Note to Kerry: It’s Lie and KILL, Not “Lie and DIE”

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 nation’s imperial, right-wing “leadership” 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 “cut and run” policy in Iraq.  The war party in power, Kerry retorted (in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper), is conducting a policy of “Lie and Die” (CNN, “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees,” 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 Hussein’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
* Saddam’s regime was linked to 9/11
* A significant coalition of democratic nations and people supported the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq
* Saddam’s regime would have handed off (fictional) WMD to its extremist Islamo-terrorist enemies in al Qaeda
* Saddam’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 Iraq’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 “chickenhawk” 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 Kerry’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. “credibility” (ala Rumsfeld’s hero Al Capone) and to prevent Iraq from “sliding into chaos.”  
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 war’s devastation of their nation’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 “liberating” U.S. forces on the ground. 
Whatever the precise methods leading to their demise, all of these dead Iraqis were killed by Washington’s criminal occupation, an action enabled by leading U.S. Democrats (Kerry included) and the “liberal” 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 “avenging 9/11,” fighting “terrorism,” and “defending America” in  Mesopotamia.
The true mass killers are found in Washington and atop the nation’s military-industrial and war media complexes – 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 soldiers’ lose their limbs in the sweltering bloodbath of “liberated” Iraq.  As Bob Dylan put it in 1962, “they fasten the triggers for the others to fire” and “sit back and watch while the death count gets higher. They hide in their mansions, while young people’s blood, flows out of their bodies and gets buried in the mud”  (Dylan, “Masters of War”). They are the real butchers of Haditha, Fallujah, and Baghdad – 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.
It’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 hawk’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)



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