FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Let Us, Like the Iraqis, Have No Illusions

Let us have no illusions.

In Baghdad, once I’d gotten to know someone fairly well, they’d often ask me point blank: “The war, Joe… when is it coming?” And searching my eyes, it was clear that they weren’t looking for comfort. They wanted the unmitigated truth.

They need, of necessity, to ask these hard questions. The 8-year war with Iran in which 200,000 died; the Gulf War, which took possibly another 300,000 besides wrecking the entire infrastructure; 12 years of U.S.-enforced U.N. sanctions, which have cost them an additional million lives-23 years of sustained economic and military conflict have simply made the Iraqi people immune to illusions, in the matter of war.

Let us, like the Iraqis, have no illusions.

I was in the states at the end of September when the House of Representatives handed the president a gun. I was in Baghdad when the Senate loaded it for him. History repeats itself, as the power to make war is now invested in the person of one, fallible man. Was not the American Revolution fought to prevent a king from making war at his subjects’ expense?

As the “Old Europe” of Germany and France makes waffling attempts to assert their independence from Washington realpolitik, Eastern European nations are lining up to take their places at the table. Washington will not lack for lackeys, because power makes money makes power makes money, and this is the first lesson of politics. Have no illusions; other nations will not come to our moral rescue. It may seem ridiculously obvious to you that if the inspectors remained in Iraq for the next 75 years it would still be just plain cheaper than any other solution.

You may be angry at how deeply your civil rights are being slashed at, and recreated in the image of a neo-conservative New World Order.

Or you grasp all too well that it is U.S. arms sales around the world that make inevitable the endless cycle of big and little wars to come, for the next hundred years.

Maybe it’s equally clear to you that any future U.S. treaty is a thing of convenience, to be abrogated when its purpose has been served… That the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto Accords, bans on nuclear and conventional weapon testing, research into alternative energy sources, all of these are only impediments to “preserving the American way of life”…

That the War on Terrorism is simply a convenient place to focus American fears now that Communism is dead, and the Pentagon needs a new justification for its ever-expanding budget…

That this war on terrorism, the war in Afghanistan to secure right of way for the natural gas reserves of central Asia, the war for the oil of Iraq, the not-so-coincidental turmoil in Venezuela…these are only the opening gambits in the U.S. bid to secure the fossil fuel resources of the entire planet, in order that we may dictate terms to the rest of the industrialized world.

Ask the shoeshine boys, the art dealers, the doctors, the cafe operators, the hotel staff, ask anyone in Iraq why the United States is coming there. They have no illusions. “It’s the oil, we know,” they say, shrugging their shoulders as though this is a commonplace, known to every child.

In ancient Assyria, war was not dressed up in Patriotism or the tattered gown of Democracy or a distorted Moral Righteousness fabricated from the loving words of long dead Holy Men. War was an undisguised grab for the wealth of another state, the losers impaled or sold into slavery. And you had to face your “enemy”.

Will the government of Pakistan, a nation that possesses nuclear weapons, be destabilized? Will the Israelis use the occasion to push the Palestinians into Jordan? Will Turkey finally move on Iraqi Kurdistan? Will the Shia’a majority of southern Iraq link up with Iran or simply demolish itself in endless revolt against the American invaders? How many more Saudi terrorists will be inspired to action? How long before the New Hiroshima, and what unfortunate land will suffer it?

Hundreds of thousands would die in such a war, but that is academic, an historical footnote, statistics. Lives mean nothing to this administration, yours, mine, or the Iraqis’. Have no illusions.

Dare we note that, should the Iraqis put up a stiff resistance, the American military machine will merely back up, and then, oh my fellow citizens, then we will see a demonstration of Weapons of Mass Destruction such as the world has not previously witnessed.

Debate or forget all of the above, but be assured of one thing: the present crisis is over nothing less than the American Soul.

So why, in a world pitching giantly out of control, would you bother to raise your tiny voice, against a din of violence, waste, fear, greed, and “gut feelings”, that seeks to drown out any rational consideration of events? We raise our voices because we are Americans…unlike the Iraqis, we can still raise them. We raise our voices because we have children…and parents…and loved ones…and cherished ideals that we’d like to hang onto, and we realize that everywhere an American bomb falls, an Osama bin Laden seed is sown.

We raise our voices because the right of assembly has not yet been taken from us. We raise our voices because our government’s arrogant denial that all the peoples of this planet are beautiful and necessary parts of creation, this arrogance is now attributed to the American people as well, and soon it will be unsafe for us to travel outside of our borders.

We raise our voices because the incontrovertible result of war is more war.

We raise our voices because we have galloping inequities in our schools, in Corporate America, in our inner cities, and the 100 or 200 or 900 billion dollars we would squander on further brutalizing our brothers and sisters in Iraq would be better spent otherwise than in financing the theft of that nation’s natural resources, to fill the pockets of the conglomerate that is running this country.

* * *

Writing in the early Baghdad evening, I often watched the sun setting over the Tigris River. There, in the Cradle of Civilization, one was, perhaps, more keenly reminded of the flickering and snuffing out of civilizations, and by a small leap, to grasp the historical illogic of war as a problem solving device.

We raise our voices because we must. Because our hearts tell us that the clock is ticking, not quite as loudly as it’s ticking for the Iraqis, but time is running out on the American Dream. Have no illusions: An attack against Iraq will be one of the cataclysmic events in American history, on a par with The Civil War and the Great Depression. Would it not signal to the world that democratic principals and Jeffersonian humanism have no more significance in the American ethos than they did in Nazi Germany? And to send that message is to invite a return to international barbarism, but on a scale we must shudder to contemplate.

We raise our voices because there’s a drunk at the wheel. Approaching the wall, the catastrophe ever more imminent, we begin to see, with growing and terrible clarity, who and what drives the American State. There is precious little time left in which to grab the keys and avert this self-inflicted disaster.

We raise our voices in the certainty that even should the dreaded Battle of Iraq come, it need not, must not, will not stun us into silence.

And the clock is still ticking…

JOE QUANDT is a 52-year old actor/cab driver/activist/teacher/poet living in the Albany, NY area. He traveled to Baghdad on the 49th Voices in the Wilderness delegation, during the month of October, 2002. He can be reached at: Ytonthemoon@aol.com

 

More articles by:
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail