- FCN Editorial – Failure to heed Divine Warning (FCN, 04-06-2007)
- The greatest foreign policy blunder since Vietnam (FCN, 01-26-2007)
- Iraq war deaths ‘top 650,000’ (FCN, 10-31-2006)
- Life in ‘liberated’ Iraq a disaster, UN report says (FCN, 06-01-2005)
THE WHITE HOUSE (FinalCall.com) – President George W. Bush is becoming more and more isolated over his war policies every day. On the ground in Iraq, the war continues to grind on, with little or no progress to report from what has become a quagmire.
At home, Congress has thrown down the gauntlet, voting 218-212 on Mar. 23 to fund the Iraq war only on condition that U.S. combat troops begin withdrawing by the summer of 2008. Moments later, a stern-faced and combative Pres. Bush–surrounded in the Diplomatic Reception Room by veterans and family members of those serving in combat–denounced their action as an “act of political theater,” promising to veto any Congressional timetable on his war.
“Today, a narrow majority in the House of Representatives abdicated its responsibility, by passing a war spending bill that has no chance of becoming law and brings us no closer to getting our troops the resources they need to do their job,” said Pres. Bush.
“The purpose of the emergency war spending bill I requested was to provide our troops with vital funding,” he said, attempting to portray the debate over his failing policies as a referendum on the men and women his administration has sent into harm’s way to carry out his plans, which most analysts now agree have no chance of succeeding.
But while the President drapes his flawed policies with concern for the well being of “the troops,” more and more troops, veterans, and military family members, even active-duty service personnel, are now openly opposing their commander-in-chief for trying to “win” a war they insist should never have been fought.
“I’ve been in the military going on nine years. I signed up to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I signed up because I love this country. I signed up to defend this country and I would gladly give my life for this country, any day that there is,” Geoff Millard, President of the D.C. Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, told The Final Call outside the office of a Congress member he and others visited on Mar. 22 to demand a vote against any funding of the war.
“But, why am I doing that? Why is this military making such sacrifices if this Congress won’t stand up and be a co-equal branch of this government?” he demanded.
Opponents of the war see their numbers growing. Their tactics are becoming more and more aggressive in opposition to Democrats they insist were given majorities in both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections in order to quickly end the war and bring U.S. troops home, as well as Republicans, who are maneuvering for its continuation.
“I am tired of the Democratic Party saying: ‘Well, we tried.’ I have been hearing it for six years,” “Marine Mom” Tina Richards told The Final Call. Ms. Richard’s son, Cpl. Cloy Richards, is poised for his third tour of duty in Iraq.
Ms. Richards was the leader of a delegation of peace activists which included organizations such as Veterans for Peace, United For Peace and Justice, Military Families Speak Out, and Iraq Veterans Against the War, that visited Congressional offices all week before the vote. They presented members who they could not convince to oppose the Democratic funding plan outright–even with its timetable for withdrawal–with a “Certificate of Ownership” of the Iraq war.
“I don’t go to the Republicans because I banged my head against the wall with them too. It’s both parties. None of them are paying attention to our troops. None of them are paying attention to the pain of the military families,” said Ms. Richards.
“It is just a political game with them, as our soldiers, as our sons and daughters die over in Iraq. I don’t want to be here, but I feel like I have to be here. I have no choice, because people are not talking about this in personal terms. They’re talking about it in political terms. And I’m here to make it a personal matter, because it is a very personal matter with me.”
It is personal for Ms. Richards because her son, an active-duty Marine, accompanied her on her visits to the Congressional offices. For his part, Cpl. Richards, carried a two-page hand-written letter he said he and 120 of his fellow Marines composed while on duty in the war zone. In it they complain that the Bush administration and its occupation of Iraq have “lost” the war which the soldiers “won” in 2003, when they toppled the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The war is also personal for Elaine Johnson. Her son, Specialist Darius Jennings, was killed in 2003, only the 367th death in a toll which has now reached 3,200 and counting. Her son was the second “casualty” in her family, she told The Final Call. Her brother, who fought in Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, came home 12 years ago suffering from Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder, and is now homeless, living on the streets somewhere in Washington state.
“Well, I never was for the war, no way, because my brother fought in Desert Storm. And so, I never was for the war from the beginning,” said Ms. Johnson.
“The war has gone on too long–four years. It has put a lot of wear and tear on the soldiers. It has put a lot of wear and tear on the family members. Families are being broken up because the soldiers come back with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and mothers like me, don’t know which way to go. A lot of us have lost our jobs because we couldn’t deal with the death of our children. We’ve got to end this war,” she said.
Ms. