A Poet Against the War

Clifton Snider

Today, 15 December 2011, marks the official end of the United States' war in Iraq, begun by the still-unindicted ex-president, George W. Bush.  President Obama has kept his promise to end the war, and hence I am suspending my updates on it.  I leave this page on my site as an historical record of a horror that should never have happened.

UPDATE: President Obama announced today, 21 October 2011, that U.S. troops will be pulled out of Iraq by the end of the year.  At last he is delivering on his promise to end the war in Iraq.  Now we must also get out of Afghanistan.  Too many lives have been lost and too many people have been maimed physically and psychologically in both wars.  We seem to have learned nothing from the lessons of history regarding failed invasions of Afghanistan.  The billions of dollars we are spending would be better spent to help our people get jobs and housing and to implement the new health care program.

UPDATE: President Obama has announced a plan to remove most of our troops within 18 months, not the 16 months he aimed for in the campaign.  This is progress, but it is not good enough.  As of the 1st of July 2009, U.S. troops have been removed from Iraq's cities.  Again, this is progress but hardly enough. Additionally, he is dangerously close to turning the war in Afghanistan into another Vietnam by escalating the number of troops.  I am profoundly opposed to such escalation of troops in Afghanistan, and I do not agree with Mr. Obama that the war in Afghanistan serves our national security or interests.

Meanwhile, the slaughter of LGBT people in Iraq continues after a fatwa was declared by the leading Shia religious leader,
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.  According to the British Guardian, Sistani "urg[ed] the killing of LGBT people in the 'worst, most severe way' possible."  And his orders are being carried out.  LGBT people have been "shot dead in their homes, streets and workplaces. Even suspected gay children are being murdered." A network that Guardian reporter, Peter Tatchell, compares to the Underground Railroad which helped slaves to freedom in America has been created to help LGBT people in Iraq.  See "Iraq's Queer Underground Railroad" and the Iraqi LGBT Blogspot to keep up-to-date on this vital topic.

Here are four more pertinent articles: "Iraq's Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder," from The New York Times (7 April 2009), "Killing of Gay Iraqis Shouldn't Be Ignored," from The Denver Post (12 April 2009), "Iraqi 'Executioner' Defends Killing of Gay Men," from The National (2 May 2009), and "Iraq's Gays Face Rising Persecution," from the Los Angeles Times (18 August 2009).

If you are on Facebook, I urge you to join the group, SOS: Support Iraqi LGBT.

On Easter Sunday, 23 March 2008, the number of American military personnel who have died in Iraq reached 4,000.  Every person, civilian or military, who has died because of Bush's war is precious.  The number simply reinforces the message of how wrong the war is.  It must end now.

By electing Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress in 2006, American voters sent an unmistakable message that they want change in Iraq, that they are fed up with the direction the current administration has taken in this war.  Despite this
, and after five years of this heinous war, President Bush appears not to have understood the message of the 2006 elections.  His escalation of the war is a slap in the face to the troops there, who face increased risk of casualties; the Iraqi people, who desperately need to be self-reliant; and the voters of this country.  The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports that "The Bush administration is quietly on track to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq . . ." (Stewart M. Powell, "Second Troop Increase Is Silent" 22 May 2007: A9). Instead of increasing combat troops, we must withdraw as soon as possible.  Mr. Bush has learned nothing from history, particularly the Vietnam War.

As he makes another "surprise" visit to Iraq (am I the only one who finds this president cowardly compared to the men and women he sends to risk life and limb?), the Los Angeles Times reports in an article by Tina Susman, that "Turmoil Prevails in Iraq" (4 September 2007: A1).  Susman writes: "The U.S. military buildup that was supposed to calm Baghdad and other trouble spots has failed to usher in national reconciliation, as the capital's neighborhoods rupture even further along sectarian lines, violence shifts elsewhere and Iraq's government remains mired in political infighting."

