We have been living under a black, cold cloud for nearly three and a half years.
We wake up and go to sleep afraid. Our conversations are wary and fearful. We feel the hatred from people from other countries. We know the War on Iraq is generating more hate and more terrorists. We know our private lives are being monitored and recorded by agents of our own government. We know our soldiers are killing innocent Iraqi civilians. We know the unleashed sectarian violence in Iraq is out of control.
We know that the only way to end this bloody debacle is to bring the troops home and we are finally finding the courage to say it. The time-to-get-out-of-Iraq message sent by Connecticut voters on behalf of Ned Lamont was loud and clear. They voted against an old-liner whose voting record was in lock-step with the war machine.
It is too late to cry over spilt milk, but one can’t but wonder what might have happened after 9/11 with a wiser, saner leadership. Attacking Iraq was topic A at President Bush’s very first national security meeting, according to Paul O’Neill, former Treasury Secretary. As is common knowledge, Bush and his team just used 9/11 as an excuse to follow through with their plan. Someone poked a finger in our eye so we poked two fingers in somebody else’s eye? The decision will be seen as the village idiot of US foreign policy for years to come.
The kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers became Israel’s "9/11." The Israeli leadership used the incident to justify their attack on Lebanon.
The US/Israeli military strategies exposed by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker conjured up pictures of hedonistic old men who hold leadership positions in both governments. Tony Blair appeared to have a day pass. They were on their hands and knees playing with wind-up toy soldiers, miniature bombers and bunker busters on a plastic replica of the Middle East the size of a football field. They jabbed each other in the ribs and whispered about secret torture camps. They studied the bombing and strafing of Kosovo and plotted the bombing and strafing of Lebanon. They scribbled notes that read, "Faster! Faster!" and passed them to white coats furiously constructing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Orders for weapons rang in from every corner of the earth and the gold piled high against the walls. The old men paused and giggled and slapped shiny medals on one another’s chests, oblivious to the death cries, oblivious to the future of the earth.
The Connecticut election brought with it an autumn breeze that lifted the veil covering the US/Israeli War Propaganda machine. People saw the Wizard of Oz, or was it Karl Rove? sitting on a mountain of blood-soaked corpses, whipping up fear and spinning facts, spewing one-sided sound bites into his microphone.
So why did it take us nearly three and a half years to realize that the senseless torture and massacre of innocent people was probably not a good idea? The National Intelligence Council published a report in January, 2005, indicating that the War on Iraq was actually a training ground, not a deterrent, for terrorists. Why did it take us so long to catch on and what have we lost?
It took us so long because the Democrats in Congress (except for a few notable men and women) stood silently by and watched and voted for war. They seemed to be shrink-wrapped. Hopefully, one day we’ll find out why. It is clear, though, in studying their voting records which members of Congress, such as Joe Liebermann, were influenced not only by the Bush team, but by the Israeli Lobby that has such a tight grip on the country, as described by Tom Hayden in Counterpunch.
It took us so long because of an eerie media blackout. All but one of the daily papers endorsed the war. The corporate media continued, and still continues, to pound the US/Israeli War Propaganda drum daily. "Unpatriotic" and "anti-Semitic" warnings were used to threaten anyone who disagreed with the US/Israeli war policies. There was no balanced analysis of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the US invasion of Afghanistan, the US invasion of Iraq or the recent brutality in Lebanon. It was hard to find any perspective but that of the Bush administration. It was very hard to even find out how many people on the other sides had been killed. The attacked and occupied people were not only demonized, but were given no voice.
The Middle East, in spite of what the US/Israeli media want us to believe, is not a cohesive block preying in Israel. It is a bunch of contending, struggling little countries that never even came to the collective military or humanitarian aid of their Palestinian brothers who have been oppressed by Israel for so many years. Hezbollah, originally a terrorist organization much like Menachem Begin’s militant Zionist organization, Irgun, had matured into a democratically elected, if minor, element of the Lebanese government. Now the Israeli/US attacks on Lebanon have motivated 80% of the Lebanese population to support Hezbollah.
To break this three and a half year spell, we need first to loosen the stranglehold of the military industrial complex President Eisenhower warned us about: enormous military budgets, huge standing armies, weapons development industries that market their weapons to anybody who’ll pay. As the war engine of the world, we are on a collision course and we need to shut it down and break loose before the world blows up in our faces.
There were no terrorists in Iraq before the US invasion. The US created terrorism in Iraq and will continue to activate terrorist cells until the "training ground" is shut down and the US troops are brought home. The insurgency is fueled by the occupation. The Iraqi leaders of all factions agree that the US must be expelled. No one can guess beyond the US exit. Civil war may continue or it may not. If it does, the US will be in a better position to influence a peaceful solution than we are as occupiers bashing down doors with M16s.
We need to construct a new foreign policy in which the US becomes an integral part of creating a peaceful, functioning world. The possibilities are immense. Nixon visited China and made peace. We are still trading with China. Lebanon is much less intimidating than China. After years of being an arch enemy, the USSR is our ally. War is a pretty fundamental testosterone game. Isn’t it time to raise the bar? Isn’t it time to step up to the plate as a reasoned world player instead of a demented prince who breaks promises and refuses to honor treaties? Isn’t it time to use our intelligence, creativity and resources to negotiate peace treaties and build alliances?
The losses suffered in this recent, savage phase of history have been catastrophic. The wasted human lives will weigh heavily on our collective conscience for years to come. Over 100,000 people are dead or wounded.
A terrible new kind of anti-Semitism is spilling into the hearts and minds of Americans. I heard about it bubbling up across the country and witnessed it personally in San Francisco at a recent peace demonstration. It was the passion behind anti-Israel slogans chanted. It was the fire in an anti-Jewish chant. It was a protest from people whose friends and families had been murdered or whose apartment buildings, roads, water systems, bridges and hospitals had been bombed by the savage Israeli attack on Lebanon. It was a protest from people with relatives in Palestine. It was an anguished cry from people who had been allowed no voice in the US or Israel.
Two men wearing yarmulkes listened to the chanters and scribbled their own handwritten sign which read, "Israel, stop the killing!" The beleaguered expressions and nods of some of the older marchers, some of them also Jewish, acknowledged their agreement with the chanters.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll taken at the time of the Connecticut election indicated that most Americans are anti-incumbent, which means they don’t like the way the people in office have done their jobs. They want decisive policy change. The Democratic Party, just as in the last election, is side-stepping the issue that is strangling the country. They are clinging to the Democratic National Committee economic fixation with the "middle class."
The people of Connecticut, the new patriots who had the courage to vote their consciences, have given us hope. They voted for a new, anti-war voice. We need more new voices, new visionaries. We are short of time. We need candidates, from whatever political parties, who are not afraid to look the War on Iraq straight in the eye and call for withdrawal. We need one another, on the ground, doing everything we can to bring this war engine to a dead stop. So very much is at stake, for us and for the world.
LAURA SANTINA is co-chair of the Berkeley/East Bay branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She is a freelance political and environmental writer and author of the novel, The Used Husband Store. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org