue to sacrifice our security for the sake of an Iraqi government that is unwilling or unable to secure its own future." We destroy a nation and then expect it to secure its future without any sacrifice on our behalf? Imagine your home being bombed; some members of your family killed, others forced to flee to another country for their safety; electricity available only a few hours a day; neighborhood markets unsafe to visit and the price of what supplies are available is untenable because you have no job -- but it's up to you to find the means to secure your future, or else... Or else what, we'll leave? We'll stay forever?

On the other side of the aisle remains the rhetoric that the war on Iraq was, is, and always will be the right decision. On that same anniversary, Mr. Bush insisted that "The men and women who crossed into Iraq five years ago removed a tyrant, liberated a country, and rescued millions from unspeakable horrors," when the only unspeakable horrors are those neatly kept out of the headlines and photojournalism of the last five years. That "the speed, precision and brilliant execution of the campaign will be studied by military historians for years to come" belies the consequences of the disastrous campaign that will be studied for years to come, while Mr. Bush lives on as a hopeless romantic wishing he were young enough to join the battlefields of Afghanistan, only because he isn't.

Although Speaker Pelosi won't say it, in an interview with Martha Raddatz, Dick Cheney showed no reluctance to dismiss the country's antiwar sentiment:

Vice President Dick Cheney: "On the security front, I think there's a general consensus that we've made major progress, that the surge has worked. That's been a major success."

Martha Raddatz: "Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting."

Cheney: "So?"

Raddatz: "So? You don't care what the American people think?"

Cheney: "No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls."

In an impassioned March 13 (Villanova, PA) campaign speech that was otherwise unheard of from any of the mainstream presidential candidates, Michelle Obama posited that what is lacking among us is empathy. To what depths we must plunge to regain this empathy is hard to fathom but we must find it, for our neighbor in the house next door and the country next door. We must make our voices heard and our votes count, so that we are not continuously blown off by the powers that be that have no regard for those of us -- each and every one of us -- who stand in their path.



"President Bush Discusses Global War on Terror," March 19, 2008

"Over 200 Arrested in Nationwide Protests on 5-Year Mark of Iraq War" (Dick Cheney quote)

"Afghanistan challenge romantic - Bush: US President George W Bush says he would fight in Afghanistan if he was younger," by Tabassum Zakaria, March 14, 2008

"Michelle Obama Campaign Rally in Villanova, PA"


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Internal Resources

The Rape of Iraq

Patterns which Connect

America the 'beautiful'

US Elections & Democracy


About the Author

Jan Baughman on Swans (with bio).



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art14/jeb189.html
Published March 24, 2008