The day after Bush announced his plans to escalate the war, thousands of people across the country assembled in peace rallies to protest the war and this latest so-called surge.  I was one of the many people who participated in the demonstration in Long Beach, California, at 7th and Bellflower Blvd., where we gathered at all four corners of the busy intersection as innumerable passing motorists honked their horns in support.

Peace Rally, Long Beach, 11 Jan. 2007
Peace Rally, Long Beach, CA, 11 January 2007

Much has been made in the news of the fact the rate of deaths slowed in Iraq in the last months of 2007.  No discernible political progress has been made, and even one person dying or becoming maimed physically or mentally, perhaps for life, because of Bush's war is too many.  I, for one, am not impressed by the surge and Bush's policy of "staying the course."  The man is a war criminal, as far as I am concerned, and ought to be impeached, removed from office, and tried in a court of law for crimes against humanity.  The same goes for his vice president.

Honor Guard for Sgt. David J. Hart, Los Angeles Times

This picture from the Los Angeles Times, 16 January 2008, honors Sgt. David J. Hart of Lake View Terrace, CA, and I would like it to honor all the others killed in George W. Bush's war and those who will be killed.  As the Times says in an editorial on 17 January 2008, "Such images are rare, partly because of a media tendency to see the commonplace as unworthy of coverage and partly because of a calculated effort by the Bush administration to prevent the American people from seeing them."  The editorial goes on to say, this "photograph was possible because Hart's body was flown into Long Beach Airport rather than a military facility, where media photographers are forbidden from chronicling the ongoing human cost of the Iraq war."  The ban on such pictures began with the first President Bush in 1991.

A primary reason I oppose the war in Iraq is my deep concern for our men and women in the military, who are dying in an unjust and illegal war.  For their sake and for the sake of the Iraqi people and all others affected by the carnage, I pray the war ends quickly. 
On the 11th of October 2006 the Los Angeles Times reported that a "team of researchers," whose "lead author" is Gilbert Burnham of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University," says that 601,027 Iraqis have suffered violent deaths since the March 2003 invasion" (Julian E. Barnes, "Study Puts War's Iraqi Death Tally at More Than 600,000": A-12).  Now ORB, a "British polling agency that has conducted several surveys in Iraq," places the number of Iraqis killed as over 1.2 million (Tina Susman, "Civilian Deaths May Top 1 Million, Poll Data Indicate," Los Angeles Times, 14 September 2007: A6).  As reported in the Los Angeles Times on the 10th of January 2008 ("U.N. Survey Puts 3-year Iraqi Toll at 151,000": A8), a World Health Organization study says that about 151, 000  civilians in Iraq were killed in the first three years of the war; the actual number of deaths during the period ranges from 104,000 to 223,000.  Even the Iraqi Health Minister, Saleh Hasnawi, says the study is "very sound," according to the Times.

Furthermore, our troops are suffering in other ways.  The Los Angeles Times reports, "The latest and most comprehensive study of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has concluded that nearly 1 in every 5 veterans is suffering from depression or stress disorders and that many are not getting adequate care. . . . An estimated 300,000 veterans among the nearly 1.7 million who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are battling depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.  More than half of these people, according to the study conducted by the Rand Corp., are slipping through the cracks in the bureaucratic system, going without necessary treatment" (Julian E. Barnes, "Veterans Struggle with War Trauma," 18 April 2008: A16).  Needless to say, this is a shameful state of affairs.

According to  icasualties.org, as of 7 November 2008, 4,506 coalition troops had died in the Iraq war.  Of these, 4,192 were American troops.  Also, there have been at least 30,634 American troops wounded in action.   A CNN site also gives updated death and other casualty numbers and the names of the troops who have died, pictures when available, and other personal details.  Surely even those who have supported the war would agree that too many have been brain damaged or lost their sight, their arms, their legs and/or been otherwise wounded psychically and physically.  By any measurement, far too many have died and the killing and maiming must stop.

