Sunday, August 14, 2005

Chip Away At The Stone, Part Two

What follows is a Guest Opinion in today's Bucks County Courier Times written by Joyce A. McClain, a retired paralegal and crime prevention specialist. I don't think her fine words need any further clarification from me.

Some memories can last a lifetime. I still remember the shock of seeing the seemingly endless rows of flag-draped coffins lined up on the airport tarmac that filled my television screen in the '60s and early '70s. I remember attending the funeral for my husband's 19-year-old nephew who had been killed in Vietnam.

His pregnant wife received a letter from him the morning of his memorial services. He'd married his high school sweetheart just days before shipping out. Barely a bride, then a widow.

I remember the only son of our blind neighbor. He was headed for college until he was drafted. We all were relieved when we heard he had returned home. I remember thinking: Thank God he's safe. Then I saw him, a slender young man, laughing and talking to trees. His body was intact but his mind was lost somewhere in Nam.

I remember the demonstrations and opposition to the war. It was the power of the people's will that finally forced an end to the war.

There are some important similarities and differences between then and now. Now the names and faces of our fallen play across the television screen in silence; the administration knows the staggering reality check of seeing our young men and women returning home in pine boxes.

Then our reports out of Nam were stark and real, daily reminders of the horrors of war. Now, our reporters are embedded, their reports sanitized. Then the press was instrumental in ending the war. Now the press helped sell the war.

Then we had a balance of power. Now we have an unrestrained party with monopoly control over every branch.

Then the Gulf of Tonkin incident of 1964, an incident that was never proven to have taken place, was used to massively escalate our presence in Nam. Now this Teflon administration created elaborate lies that were their justification for Iraq. Just as Teflon was recently deemed to be a carcinogen, so too is this administration dangerous to democracy and our health.

It is a truism: united we stand, divided we fall. We stood united after 9/11 and the world stood with us as we pursued bin Laden, the person the administration publicly identified as the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. We fell divided as we switched course midstream and took a detour to Iraq.

During Bush's recent speech from Fort Bragg, NC, he repeatedly linked Iraq and 9/11. The world knows what he cannot admit: there was no link between Iraq, Saddam, and 9/11. Bush spoke of the insurgents and the terrorists as though they are one in the same. The insurgents are Iraqis who are resisting an occupying force. They will always resist our presence.

While he is correct that Iraq has become "a hotbed for terrorists," this occurred on our watch after the invasion, and it happened for two reasons: the borders were not secured and the Iraqi army was disbanded.

The foreign jihadists swarm unrestrained into Iraq, The borders are still not secured - but the oil fields were secured on day one. We are less safe than ever because Bush didn't consider the consequences of the invasion for America or for Iraq. He makes decisions in the blink of an eye, certain that his line to The Father is unerring but that line does not go beyond his ego.

"The Downing Street Memo" and the minutes of six other meetings between March and April of 2002 by British top officials to Tony Blair are all authentic and incriminating documents. They reveal Bush's obsessive determination to topple a sovereign government that posed no imminent threat to us. This administration has become the purveyors of death, torture, rendition, and al Qaeda's number one recruiting tool.

Whatever happened to accountability? Was this was fought in the name of Oil, Strategic Position, Empire Building or Sheer Stupidity?

The American public, especially the families of those who died, deserve the truth about the war. Why it was fought, how it will end. How many more soldiers will be shipped home permanently disabled or in body bags before we raise a united voice and declare enough is enough?

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