"Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let me label you as they may." ~ Mark Twain
Clueless Army Wives
A recent article in the Guardian tells of the frustration of military families in Hinesville, "The Fastest Growing Town in South-Eastern Georgia," adjacent to the now-deserted Fort Stewart. Relatives of troops stationed in Iraq are understandably anxious for their loved ones, and are irritated that their deployment has stretched on months longer than expected, with no promised end in sight.
Even those of us who opposed the war before it began, and who now wish to see U.S. leave Iraq yesterday, if not sooner, can sympathize with the plight of families who are standing helplessly by as their kin are manipulated like puppets in the hands of men like George W. Bush.
That said, I feel compelled to do some bashing after reading the inane quotes in the Guardian. These people (the ones who are willing to speak on the record, at least) are absolutely clueless as to why Iraqis aren't welcoming Americans with open arms. One woman's offering: "I do feel some anger towards Iraqi people. We're just trying to help them." Riiiiight. We're from the Government and we're here to help you. Now bend over.
Or how about this gem: "I thought they would be more enthusiastic. I mean, who wouldn't want to live like Americans, to live in democracy, to send your children to school? I'm surprised at how naive the Iraqis are. Who wouldn't want to have freedom? It's hard for me to understand that they don't grasp the concept."
By all means, let us talk about concepts that need to be grasped, shall we, Ms. Army Wife? Why not begin with a very simple, very obvious mental exercise: The tables are turned. YOUR country, the United States, is being invaded by self-proclaimed "liberators," and YOUR neighborhood has foreign troops rolling through it. YOUR front door is smashed down by the invaders, your house is ransacked in front of your terrified children, your savings are stolen, and your husband and son are taken without explanation to an unknown destination and fate. If that's not enough to paint a horrifyingly vivid picture, let's throw in that the invaders have religious and personal habits you find offensive, even repulsive. Not only that, they have the arrogant attitude that their way of seeing things is the only valid way, and they sneer openly at your deeply held beliefs to the contrary.
Are we starting to "grasp the concept" yet?
Certainly, everyone wants freedom. That includes freedom from home-grown thugs, and yes, Saddam Hussein was, or is, a nasty home-grown thug. But even more, people the world over passionately desire freedom from foreign conquerers. And make no mistake, we are conquerors in Iraq. The phony veneer of "liberation" has by now been completely stripped away. Even those of us who watch nothing but the pablum on CNN (or ABC, CBS, NBC, or any of the other government mouthpieces) should be able to figure this out.
Let's talk about "democracy" for a moment. As many have written, including me, it is foolish in the extreme to treat democracy as if it were an automatic ticket to justice or liberty. Democracy is a quick road to tyranny if not counterbalanced by a stringent Bill of Rights which binds down the ability of the majority to feast off the earnings of, or otherwise meddle unfairly in the lives of, the minority. Nevertheless, democracy has some small but limited place in society, perhaps. Now for the relevant question: Who is hindering the spread of democracy in Iraq today? Anybody know? Why, the occupying forces from the U.S., that's who. Mayoral elections have been repeatedly postponed, then canceled, by none other than us democracy-loving Americans. Can you say "hypocrisy?"
And let's talk about press freedom, an absolutely essential element of any just society. The U.S. is censoring news in Iraq, forbidding the publication of anything critical of the foreign invasion and occupation. Again, try to imagine the tables turned, Ms. Army Wife and friends.
Schooling? How many kids are going to school under U.S. occupation? I haven't seen the numbers, but I'd bet money that far fewer are than did under the Evil Dictator Saddam Hussein. Aside: If you are content with your own children receiving government indoctrination in the U.S. public schools, I feel very sorry for them, and hope they recover successfully once they reach adulthood, and hope they forgive you for your sins.
Naive? It is hard to imagine greater naivety than the belief that one's country can do no wrong, even as it invades and flattens nations that have never picked a fight with us.
This would seem to be about as close as it gets in Hinesville, U.S.A., to genuine criticism of our nation's imperial actions in Iraq: "One wife expressed anxiety about President George Bush's 'bring them on' invitation to Iraqi guerrillas this week, but she stressed that she did not want her name mentioned. 'I support George Bush one hundred per cent,' she said, almost with her next breath."
That's pathetic. Bush has proven time and time again, through his incoherent and irresponsible behavior, that he is a liar, a thief, and a murderer, who is out to line the pockets of his already-rich friends at the expense of everyone else. This conclusion is obvious to almost everybody in the world - except to a dwindling majority of Americans, who desperately cling to the fantasy that the emperor has some shred of clothing left on him. But Bush walks naked. He, and the like-minded souls who whisper in his ear, are the true threats to the world's citizens, American and otherwise.
So here's to the safe and speedy return of all America's troops. I wish a long and peaceful life to every one of you. In that spirit, I have to say to the families in Hinesville and elsewhere, that you would better serve your loved ones if you stopped pretending that the Iraq war was justified, and stopped pretending that Bush and his cronies are good, decent human beings. The longer you hide in self-willed ignorance, the more likely you will live to see your son, husband, daughter, or wife come home in a body bag.