Terrorism in Iraq, and the world, has increased.  As reported in the Los Angeles Times, a U.S. government intelligence report, issued in April 2006 but not released by the administration, says that "the war in Iraq has made global terrorism worse by fanning Islamic radicalism and providing a training ground for lethal methods that are increasingly being exported to other countries" ("Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Fuels Terror," by Greg Miller, 24 September 2006: A1+).  More recently, the Times reports, "the U.S. intelligence community's first comprehensive examination of the domestic terrorism threat in 20 years" reports that Al Qaeda . . . has 'regenerated key elements' of its ability to attack targets in America and is intensifying its efforts to put operatives inside the country" ("U.S. Agencies Concur on Terror Threat," Greg Miller and Josh Meyer, 18 July 2007: A1).

I quite agree with the 11 September 2007 editorial called "What we've lost" in the Los Angeles Times that says, while "we have avoided another [terrorist] attack on American soil . . . the decision to invade Iraq has proved, in our view, a distraction from the struggle against radical Islamist terrorism, and it has cost us dearly.  More than 3,700 American soldiers have lost their lives on foreign sands.  Another 27,000 have returned home with injuries, many of them life-altering.  Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or wounded and about 4 million forced to flee, half of them to uncertain foreign refuge.  Their scars will mar the future as anger over the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and its injustices at Guantanamo Bay breeds new enemies" (A18).  See below for more specific figures about the dead and maimed.

The time has come for Congress to consider the question of whether a man who is responsible for "one of the worst presidential decisions in American history" (see Bob Herbert, below), one that is needlessly and immorally costing thousands of lives (American, Iraqi, and others), not to mention trampled on the Constitutional rights of all Americans, ought to be impeached.  See the petition for impeachment by the Veterans for Peace.  I agree with Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter that Mr. Bush, as well as Mr. Tony Blair, is a war criminal.  The same is true for Vice President Cheney.

Anyone who keeps up with the news now knows Mr. Bush has broken the law by spying domestically without court approval.  Even though the law allows the president to do so
under extraordinary circumstances to protect national security for 72 hours before gaining approval from a special court (see "Legality of Wiretaps Remains in Question," Los Angeles Times, 18 December 2005: A1, and Senator Russ Feingold on The News Hour, PBS, 19 December 2005), Bush has not sought such approval, and he says he doesn't intend to seek it.  If this is not an impeachable offense, I do not know what is.  Bush's outrageous arrogance is so blatant even members of his own party have questioned Bush's actions on this question and are calling for an investigation ("Lawmakers Urge Review of U.S. Spy Program," Los Angeles Times, 19 December 2005: A11).  No doubt because the Democrats now control Congress, the Bush Administration has pulled back from this illegal practice.  Nevertheless, though it may not be the most convenient political move, now is the time for the House of Representatives to begin impeachment hearings to remove this man from office.  See the Impeach Bush site, and read an article, "The Impeachment of George W. Bush," by Elizabeth Holtzman, a former U.S. Representative and member of the House Judiciary Committee when it considered the impeachment of then-President Richard Nixon.

Wholeheartedly I agree with former Vice President Al Gore, who says in his new book, The Assault on Reason: "
With the blatant failure by the government to respect the rule of law, we face a great challenge in restoring America's moral authority in the world.  Our moral authority is our greatest source of strength.  It is our moral authority that has been recklessly put at risk by the cheap calculations of this willful president [i.e. George W. Bush]" (quoted in The Guardian, 24 May 2007).

I am proud to be one of over 13,000 Poets Against the War, the story of which and the poets and their contributions against the Bush war with Iraq can be accessed by clicking on the above link.  As a teacher of literature and writing, I try to promote a spirit of tolerance and open-mindedness in the context of moral and spiritual values.  Were I not to express my anguish at the mass destruction and human loss orchestrated by the Washington administration's single-minded madness in regard to Iraq, a country that posed no danger to the United States and had no connection with the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, I would be violating my own purpose as a teacher and a poet.  Here is my first poem featured on the Poets Against the War site.  

