A Radical Proposal: Peace and Justice


This is about war and peace. Yes, the most important thing today is more jobs. That is the very first item that should be on the White House agenda every morning and every afternoon and every evening. That is number one. And there are good and relatively simple ways to create jobs and really jump-start the economy. We will discuss them on this blog. But not this time. This is about war.

The two are not totally unrelated. We need to allocate more of the resources we are spending on war to the domestic economy. We can do a great deal to increase the economy and free up some revenues to create about 5 million jobs, which would stimulate our economy. Our current economy is now about 80% service businesses–fast food, dry cleaners, plumbers, retailers of all kinds. If we create jobs with public funds, that will jump start all these enterprises until private investment begins to come back into the market. Then those public jobs will transition to a growing private sector. That’s how a solid economy works.

Simultaneously, we must accelerate the departure of our troops from Iraq. We need a comprehensive plan to shut down the war in Iraq…fast….now…and get out. We need to bring all those troops home. Not a quarter of them. Not half of them. Not two thirds of them. At least 90% of them. Bring them home and phase them out. Of course Afghanistan is different.

We also need to win the war in Afghanistan and come home. Of course the key word there is “win.” What does that mean? We are fighting a war that is partly obvious, a hot war. But it is also a “cold war” of espionage and sabotage and terror. Some people spend years in Intelligence in foreign countries working every day against opposing countries who do, indeed, have spies, who, while you are driving to work or taking the subway or the “L” or having lunch are kidnapping people, torturing them, and killing or imprisoning them.

It isn’t something that happened only during the Cold War. It happened then on a large scale. By the way, it really did happen. It isn’t a movie plot. It was the reality of daily life for many people, some of whom may be standing next to you today in the supermarket. Some secrets you have to keep forever. People were poisoned. People disappeared. They just went out and didn’t come back. There was nothing anyone could do. It was a nuclear stalemate in which information was key…any little scrap of information might turn into a huge military advantage.

Today, it is a different group of people, different places, different times. different reasons. Some who were enemies are now, to some degree, moderately friendly, even collaborators. Some who were allies may become suspect. International relations is a fluid enterprise. A country that sends tens of millions of immigrants to the United States suddenly finds American brother fighting foreign national brother on a battlefield. How often has that happened?

So we have fought wars to maintain our freedom and we have fought wars to protect our commercial enterprises. We have fought wars to defeat corrupt and totalitarian enterprises. But let’s not forget that we have allowed some totalitarian enterprises kill millions of innocent people, slaughter them, even in this new century…standing idly bye…as their shrunken bodies were piled high, like the corpses at Buchenwald or Dachau. So we are like the Congressional Medal of Honor winner who once said that he was a hero one time, and that one out of five is not bad. One is better than none.

We have sacrificed–literally made bloody sacrifices–against slavery, against Fascism, against Communism, and now against Jihadism, that cancerous cell within the body of Muslim teaching that has gone wildly off course.

But the Iraq War was wrong. If we do not stop now, do everything in our power to make amends and leave, we will be as guilty as the two or three war criminals, and their associates, who started it. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have had wonderful lives. With the possible exception of Rumsfeld, they have come very far, financially, on very little talent.

It matters little whether a man has little intelligence or simply fails to apply the intelligence that God gave him. The effect is the same. This is what both Bush and Cheney did. Cheney simply used his intelligence only enough to accomplish personal, selfish goals. He would have been a good and efficient gauleiter for Hitler, efficiently using his clerk’s mind to see that the trains got off to Auschwitz on time. He has spent his life using our political system to advance his personal well being. Four-thousand-three-hundred American lives were sacrificed in Iraq for his personal well being. There was no threat to the United States and he knew it. He is a war criminal.

Bumpkin Bush, like Hess, was a stooge but not feeble minded. All apparent evidence to the contrary, he is not mentally impaired or deranged. He is simply the co-conspirator, the lesser crook. He is the guy you leave in the car with the motor running, hoping that his known cowardice will not overcome him and you will come out of the bank and he will still be there.

He had the name. He was the crowned head, the spoiled prince of the royal family–the figurehead, the former President’s son, around whom the plot could be built. Unlike foreign princes, he deserves more than simple banishment. He deserves the same punishment as the others for more than 250,000 dead, innocent Iraqis.

