The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Sending grandfathers to die in Iraq

Aug 2, 2004

Almost as many U.S. soldiers age 50 and over have died in Iraq as died in the entire Korean War – and the Iraq war isn't nearly over. Soldiers old enough to be grandfathers die in Iraq at 10 times the rate as their age group died all during Viet Nam.

Of the 275,000 GIs in or readying for Iraq and Afghanistan, about 5,570 are age 50-plus. Nearly all are Guard and Reserve, "weekend warriors."

Lies, politicians' lies, send all these soldiers into harm's way. It's not only the past lies about weapons of mass destruction and about Saddam Hussein's connections to Al Qaeda. It's the lie being laid down right now by Democrats and Republicans alike: that the war will wind down sometime soon; that the war is going to go away – and the voters don't need to worry.

By sending in even the oldest National Guard and Reserve troops, the politicians are scraping the bottom of one barrel – ready manpower – in order to avoid pulling the lid off another barrel: to avoid letting the public see the real scale, the real costs, and the real plans for continuing major warfare in Iraq. To cover up the real news, at least until November 3 – the day after the election.

The occupation is not going well. Big areas of Iraq are out of control. U.S. troops are reduced to staying in bases – and even the bases come under fire. The population of Iraq is set on removing the U.S. from their country. In order to impose U.S. domination over Iraq's oil, whoever is elected will send in many more troops – an overwhelming occupation force.

But as Bush and Kerry both understand, the population of the U.S. – which has to supply the troops, and the money – is not very happy about this war. If continuing the war re-emerges as a big public issue during the presidential campaign, both candidates will have their problems.

So Kerry says he will "bring the troops home" – even while promising to increase overall troop strength by 30,000. One statement is to fool voters; the other is to reassure the ruling class he will continue the war. If Kerry intended to bring the troops home, he wouldn't need extra troops waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, Bush says he opposes increasing troop strength – even while he is doing it.

As shown by the recent 96-0 unanimous – and very quiet – Senate vote to pass the Bush administration's new funding request for the Pentagon, both the Democratic and the Republican parties agree on one thing: they intend for the war to go on and they agree to be secretive about it.