You Tell Me

I wanted to go to Baghdad
to see the Tigris,
to see elements
of Western Civilization,
to see, if not handle,
descendants of the desert
with eyes as deep as blood,
with skin like river rocks,
children of our forebears,
                 But some of them
voted for the one name on the ballot,
a man who executed cabinet ministers,
who sent young men
to die fighting a neighbor
--two neighbors--
who failed to be conquered
by the father of our
illegitimate leader, he
of the sodden eyes, who
worships blood and oil.

If I get to Baghdad,
what and who will be there
to see, to understand?

* * *

Here is another poem that expresses my outrage at the actions of a man who, in 2000, was not elected president under the specific directions given in the Constitution of the United States.  The five justices who put Bush into office are as culpable as he is for his immoral actions on a multitude of issues, but especially on war.  They are "activist" justices, to use Bush's own parlance.  Even had Bush been elected legally, I would oppose his imperialistic warmongering.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

The woman with a scarf
at the food stand
asked for an ounce of flour:
she had three children
and a little water.

The American leader
squinted, eyes like oil pools.
He shot her point blank
in the temple.

His secretary of state
lopped off the arms & legs
of a soldier, pressed into service
by the sword of antiquity.

The minister of defense
ordered smart bombs to explode
the brains of a man in turban
old enough to remember
the American president
who provided his people arms
to fight their neighbor.

See my poem, "St. Anthony's Church," published in a GLBT issue of the Chiron Review.  It is also in my book of poems, Aspens in the Wind.

One not well publicized dimension of the U.S. occupation of Iraq is the fact that over 250 academics have been murdered and many others have disappeared.  According to the Brussels Tribunal Advisory Committee, "The wave of assassinations appears non-partisan and non-sectarian, targeting women as well as men, and is countrywide . . . This situation is a mirror of the occupation as a whole: a catastrophe of staggering proportions unfolding in a climate of criminal disregard.  As an occupying power, and under international humanitarian law, final responsibility for protecting Iraqi citizens, including academics, lies with the United States."  Read more about this horrendous situation and consider signing a petition to help prevent further atrocities: Iraqi Academics.

In the 29 August 2005 edition of Time magazine, Joe Klein, who at that time supported continuing the war in Iraq, wrote that George W. Bush's "inability to acknowledge these terrible [U.S. military] losses [by going to funerals and allowing pictures and videos of returning military caskets] leaves an aching void in the rest of us.  It isolates the general public from the suffering that is a dominant reality of life in military communities. 

"And that is why Cindy Sheehan [whose son was killed in Iraq and who maintained a vigil in Crawford, Texas, where Bush was on vacation but refused to see her] has struck a chord, despite her naive politics and the ideology of some of her supporters.  She represents all the tears not shed when the coffins came home without public notice.  She is pain manifest.  It is only with a public acknowledgment of the unutterable agony this war has caused that we can begin a serious and long overdue conversation about Iraq . . . ."

On the 17th of August 2005, well over 100,000 people gathered in candlelight peace vigils across the nation in support of Cindy Sheehan and others who have lost loved ones in Iraq.  I was in Taos, NM, at the time and I attended one of those vigils on the Taos plaza.

Peace Vigil, Taos, NM, 17 August 2005
Peace Vigil, Taos, NM, 17 August 2005

Klein has since written that "never was Bush's adolescent petulance more obvious than in his decision to ignore the Baker-Hamilton report [on the war] and move in the exact opposite direction: adding troops and employing counter-insurgency tactics inappropriate to the situation on the ground."  Klein concludes by saying, "the three defining sins of the Bush Administration--arrogance, incompetence, cynicism--are congenital: they're part of his [Bush's] personality.  They're not likely to change.  And it is increasingly difficult to imagine yet another two years of slow bleed with a leader so clearly unfit to lead" (Time 16 April 2007: 25).  Needless to say, I agree with Klein.  We are being "led" by an untreated alcoholic whose unfettered self will has caused death and grief for countless innocent people and whose policies, not only on the war but also on such issues as global warming and human rights, have placed the United States in a position for which Americans and people around the world will suffer for untold years to come.

