What Are They Dying For?

I was a soldier for 36 years. And when soldiers of NATO (including the US) and Commonwealth countries are killed, nowadays, I feel that “there but for the Grace of God go I” because during my military service I was preparing to fight (or was actually fighting) against people who were enemies of my country.

But when I examine the wars going on at the moment I wonder whether NATO and Commonwealth soldiers (and others, too) who are suffering so many casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan should feel morally comfortable with fighting against the people who are resisting their presence and attacking them. What are they fighting for?

In September, 74 US soldiers were killed in Iraq. In the first 19 days of October, 70 US troops died. Of the 370 US soldiers wounded in September, 295 are seriously incapacitated. In Afghanistan the picture is equally grim. Day by day the number of dead soldiers increases–British, American, Canadian and French, mainly. And of course there are hundreds of Afghan and Iraqi soldiers and police who have been killed, in addition to countless thousands of civilians in both countries whose deaths matter not one jot to the Washington warfighters.

Why have they died?

Why are so many people being killed? What vital Cause have these soldiers died for? What message do their gravestones have for us? And why have hundreds of thousands of civilians been killed in countries since they were invaded by foreigners in order, we are told by the Bush people, to “bring democracy” to them. What’s going on in Washington?

Forget the sexual peccadilloes of a hypocritical little Congressman and the lies of Republican leaders who protected him until the game was up and their contemptible conduct was exposed. These people are but tiny morsels of stinking dross in the stove of history. They are slimy maggots who are as worthless as they are self-important, and their posturing and pompousness deserve nothing but scorn. They have forgotten they have a higher duty to the American people than simply being re-elected, which, to the whole lot of them (and to all politicians, everywhere in the world) is the most important thing in their squalid little lives. There isn’t a politician alive (or dead , or yet to come) who wouldn’t sacrifice his or her dearest principle if they realized that by sticking to it they would fail to be elected.

Members of both Houses in Washington forget or ignore the fact that they are just as responsible as Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and Rice for the deaths of American (and other) soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. These legislators are just as guilty as the White House barbarians, too, for the deaths of all the women and children who have been killed by berserk militias that didn’t exist in Iraq until after the US invaded. And they are equally responsible for the deaths of all the ordinary citizens who have died in screaming agony after being subjected to “precision” bombing by US aircraft or the midnight guns, grenades and fists of door-smashing soldiery.


On October 17, Cheney, on a brief trip to Planet Earth, announced that “If you look at the general overall situation, they [the Iraqi government] are doing remarkably well”, which is absolute nonsense, as over 100 people had been slaughtered in Baghdad the previous day.

And here’s Bush on October 11 : “We’re on the move. We’re taking action. We’re helping this young democracy succeed . . . Our troops have increased their presence on the streets of Baghdad. Together with Iraqi forces, they’re working to ensure that terrorists and death squads cannot intimidate the local population and operate murder rings . . .” Is the man insane? Can this really be the President of the United States of America speaking? Bush must know that since the his forces’ attempts to control Baghdad began in August there has been an amazing and terrible increase in deaths in the city, and that over 400 Iraqi civilians have died horribly since he made his absurd pronouncement.

Why did they die? And what are his soldiers are dying for?

Bush must know that in September there were at least (according to verifiable morgue figures) 2,660 civilians killed in Baghdad ; 400 more than in the previous month. They were killed by “death squads” and “murder rings”, but the armed forces of the occupying power, the United States of America, were unable to do anything to bring to an end or even reduce the slaughter of thousands of Iraqis whose only crime was to belong to a different faction to the people who killed them.

In response to a question about a report that over 300,000 Iraqis had been killed since he went to war on Iraq Bush could only stumblebum that “I do — I do know that a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me. And it grieves me. And I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence. I am, you know, amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they’re willing to — you know, that there’s a level of violence that they tolerate.”

George W Bush has the temerity, the grotesque insolence, to state that Iraqis are actually willing to “tolerate” , to accept willingly, the hideous violence that has been caused by his invasion and occupation of a country that presented no threat whatever to the United States.

And after his disastrous war developed into the bloody quagmire that is killing scores of American soldiers every week, Bush had the impudence to declare that ” . . . it’s now time for the Iraqi government to work hard to bring security in neighborhoods so people can feel — can feel, you know, at peace.”

When did you last hear such rubbish from a president? Cheney and Bush have brought war, devastation and death to Iraq. It is entirely the fault of the Washington warfighters that hundreds of thousands of people have died since their invasion only a few years ago. The “Iraqi government” is a sham. It governs the green lawns outside its premises in the US-owned Green Area which is full of swimming pools, electricity generators and coffee bars. It is ridiculous for Bush to demand that the “Iraqi government” should “bring security” to anywhere in the country. 140,000 US troops can’t do it. How can a raggle-taggle Iraqi army possibly do any better?

On October 17 McClatchy News reported that “U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad [. . .] also sounded that alarm, saying the government must tackle such broad issues as de-Baathification, needed changes to the constitution, distribution of oil and strengthening the security forces. But when pressed on how he expects the government to respond, he couldn’t offer an answer.”

Of course he couldn’t offer an answer. The man is out of his depth and incompetent. And the day after he made his idiot pronouncement the bombs and bullets of the Iraqi resistance killed ten American soldiers. Why?

What did these soldiers die for?

Bush said on October 11 that “We can’t tolerate a new terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East with large oil reserves that could be used to fund its radical ambitions or used to inflict economic damage on the West”.

Have 2,800 American soldiers (and thousands of Iraqis) been killed for the sake of LARGE OIL RESERVES? How many more will have to die in the Cheney-Bush war for oil? When you look at the casualty lists on such sites as http://icasualties.org/oif/ you can’t help being emotional after reading descriptions of how young soldiers met their unnecessary deaths. And we all know that these lists will become longer for so long as the War Party is supreme in Washington.

It is probable that American soldiers are dying at least in part for the sake of US oil companies, but the main reason for their slaughter is that Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld do not want to change course because that would entail admitting they are wrong. For so long as they wield power in Washington there will be chaos and death in Iraq. US soldiers, and others, are dying because of mighty egos in Washington.

It’s as simple as that.

BRIAN CLOUGHLEY writes on military and political affairs. He can be reached through his website www.briancloughley.com




Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.