On the Significance of Responsibility and the Consequences of Actions


In a short story called The War Prayer by Mark Twain we read about a town that is in jubilation as they prepare for a parade to honor some of their townsmen who will be leaving for the glory of battle. At one point in the story the local preacher recites a prayer asking God for victory. A lone figure walks up to the podium and says, "I come from the Throne — bearing a message from Almighty God! He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import — that is to say, its full import." [1] 

We then read the tale of the awful consequences for those on the receiving end of their weapons. Déjà vu.
 
With the news that more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq it’s appropriate to mention other lesser-known facts about this war in the same spirit of Twain’s short story.
 
When President Bush signed the newest "defense" budget, H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, he threw in one more of his infamous "signing statements" because "sections 841, 846, 1079, and 1222, purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations." [2] One section in particular that is revealing is Sec. 1222:
 
SEC. 1222. LIMITATION ON AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES RELATING TO IRAQ.

No funds appropriated pursuant to an authorization of appropriations in this Act may be obligated or expended for a purpose as follows:

(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq.

(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq. 

 
 
One might wonder how establishing permanent bases and controlling Iraq’s oil is a "constitutional obligation."
 
The Department of Defense has reported nearly 30,000 wounded soldiers and more than 40,000 have received medical air transport. [3]
 
Using standard statistical procedures we know that Iraqis have endured more than 1.2 million "excess" deaths since the war began more than five years ago. This excludes the two most violent provinces – Karbala and Al Anbar – for security reasons. The toll is likely to be significantly higher. [4]
 
More than 4 million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes with more than two million fleeing the country. As concrete walls are put up to cement the ethnic cleansing going on under our watch a suitable solution seems more and more distant. [5]
 
More than 60% of Iraqis are unemployed [6] and electricity is still not back to pre-war levels in many areas. [7]
 
Malnutrition in children has doubled. [8] Keep in mind these figures are increasing even after a period of economic sanctions that not only killed more than half-a-million children in less than a decade, but when our former-Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, was asked about the effects of these sanctions she said it "was worth it."
 
Cholera outbreaks have occurred and are increasing in their fatality. [9] These outbreaks increased dramatically following the first Gulf War when the U.S. Air Force targeted water treatment facilities – a war crime – and then used the sanctions to block their repair. The Defense Intelligence Agency even went so far as to monitor these predictable effects after the first war. [10]
 
Birth defects and cancer are continually rising, and likely due to our use of depleted uranium.[11]
 
The most recent opinion polls available show that more than half of the Iraqi population want us out within a year, more than half approves of attacking our troops and more than half also feel our presence is the reason for the violence and that things will get better as soon as we leave. In the areas where our presence is more significant the opposition to our occupation is more significant as well. [12]
 
In the recent book The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda J. Bilmes we learn that the cost of the war is estimated to exceed $3 trillion. [13]
 
This is an illegal war [14] and is what the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg said was "the supreme international crime": wars of aggression.
 
The above mentioned facts exclude the CIA’s involvement in the coup de tat that brought the Ba’athists to power [15], and the support of the "ruthless" policies of Saddam in the 1970′s that Henry Kissinger said "was to be expected" [16], or the support for Saddam’s aggression against Iran [17], or the detailed war crimes of the first Gulf War [18], the genocidal sanctions [19], the bombings carried out in the illegal No-Fly Zones [20] and the "spikes in activity" mentioned in the Downing Street Memo. [21]
 
We need to do more than impeach our leaders. We should hold them accountable and bring them to justice. We need to formally apologize for our aggression, leave Iraq ASAP and encourage them to resolve any internal differences in a non-violent manner. We should even pay reparations just like we demanded Iraq pay Kuwait for the formers act of aggression back in 1990.
 
To do this would take highly organized and mobilized social movements that know what they want and won’t budge from their demands. [22] [23] We must: Get Educated, Get Organized and Get Active! The costs to us for our criminal behavior are and have been negligible; the costs to Iraq are and have been criminal. Enough is Enough!
 
To Be Continued…
 
 
References:
 
[1] The War Prayer by Mark Twain
 
[2] President Bush Signs H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 into Law
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080128-10.html
 
[3] Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
 
[4] September 2007 – More than 1,000,000 Iraqis murdered
 
[5] The Iraqi Displacement Crisis
 
[6] IRAQ: Jobs fair aims to reduce unemployment, insurgency
 
[7] Electricity
 
[8] IRAQ: Malnutrition among under-fives
 
[9] Cholera in Iraq – update 3
http://www.who.int/csr/don/2007_10_03/en/
 
[10] War Crimes, US Planners And Iraq’s Water Vulnerability
 
[11] Nothing depleted about ‘depleted uranium’
 
[12] Most Iraqis Want U.S. Troops Out Within a Year
 
[13] The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes
 
[14] Iraq war illegal, says Annan
 
[15] Ex-U.S. Official Says CIA Aided Baathists
 
[16] "Secretary’s Principals and Regionals Staff Meeting," April 28, 1975 (Excerpt)
 
[17] U.S. support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war
 
[18] War Crimes: A Report on U.S. War Crimes Against Iraq
 
[19] Denis Halliday: Iraq Sanctions Are Genocide
 
[20] No-fly zones: The legal position
 
[21] The Downing Street Memo
 
[22] Global Justice Movement
 
[23] List of anti-war organizations
 

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