As if fighting, becoming maimed, and dying in such a war aren't enough, gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals in military service also suffer the discrimination of the military's sinister "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.  See Patricia Ward Biederman's "For Gays, Secrecy in Love, War," Los Angeles Times, 17 April 2003: A1+.  The list of outrageous conduct against gay people because of the homophobic atmosphere this policy creates includes rape and murder (C. Dixon Osburn, "Colleges Cave to Pentagon Threat," The Gay and Lesbian Review/Worldwide, March-April 2003: 28-29).  What kind of freedom is our military supposed to be defending when such vile discrimination occurs within its own ranks?  The New York Times reports that a Congressional study has found the "military has spent more than $200 million to recruit and train personnel to replace troops discharged in the last decade for being openly gay" (John Files, "Rules on Gays Exact a Cost in Recruiting, a Study Finds," New York Times 24 February 2005, www.nytimes.com).  Jeff Key, a marine who served in Iraq and was discharged for being openly gay, says, "I became a marine to protect the Constitution and to protect innocent people--and thousands and thousands of people are being slaughtered for an economic and political agenda" (quoted in Paul Clinton's "Tour of Duty," The Advocate 18 January 2005: 41).  Key says "he decided to use the ban on gays in the military to avoid being asked to take innocent lives for corporate gain."

Another soldier who is quitting because of anti-gay attacks is Pvt. Kyle Lawson.  Read his story in the Arizona Daily Star (18 December 2005).

In a new development on this issue, according to Advocate.com (News, 24-26 Sept. 2005), "Secretly and without consultation with the U.S. Congress, the U.S. military has suspended, in part, its ban on openly gay soldiers [who are deployed to Iraq], an official military spokesperson has said.  But after these soldiers have risked life and limb for their country, the military retains the right to kick them out when they get home."  This new policy is as unsurprising as it is cynical and completely unfair.

Meanwhile, countries such as Iran murder male teenagers for having sex with each other, yet our government remains silent.  How can we pretend to support freedom and democracy when our own policies, never mind our silence on such atrocities, undermine freedom for all our citizens.  As Patrick Moore writes in The Advocate, "
the U.S. government never cites homophobia as a dangerous aspect of Islamic extremism.  See Andrew Sullivan's blog for 12 June 2006.

"In fact, the U.S. government has done its part in the Middle East to reinforce the view that homosexuality is inherently wrong. When our military denies openly gay men and women the opportunity to serve their country, it implies that such people are incapable of carrying the cause of democracy to foreign lands" (see "Murder and Hypocrisy" and Sodomy Laws).

The same kind of murderous brutality has now become part of the Iraqi landscape.  As The Observer reports: "Hardline Islamic insurgent groups in Iraq are targeting a new type of victim with the full protection of Iraqi law, The Observer can reveal. The country is seeing a sudden escalation of brutal attacks on what are being called the 'immorals', homosexual men and children as young as 11 who have been forced into same-sex prostitution. There is growing evidence that Shia militias have been killing men suspected of being gay and children who have been sold to criminal gangs to be sexually abused. The threat has led to a rapid increase in the numbers of Iraqi homosexuals now seeking asylum in the UK because it has become impossible for them to live safely in their own country." (Jennifer Copestake, The Oberver/The Guardian (United Kingdom), 6 August 2006). 

And, as the Washington Blade reports, "
President Bush’s plan to deploy an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq will do little to stop the death squads that continue to hunt gays, according to exiled gay Iraqis and organizations monitoring the violence there" (Joshua Lynsen, "Troop 'surge' unlikely to help gay Iraqis").  The Blade reports that "Gay Iraqis living in exile have told gay rights groups that conditions are so bad that entire categories of men — including those who are unmarried or seen as effeminate — are suspected of being gay and subject to death threats." Yet, according to the Blade article, the American occupiers of Iraq have done little to help gay Iraqis.  For an update on this story, see Lennox Samuels's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Do Kill," Newsweek 26 August 2008.

See also Deb Price's "Iraq Struggles to Stop Persecution of Gays" (The Detroit News, 16 April 2007).  Price's article opens with these horrific examples:

Militias warn Iraqi families they will be murdered if they don't hand over or kill their gay relatives.

An Iraqi family pays ransom for the return of a gay man, only to learn later that his mutilated body has been found.

An Iraqi father is released without being tried for hanging his gay son to defend the family's "honor."

Secretive religious "courts" try, sentence and execute gays.

In Baghdad, a store owner and four barbers are kidnapped or vanish because of their sexual orientation.

She concludes with a comment no reasonable person could argue with: "In Iraq, all of the violence against innocent civilians is horrifying.  But if a stable, relatively peaceful Iraq is ever to emerge and join the ranks of civilized nations, it will have to be a place where government tries to safeguard the rights of all, including its most vulnerable citizens."  See also 365gay.com for 14 June 2007 and Molly Hennessy-Fiske's article, "Since Invasion, Gays in Iraq Lead Lives of Constant Fear, in the Los Angeles Times (5 August 2007: A6).

The Independent from the United Kingdom reports that Iraqi police have murdered a 14-year-old boy, Ahmed Khalil, for being gay.  According to this report (dated 5 May 2005), "The killing of Ahmed is one of a series of alleged homophobic murders. There is mounting evidence that fundamentalists have infiltrated government security forces to commit homophobic murders while wearing police uniforms."  Furthermore, "Grand Ayatollah Sistani recently issued a fatwa on his website calling for the execution of gays in the 'worst, most severe way'."  This is the country our government is supposed to have liberated?  Where are the voices of protest in our own government against these hideous crimes?  As reported in Iraqi LGBT, "Queer Iraqis are finding life is now worse than it was under Saddam."  For more on this serious issue, see David France's article in GQ, "Dying to Come Out: The War on Gays in Iraq" (February 2007: 126+).

The Painful Truth

After the fall of Baghdad, I wrote the following poem, also on the Poets Against the War web site.  I include the picture that in part inspired the poem.

        Victory in Iraq
           April 2003

Bush II sips his blood-red bubbly,
one bullet in the glass,
upstairs in the White House.
He nibbles pretzels of victory.

The horror he manipulated
exploits the TV screen.
Marines place the flag, lasso
a statue of Baghdad’s dictator.

Bush II must telephone Daddy.  First
he belches from a toothy Texas grin
under brine-black eyes,
a brainy mangle of manure.

Somewhere in Baghdad,
on a solitary bed, lies an
armless boy, newly orphaned,
his face asleep, innocent agony.

* * *

Armless Iraqi Boy 
--from Time 14 April 2003

There are a few articles from an almost overwhelmingly biased press that convey some sanity on the issue of war and American imperialism.  Here are five I recommend.  Two are from renowned foreign writers, Margaret Atwood (Canada) and Gunter Grass (Germany).

Atwood, Margaret.  "Letter to America."  The Nation, 14 April 2003: 22.
Caputo, Philip.  "The Smell of War."  Los Angeles Times, 30 March 2003: M6.
Grass, Gunter.  "The U.S. Betrays Its Core Values."  Los Angeles Times, 7 April 2003: B11.
Khouri, Rami G., "Another Casualty of War: American Moral Authority," Los Angeles Times, 9 October 2003: B17.
Quindlen, Anna. "The Sounds of Silence." Newsweek, 21 April 2003: 66.

I also recommend an instructive, useful, and inspiring essay by E. M. Forster, "What I Believe," written in 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II.  See, too, Dante Zappala's column, "It's Official: My Brother Died in Vain," written after the Bush administration officially stopped looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (Los Angeles Times, 14 January 2005: B11).

