Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

March 26, 2013

Lion and the Lamb: A sad anniversary to remember

CROSSVILLE — On March 20 ten years ago, President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney took our nation into the Iraq War. According to George Tenet, director of the CIA, it was supposed to be a “slam-dunk.” In fact, on May 1 of that year Bush, standing before a “Mission Accomplished” banner on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, declared the end of “major combat” in Iraq.

Today at the ten-year mark, however, the Iraq War is being described as one of the biggest disasters in the history of our nation. The figures are disturbing: An amount of $2 trillion has already been spent. Nearly 5,000 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives (either in combat or through suicide). Tens of billions will still be needed for continuing troop disability expenses. It is costing over $600 million a year to guard the giant U.S. Embassy and its personnel in Baghdad.

The figures for the Iraqi side are disquieting, too. Over one million Iraqis have died due to the invasion. Five million have become refugees, many fleeing to other countries. But the worst outcome for the Iraqi people is taking place as they suffer from contamination resulting from Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions, white phosphorous, a new kind of napalm, and bullets containing lead, uranium, and mercury. Between 2002 and 2005, the U.S. armed forces expended six billion of these bullets.

Two Iraqi cities, Fallujah and Basrah, have exhibited increasing rates of cancer and congenital birth defects: children being born with two heads, only one eye in the center of their face, multiple tumors, disfiguring facial and body deformities, and complex nervous system problems. The majority of families had returned to their bombarded homes and lived there, or otherwise rebuilt on top of the contaminated rubble of their old homes. The remaining traces of DU in Iraq represent a formidable long-term environmental hazard since they will remain radioactive for more than 4.5 billion years.

Another source of Iraqi anger against the U.S. (still continuing today) was the treatment that Iraqi prisoners received in fourteen U.S. prisons in Iraq after 2003. A leaked report from the International Committee of the Red Cross listed treatment that included mock executions, waterboarding, painful stress positions, extreme heat and cold, sleep deprivation, electric shocks, rape and sodomy, and sexual humiliation.

Two days before the Iraq War began, a group of veteran Intelligence professionals wrote a Memorandum to President Bush, urging him not to attack Iraq. In it they stated that the intelligence information upon which the attack was being based—the reports of uranium, aluminum tubes, and weapons of mass destruction—was fraudulent and cooked. It appeared, they said, that the administration was shaping the intelligence for political purposes. Needless to say, their Memorandum was ignored and the war commenced.

On the Internet there is a moving “Last Letter” written by Tomas Young, an Iraq War veteran who was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City and is now under hospice care. He wrote the letter to George Bush and Dick Cheney on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. Following are two paragraphs from his letter. They are rather long, but it’s important for us to hear what this dying man has to say:

“I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to ‘liberate’ Iraqis or to shut down the mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called ‘democracy’ in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out preemptive war. Preemptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

“I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.”   

There are many things to think about on this tenth anniversary.

• • •

This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: Time for an oil change

    The land of Iraq, earlier known as Mesopotamia, has a long history going back to Neanderthal times some 60,000 years ago. Later, around 10,000 years ago, it became the site for some of the most important developments in human history: the invention of the wheel, planting of cereal crops, the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture. Today it is recognized as one of the cradles of civilization.

    July 8, 2014

  • We the People: American women, be informed and vote

    Voting for today’s Republican Party and its Tea Party members, means you are voting against more than most realize.  This is especially true for women.

    July 8, 2014

  • TIDBITS: Beat the heat in July and August

    I hope everyone enjoyed the Independence Day weekend, with lots of celebration and fun. We couldn’t have asked for better weather this July 4, or 5 or 6. In fact, it was so nice I was tempted to try and bottle some of that sunshine, low humidity and gentle breeze that greeted me each morning.

    July 7, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: Demand better from government workers

    In a recent congressional hearing we learned that the VA awarded excessive bonuses to nearly all of their doctors and administrators. In a recent column we mentioned that the civil service employment provisions should be revised so that federal employees in the executive branch could be fired if they don’t perform to the satisfaction of the president. The president would then know that he (or she) will be solely responsible for any failures of the administration and would be more likely to demand hiring competent employees and insist on satisfactory performance.

    July 7, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Getting under the skin

    Last week on June 18, a department of the federal government announced an important ruling concerning the National Football League's Washington Redskins. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office declared that the name "Redskins," a designation based on skin color, was disparaging to Native Americans.

    June 24, 2014

  • We the People: Which way is up?

    The latest Rasmussen poll finds that almost two-thirds of us think the nation is heading in the “wrong direction.” Less than a third think we are on the “right track.” (We could obsess over the difference between “direction” and “track,” but let’s not.) Rasmussen takes a poll of likely voters every week.

    June 24, 2014

  • Tidbits: A yay-boo time for doughnuts

    Regular readers of my column will know, I have a sweet tooth. I love all kinds of pastries and confections, baked treats and iced deliciousness. Among my top five list of sweet treats are doughnuts. I'm particularly fond of cake doughnuts, an ingenious way to combine two of my favorite treats. And, if you get the blueberry cake doughnuts, it makes a perfectly acceptable breakfast for the busy gal on the go.

    June 23, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Whose war is it now?

    During the 2004 Presidential campaign Democratic Party nominee John Kerry referred to Vietnam as “Nixon’s war.” At first I thought calling Vietnam Nixon’s war a mistake because the first escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam began with John F. Kennedy when he increased U.S. military advisors in South Vietnam to 18,000, then continued after his death with Lyndon Johnson’s increase to 550,000 full combat troops.

    June 23, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: The NRA takes aim on the Constitution

    This past week Everytown for Gun Safety, a group advocating greater gun control, reported that in the 18 months since the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, there have been 74 school shootings in our nation. The U.S. has now become the world leader in this category. And if we were to include all firearm-related incidents, we would find that more than 30,000 people in our nation die each year from these.

    June 17, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Kick corporate greed out of schools

    Last month I promised to end my series on the “education reform movement” that is tearing apart our traditional public school system. I also promised to suggest how you can help stop this train wreck.

    June 17, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Proposed Bill to Regulate NY Costumed Characters WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' Ana Ortiz on 'Devious Maids' Finale CDC Addresses Lab Safety Problems Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court Death Toll Tops 100 As Israel Offense Continues LeBron James Says He's Returning to Cavaliers Man Flees Police in World Cup Scalping Scheme Robot Writes Jewish Torah Scroll Raw: Israel, Gaza Exchange Rocket Fire More Immigrants Detained Along Rio Grande World Cup Final Pits Argentina Against Germany Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Thousands Attend NYC Firefighter's Funeral Art of Haitian Machete Fighting Revived Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta Mass. Mayor: Families Lost Everything in Fire Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats Robots Gearing Up for Their Own 'World Cup'
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014