Jun 26, 2006
With disasters growing by the day in Iraq and Afghanistan, Republicans in the House put forward a motion calling on Bush to pursue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of “the war against terrorism.” They accused the Democrats of wanting to “cut and run.”
The following week, Democrats in the Senate put forward motions calling on Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq – tomorrow, next December or, at any rate, sometime. They accused the Republicans of having “no plan” to end this war.
It was nothing but election-year posturing by both parties, each trying to throw the blame for these increasingly unpopular wars onto the shoulders of the other party.
And posturing it soon proved itself to be – since the real vote, when it came, showed the two parties lining up in the same camp, voting 98 to 1 in favor of extending and even increasing funding for the wars. (The one vote cast against was simply on procedural grounds.)
Ninety-eight to one. That says it all. Republicans and Democrats engage in a pissing contest in public, but work together behind closed doors to pursue this war.
While the Congress was electioneering over Iraq, the 2,511th U.S. soldier was being killed. More than 10,000 have already been so seriously injured that they will never completely recover. The Veterans Administration expects 20,000 cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among returning troops this year alone, with thepercentage affected expected eventually to reach 25% to 40% of all troops serving. PTSD is not some chic diagnosis offered to the wealthy resting on their psychiatrist’s couch – it’s the real damage done to human beings who have internalized the horrors they were forced to live through. And many never get past it. The streets of this country have been littered with the living victims of earlier wars, and they will be so again.
As bad as that is, what the U.S. military has done to the people of Iraq is infinitely worse. For every U.S. soldier who has been killed, maybe 40 to 50 Iraqi civilians have been killed. Their country has been laid waste. The public services required for people to live have been nearly eliminated. According to a June 6th report made by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, one neighborhood in central Baghdad had no electric service at all for more than a month – in the midst of 115-degree weather. Filth lays in the streets, sewers don’t run, water is unclean. The only reason there is no such thing as Post-Traumatic Stress for the Iraqis is that the trauma never stops.
U.S. troops, under orders to “clean out” a supposed “terrorist” hideout, mow down the civilians who are there – what the army manuals called “collateral damage.” On occasion, as with Haditha which finally made its way into the news five months later, the lowest ranks may find themselves brought up on murder charges. But the generals, who gave them their orders, the man sitting in the White House, who sent them there, and the Congress, which provided the money, are allowed to pretend that their hands are clean.
No! The two parties can’t hide their blood-soaked responsibility for the disaster of these two wars.