Now, over five years after the United States and Britain invaded Iraq, instead of decreasing terrorism in the world, the war has spurred more terrorism, including the attacks in Spain and Britain that claimed hundreds of lives, not to mention other attacks in many other countries around the world.  Today Iraq is open territory for terrorists in a way it never was under Saddam Hussein, as brutal as he was.  Furthermore, other countries, our allies included, have lost trust in a government that misrepresented the reasons for going to war with Iraq in the first place. 

I agree with the Los Angeles Times that the war has done "more harm than good" ("A War's Woeful Results," 20 March 2004: B22).  Additionally, Time magazine reports that "A rash of unpunished honor killings highlights the harrowing dangers females face in the new Iraq" ("Marked Women," 26 July 2004: 42).  Although such murders for sexual "crimes" by women by members of their own family occurred under Saddam Hussien, they have greatly increased since his fall from power, as have many of the freedoms women enjoyed under Saddam (this is because of the increased power of Islamic clerics, according to the article).  Also, the Los Angeles Times reports that since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, "Malnutrition among Iraq's youngest children [aged 6 months to 5 years] has nearly doubled" ("Child Malnutrition Doubles in Iraq," 23 November 2004: A4). 

Please see a short movie from the American Friends Service Committee.  Their Eyes Wide Open exhibition came to Long Beach, California, on the 15th of March, 2005, at the Main Library and at Lincoln Park:


The shoes represent a tiny fraction of the 1000s
of Iraqi civilians killed in the war.


These boots represent the U.S. troops
killed in Iraq.

Here is what Bob Herbert says about the inauguration of George W. Bush on 20 January 2005:

"Watching the inaugural ceremonies yesterday reminded me of the scenes near the end of 'The Godfather' in which a solemn occasion (a baptism in the movie) is interspersed with a series of spectacularly violent murders.

"Even as President Bush was taking the oath of office and delivering his Inaugural Address beneath the clear, cold skies of Washington, the news wires were churning out stories about the tragic mayhem in Iraq. There is no end in sight to the carnage, which was unleashed nearly two years ago by President Bush's decision to launch this wholly unnecessary war, one of the worst presidential decisions in American history."  ("Dancing the War Away," New York Times, 21 January 2005).

See also Jack Miles's "Only Death Will Win" (Los Angeles Times, 29 June 2005: B13).

Wall of Shame

Let the pictures and the captions speak for themselves, both here and at Crisis Pictures.  Then see Frontline's The Torture Question and read "Autopsies Support Abuse Allegations" (Los Angeles Times, 25 October 2005: A4) about the 21 prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan whose autopsies show they were murdered in U.S. custody.  If the buck stops at the president's desk, then the president is ultimately responsible for these murders.

As for the elections in Iraq, consider the following:

"United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 percent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam."

- Peter Grose, in a New York Times article titled, "U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote," 4 September 1967: 2.

I invite everyone, especially those of military age who say they support the war, to view the following video.  Obviously, I do not advocate that anyone join the military to fight in Iraq.  I do, however, advocate personal honesty.  Sadly, too many of our politicians, particularly the President and the Vice President, have made "integrity" a meaningless word so far as their words and behavior are concerned.

Generation Chickenhawk

See also:
"Why You Should Care" (from Saturday Night Magazine, February 2006)
Bring Them Home Now!
Iraqi Veterans Against the War
Cost of Iraq War
Iraqi LGBT

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
--Mahatma Gandhi

Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.
--Matthew 5: 9

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
--Zechariah 4: 6

It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence.
It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who Would Jesus Bomb?
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Apart from any quotations by others, the opinions expressed on this page are my own and do not necessarily represent those of anyone else at California State University, Long Beach.

Copyright © Clifton Snider, 2011.



Page last revised: 15 December 2011