This is the most difficult article that I have ever had to write, but I have to write it anyway, unfortunately.
I, and just about anyone and everyone who criticizes George Bush and this war are accused of “not supporting the troops.” Since my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq because of lies and to actually make that country safe for our corporate interests, I have been saying the only way we can support our troops at this point is to get them the hell out of this illegal and immoral war.
The massacre in Haditha on November, 19, 2005, is just another way to underscore the fact that our troops are being turned into war criminals in what one article called: “The Worst War Crime of the Iraq War.” (Sydney Morning Herald; May 28 , 2006). In a stunning display of shameless hypocrisy George Bush said of the (not uncommon) butchering of innocent civilians in Haditha:
“Our troops have been trained on core values throughout their training, but obviously there was an incident that took place in Iraq,”
Bush also said this following a meeting of his cabinet: the world will see a “full and complete” investigation.
Another false piece of propaganda that we are fed is that we need to support the president, especially when we are “at war.” I say, “No, way!” Our kids know the difference between right and wrong before they are sucked into a military system that dehumanizes our soldiers and forces them to dehumanize the “enemy” to the point where it is apparently acceptable behavior to kill children and to cover up the murders. Can we all assume that little Georgie was never told that cold-blooded murder is wrong seeing that his family has supported wars and their inherent crimes for at least three generations?
The double standard that our leaders have set for themselves and the troops is amoral and corrupt. I have not seen anywhere in the discussion of this topic that, not only is Haditha not the worse war crime committed by American or coalition troops, but the entire war is a war crime. The Pentagon needs to be dismantled, cleansed with holy water and purified by incense and left to lie fallow for generations in atonement for all of the crimes that have been planned and committed within its walls.
The following list of illegal, immoral, and atrocious behavior is obvious and not all inclusive by any means:
* 12 years of devastating sanctions that were responsible for killing over 500,000 Iraqi children.
* Destroying antiquities and culture is a war crime and prohibited under Geneva Conventions.
*The invasion of Iraq is a preventive war of aggression against a country that was no threat to the USA or the world and was expressly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.
*The invasion was not sanctioned or approved of by the United Nations .
*”Shock and awe ” targeted civilian centers and killed many innocent people.
*Use of chemical weapons, especially white phosphorous enhanced with napalm, particularly in the second siege of Fallujah.
*Targeting hospitals, clinics, and threatening Medical Doctors with execution if one treats “insurgents” (which can apparently include babies and pregnant women).
*Using highly compensated mercenaries to carry out executions and torture.
*Forcing a style of government on the citizens and manipulating the outcome of the elections.
*Dishonoring the Constitution of the United States by invading Iraq without a declaration of war by Congress and by breaking our treaties with the United Nations and the ratified Geneva Conventions.
George Bush is correct. A “full and complete” investigation needs to be made into the crimes against humanity in Iraq, and if justice prevails, this would in turn lead to the trial and conviction of George and the rest of the neocon purveyors of torture and murder, for which the maximum penalties should be applied.
The level of accountability needs to rise higher than Specialist or Private and should reach up down the very blackest bowels of an administration that lied through its teeth to get our country into a war of aggression and occupation. The commander in chief needs to be prosecuted: NOW!
The most difficult part of this writing is in trying to reconcile the fact that our soldiers, for one example, in Haditha, could not show conscience and restraint, qualities which may have prevented a murderous rampage. When one sees the pictures of bodies burned beyond human recognition; hears of 2 year old children being killed out of revenge; women being shot for failing to stop at a checkpoint that is in the middle of THEIR country; prisoners being tortured in despicably inhumane ways; ad immoral infinitum: one should be appalled and ashamed to call oneself an American. That some of our soldiers would stoop to the level of their leaders to commit such atrocities is unspeakable. Bush says our troops have been trained in “core values” when he as a so-called born again Christian can claim that God told him to invade Iraq and it’s okay to spy on American citizens like he is some kind of sick voyeur with a penchant for death and destruction.
War, under any circumstance, is not a “core value” of humanity; in fact, it is the ultimate failure of humanity. War turns our mostly normal American youth into wanton murderers who have lost their own humanity and love of others. Haditha in this war and My Lai in another disgusting war were unfortunately not aberrations. War is the abominable aberration.
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice , our troops are forbidden from obeying unlawful orders and Iraq was unlawful before it ever began. Our soldiers need to start disobeying the unlawful order to even be deployed to Iraq and not raise their weapons in appeasement to the Bush Regime and say: “This war is the criminal, I am not. Threaten me if you will, but I am not going to be an accomplice in your crimes against humanity.”
We as people working for peace have long held that the people of Iraq did not deserve the treatment that they are getting from BushCo, but it is our troops who are pulling the triggers and pushing the buttons or flushing the Koran or sexually abusing prisoners, and we know about it, so that makes us accessories to the crimes, unless we are actively trying to end the severe breach of compassion and mercy that is being carried out in the Middle East.
Yes, we have to work to end the war and to hold everyone who commits atrocities accountable, from private to president, but we also have to support our soldiers that do not want to kill. It is a tragic dichotomy in this society that one can be executed for killing someone, but also be executed or imprisoned for disobeying an order to go and take the life of another human being in war.
There are several ways that our young men and women can be supported in resisting the evil of BushCo and Iraq. The GI Rights Hotline is there to help soldiers get out of going to an illegal and immoral war and the War Resister’s League in Canada needs support to help our soldiers find sanctuary and safety. Counter-recruitment is also a powerful tool to use to prevent our children from being sucked into the evil war machine and being used as cannon fodder/weapons of mass destruction for profit.
Where can the people of Iraq go to find sanctuary and safety? They have no place to run to and they have no voice to end this war of terror that is being waged on them by the USA.
It is up to us to be the voice of the babies of Iraq and of the other people whose only crime was to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time with the additional bad luck of living on top of rich oil reserves.
Support the troops? I support only those who are NOT supporting the exploitation of the Iraqi people, and those who do not allow the war profiteers to carry on with their death and destruction all for the sake of an opulent lifestyle. I do not support those who are supporting a criminally insane and treacherous foreign policy. However I, as the mother of a slain soldier, will do anything I can to support all of them by working to shorten their stay in an unwelcoming country, and bring them home from the quagmire that their so- called commander in chief forced them into.
Also, when our troops do come home from the war, they need all of the counseling, job training and help they require to transition back to a life where most people don’t even recognize that there is a war being waged.
BushCo and the war machine killed my baby. They have killed tens of thousands more.
BushCo need to be prosecuted and punished like the common criminals that they are.
We owe this to the people of Iraq, the world, and our own soldiers.
We owe it to ourselves.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan who was KIA in Bush’s illegal and immoral war on 04/04/04. Her newest book is Dear President Bush (foreword by Howard Zinn) published in the Open Media Series by City Lights Books. She is also author of Not One More Mother’s Child (Koa Books) and Peace Mom, One Mom’s Journey from Heartache to Activism forthcoming from Atria Books. Cindy is also founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace.