Someone should tell United States Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and the rest of the nationâ€™s imperial, right-wing â€œleadershipâ€ are still alive. Kerry seemed unaware of this when he responded Wednesday to the by-now standard Republican charge that he and other Democrats advocate a â€œcut and runâ€ policy in Iraq. The war party in power, Kerry retorted (in an interview with CNNâ€™s Anderson Cooper), is conducting a policy of â€œLie and Dieâ€ (CNN, â€œAnderson Cooper 360 Degrees,â€ June 21, 2006 at 10 PM ET), the last word referring to the 2500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq.
Kerry is obviously right to accuse Cheney and Bush et al. of mendacity on Mesopotamia. From the start, the monumentally illegal and brazenly imperialist occupation of Iraq has been accompanied by truly remarkable levels of coordinated White House and Pentagon deception. The most relevant Washington war lies include the claims that:
* Saddam Husseinâ€™s regime possessed significant stocks of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that posed a threat to the U.S. and the world
* Saddam was a suicidal madman who would have signed his own death warrant by attacking the U.S. or Israel (or another U.S. client state) with his (fictional)WMD
* Saddamâ€™s regime was linked to 9/11
* A significant coalition of democratic nations and people supported the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq
* Saddamâ€™s regime would have handed off (fictional) WMD to its extremist Islamo-terrorist enemies in al Qaeda
* Saddamâ€™s Iraq was a relevant base of operations for al Qaeda
* The U.S. seeks a genuinely free, independent, and democratic Iraq and has no imperial designs on Iraqâ€™s stupendous, super-strategic oil reserves
* U.S. forces are agents of peace, stability, democracy, and reconstruction in Iraq
But who has died because of these and numerous other related and criminal high-state deceptions, enabled and all-too dutifully disseminated by dominant U.S. war media? Not the Republican â€œchickenhawkâ€ elite, as Vietnam veterans like Kerry and antiwar Representative Jack Murtha (D-PA) know.
Not the centrist elites of the Democratic non-opposition Party (which could produce only 13 Senate votes yesterday in support of Kerryâ€™s proposal to set a July 2007 deadline for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq), who continue to grease the wheels of the rolling imperial slaughterhouse with pathetic babble about the need to maintain U.S. â€œcredibilityâ€ (ala Rumsfeld’s hero Al Capone) and to prevent Iraq from â€œsliding into chaos.â€
The leading victims, of course, are Iraqis, whose body count runs into the hundreds of thousands when we include people who have died from disease, crime, injury, and unimaginable stress resulting from the warâ€™s devastation of their nationâ€™s fragile economic health and civic and social infrastructure.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been more directly murdered by Empire, their lives ended by American and British bombs, bullets, shells, chemicals, pellets, flashes, percussions, and flames.
In some cases (e.g. Haditha), Iraqi civilians have been executed up close by â€œliberatingâ€ U.S. forces on the ground.
Whatever the precise methods leading to their demise, all of these dead Iraqis were killed by Washingtonâ€™s criminal occupation, an action enabled by leading U.S. Democrats (Kerry included) and the â€œliberalâ€ U.S. news and entertainment state.
The American troops charged with directly executing this inherently mass-murderous operation have done so under orders they are conditioned to accept as legitimate through Orwellian brainwashing that instructs them to believe they are â€œavenging 9/11,â€ fighting â€œterrorism,â€ and â€œdefending Americaâ€ in Mesopotamia.
The true mass killers are found in Washington and atop the nationâ€™s military-industrial and war media complexes â€“ at the soulless pinnacles of Empire and Inequality, Inc. They stride in expensive suits through the calm, cool, and air-conditioned corridors of power while children weep and soldiersâ€™ lose their limbs in the sweltering bloodbath of â€œliberatedâ€ Iraq. As Bob Dylan put it in 1962, â€œthey fasten the triggers for the others to fireâ€ and â€œsit back and watch while the death count gets higher. They hide in their mansions, while young peopleâ€™s blood, flows out of their bodies and gets buried in the mudâ€ (Dylan, “Masters of War”). They are the real butchers of Haditha, Fallujah, and Baghdad â€“ the murderers of Iraq.
The other victims, of course, are the mainly working-class U.S. soldiers sent to kill, maim, and die. Twenty-five hundred of these generally well-intentioned and commonly young, disadvantaged, and poorly educated GIs have died so far. They have been killed by the Bush, Cheney, Rove, and Rumsfeld cabal and its large and bipartisan number of enablers. They died for lies not of their own making.
They commonly enlisted for reasons that included a sincere desire to serve and defend their country, not to be pawns in a petroluem-soaked and imperialist power grab. They were systematically deceived by their superiors, who worked to fill their minds with false and all-too commonly racist notions designed to turn them into killing machines.
The real killers are in Washington. Their victims include 2500 Americans and a much larger number of Iraqis.
Itâ€™s good to see public opinion pushing Kerry to greater courage in challenging the jingoistic war party. But genuinely antiwar politicians should acknowledge that the war hawkâ€™s policy is Lie and KILL, not Lie and DIE, and that the main victims of their murderous conduct are Iraqis, not Americans.
Paul Street ([email protected]) is a writer, speaker, activist, and historian based in Iowa City, IA. He is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2004) and Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in Post-Civil Rights America (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005)