The Iraqi civilians, already oppressed by a ruthless, vicious dictator, sat in the dark in their simple stone houses, huddled together, listening to the American bullets, planes, helicopters roaring overhead, feeling the concussion of bombs exploding, shaking the earth. These were not Al Qaeda. Most were merely citizens, most of them, leading simple, rudimentary lives. Millions–those who could–fled the country. Untold numbers of those who could not were caught up as refugees or killed or missing or mutilated by the inevitable, inescapable engines of war.

We did it. We Americans did it. If you are an American then you share some responsibility. The only way you can honor that responsibility is to work now, today and tomorrow and beyond–you can’t go back–for the end to our occupation and the departure of our military.

It is not an honorable war. It is a disgrace to sacrifice American lives and bodies to kill innocent Iraqis even though it was done as “collateral damage.” What a term! Women and children…collateral damage. No piles of bodies, but bodies just the same. Is this how we want our military to act? Is this the lesson we want our military to have? Follow blindly any aggressive President who wants to commit our huge military operation to his own personal war? We pride ourselves on being a nation of laws. Either we are or we aren’t.

Why did we not learn our lesson from Viet Nam? We went in for good reasons, discovered that those reasons had not been completely accurate and were subject to revision. We sat on our hands diplomatically while we hoped that killing enough North Vietnamese would persuade them to capitulate, thereby saving us from admitting that we should probably not have been there in the first place.

But, oh, the price we paid for that in a generation of soldiers both citizen-soldiers and professional! They understood and didn’t want to go through that again. But we didn’t learn our lesson for another reason: our political system.

We elected a movie star as President. And what happens? He comes to office from a former job as a reasonably competent governor. But he has an agenda. He allows the money changers to take over the Sacred Temple of government. By the time he leaves, they are everywhere. Like cockroaches, they spread into every department, every facet of Federal government eating away at the structure.

None of these cockroaches had ever been to war, not the ones making the ultimate decisions. They had avoided war. They cared only–and the evidence is overwhelming that they still do–about personal enrichment. So they did not know that going to war was much more than John Wayne taking on Japanese soldiers from Santa Monica or Pasadena. Some had experienced a slight taste of war when Generals Schwartzkopf and Powell took an overwhelming force and sent an aggressor packing back to Iraq in 1990-1991 while annihilating his forces. But they served under a Commander-in-Chief who had volunteered at age 17 before he was an honors Yale graduate to become a WWII combat pilot, George H.W. Bush…Bush the First. As opposed to Bush the Second…the inattentive, spoiled, loser.

The second Iraq war was unprovoked. It was an arbitrary decision made by Bush and Cheney. We must realize, as with Viet Nam, that it was a mistake. It was a mistake for the country to have taken part in it, but it was an accident. It was deliberate. It was clearly a deliberate act on the part of a few, very aggressive, evil, devious and greedy men who wished to take advantage of what they thought would be another, easy victory leading to control of one of the world’s great oil fields.

Of course, lacking real military experience, they ignored the warnings and the objections of the General Staff of the Military, probably the finest we have every had…certainly the best educated and most prepared…that it was wrong and even if it were not, it would require huge investments of manpower and finances that the country did not have. They fired one Chief of Staff. Another chose to retire rather than be an accomplice in a war he knew to be wrong.

After running down the list of Generals who declined to be involved in an illegal, ill-conceived war, General Tommy Franks apparently said he would do it. It would be his last command and someone was obviously going to be ordered to do it, so why not try to insure that it did not become any more of a disaster than it was shaping up to be? That seems to be the only explanation. He apparently decided keep as many U.S. soldiers from getting accidentally killed by this irresponsible group of civilians as he could.

We know now that CIA agents and officials state categorically that they knew that Saddam Hussein had no weapons sufficient to mount any serious attack on other countries and none at all to attack the United States. Much more importantly, they now state that there was a Bush-Cheney White House plan to attack Iraq that was widely known and was being supplemented by CIA plans as early as one year before the war started.

Planning and carrying out an unprovoked, preemptive war on another country is a war crime. It is not a war game. It is war. It results in billions of dollars of damage and costs the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. It is a crime and a crime deserves punishment, not to be avoided because you are rich, or politically powerful or arrogant…or an American President.