Sunday, February 6, 2005

Tell Them, 'Because our Fathers Lied'

Tell Them, 'Because our Fathers Lied'

I thought this was astounding. I am going to try and write some original entries soon, I just haven't had time with school and everything thats involved with that, so in the meantime check this article out.....
Published on Thursday, January 27, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Tell Them, 'Because our Fathers Lied'
by Gilbert Jordan
"The master class has always declared the wars;
the subject class has always fought the battles...."
- Eugene Debs
Almost two years after our invasion of Iraq - an occasion that was to be 'a piece of cake,' one that would be celebrated by Iraqis strewing flowers before our troops - it is well past the point when we should recognize that the Iraq War has become the Vietnam of the 21st Century. As in Vietnam, The Mexican War, the Spanish American War, the pretext for going to war was manufactured by misrepresenting facts and whipping up public fury, usually a simple task when that well known toxin - patriotism - is in the air.
Many years ago Rudyard Kipling wrote in his Epitaphs of the War:

'If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.'
At the same time, one of England's most promising poets of WWI, Wilfred Owen, wrote a famous anti-war poem. After presenting a series of ghastly images relating to the death of a soldier by mustard gas, Owen tells us that if we could witness such scenes, then

'My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for some desperate glory. The old lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro Patria Mori.'
For those of us without an Oxford education, the translation of the Latin is, "It is sweet and fitting that you should die for your country."
President Bush and his minions are not unique in riding to war on the back of lies. Presidents Polk, McKinley, and Johnson, among others, were equally guilty. In each case, these presidents embarked on wars that were based not on self-defense but naked aggression and a desire to expropriate what belonged rightfully to others. To mask such pillaging, it is always accompanied by an appeal to nationalism and soaring flights of rhetoric. With Iraq, President Bush kept inventing new rationales for the invasion, all of them evoking some noble purpose. And in his second inaugural speech just delivered, more of the same was dished up supposedly in the service of liberty and justice for all of the world's citizens. Of this tactic, columnist Molly Ivins would say, "It's like putting lipstick on a pig."
While the President can endlessly resort to Pollyanna summaries of the "catastrophic success" of our engagement in Iraq, the truth puts the lie to all of these fictions.
On our side, there have been 1,417 Americans killed in this debacle, with thousands more grievously wounded, many of those facing severely diminished lives from this time on. The cost of the war, according to the ticking meter on the internet, is $152 billion dollars, with another $80 billion requested for the immediate future. Since there is no end to the war in sight, there will be no end of the hemorrhaging treasure to support it. And all of this coincides with staggering budget and trade deficits, a disappearing middle class as jobs are exported to other countries, growing poverty, and a flow of world investment to the Euro as more and more creditors lose confidence in the American dollar. Add to that the insidious erosion of liberties under the Patriot Act. But most distressing is our apparent willingness at the highest levels of government to condone torture as a means of gaining intelligence. With such a departure from international norms, it is not difficult to see that in fighting our "barbaric" enemies, we become more like them with every passing week.
On the other side - yes, there is another side, although from coverage in American media, you would scarcely realize it - it is estimated that 100,000 Iraqis have been killed and far more than that made homeless, jobless, and futureless. Two years after 'Mission Accomplished' the country has descended into unspeakable chaos. In Baghdad, electricity is available only part of the day, clean water is scarce, sewage floods the streets. Fallujah has been reduced to rubble, turning about 100,000 civilians into refugees. The coming election will be meaningless, since violence has forced candidates to remain anonymous, and the act of voting itself is the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette. An assured electoral victory by the Shiite majority is an invitation to civil war, which will make the current misery in that hapless country seem pale by comparison. All the happy talk by the Bush administration does not change these facts. The Washington wrecking crew has created its own tsunami and all of us (Americans and Iraqis) are paying the price of their imperial ambitions.
In Dwight Eisenhower's final speech to the nation in 1953, he warned us of the power of the military-industrial complex:

'Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children....This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross.'
We, with our deluded belief that God is on our side and that our new manifest destiny is to control the world and all its assets, must reassess our priorities. Is this ill-fated adventure in Iraq (with hints of Iran to follow) worth the agony it is causing? Do we really want to bankrupt the nation and sacrifice our youth by pouring our resources into wars of folly? Do we really want to leave the rest of the world shaking their heads as they see this country diminishing itself by paying lip service to its Constitution and Bill of Rights but, at the same time, violating the very essence of those documents? It is time for us to awake from a long sleep, take a serious look at the world and this country's place in it, and recognize that we have been manipulated by an unscrupulous band of miscreants who have been following their own agenda. And that agenda has nothing to do with democracy and liberty, at least for all of us living below the tiny sliver of privileged and tax-free aristocrats occupying the top of society's pyramid.
A good place to start our examination is to recognize that Kipling and Owen pulled back the curtain from myths and lies that promote wars. In a real democracy, we should demand transparent government and accountability. Until we do, we are in danger of sacrificing our 225 year old experiment in self-rule. There is a very thin line between democracy and despotism and at the moment we are standing on the razor's edge.
Gilbert Jordan is a retired English Professor from Monroe Community college, Rochester, NY and has been active in the anti-war movement. He resides in in Wyoming, NY. Gilbert can be reached at gfjordan@frontiernet.net.