A peace symbol hangs from a chain around my neck. Soon after I bought the necklace, I decided I wouldn’t take it off until the war ended. On Tuesday afternoon, I sat in a physician’s examining room. The doctor mentioned my peace symbol and said that people who oppose the war fail to acknowledge the successes in Iraq-that northern Iraq is a thriving area of commercial achievement. “Ah, the Kurds,” I said just before he plunged a tongue depressor down my throat. I was hoping to present my position-that I’m not a critic of the G. W. Bush war strategy or lack thereof–you know, one who championed the invasion but believes the war has been mismanaged with insufficient troops to accomplish the job.
I wanted him to know that from the beginning, with the rumblings about weapons of mass destruction and the Bush lies to link Iraq to 9/11, I spoke against an incursion I knew would become an occupation. The truth is that I don’t perceive war as successes and failures. War is tragedy-the ultimate human error and an inability to empathize. Each time I tried to opine, the doc stuck his fingers in my mouth.
Later, at home, I turned on the news to hear that northern Iraq had been hit by a series of almost simultaneous suicide bombings, leaving more than 250 people dead and at least 300 injured. As I write, the number of dead has climbed and could be as high as 500.
Often, I lie awake, wondering about the people who support George Bush and his reign of terror against the Iraqi and Afghan populations. I ask myself if these Bushies are aware of the landscape of destruction. Do they think about Iraqi and Afghan children? Do they look at their own children and imagine what it would be like to be a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan? Do they ever for even a second allow themselves to consider what our sophisticated bombs, depleted uranium, and white phosphorous are doing? Have they convinced themselves that our weaponry targets only those who are poised to kill coalition forces? Are they at all troubled about what our country is doing-committing acts of atrocity against other human beings who did nothing to antagonize us? NOTHING.
Members of the Bush Fan Club don’t just include the Armageddonites who rhapsodize about “The Rapture” and who believe that George Pied Piper Bush was anointed by God to lead in the clash of civilizations. Fellow Bush junkies are those who buy the absurd “if we leave Iraq, the terrorists will follow us home” rather than the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate that the occupation of Iraq has inspired terrorism and that the longer we stay, the less secure we will be.
Meanwhile, we have lost over 3,700 U.S. troops in a catastrophe that George Bush was determined to start and is stubbornly refusing to end despite the advice of experts and, finally, the disapproval of the American public. Iraqis are suffering unfathomable loss. Suicide bombings are not becoming less frequent. Rather, they are becoming more advanced. Those who strap on explosives or fill their vehicles with ammo to kill and maim as many people as possible share certain defining commonalities: they are destructive of themselves and others; they ignore reason; and they are not guided by the normal mores of society.
It is not a leap to say that George Bush fits comfortably into these parameters, with one exception–Bush’s self destruction will come not from an actual detonation that shatters his body but through the judgment of his presidency as the worst in the history of this country.
Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com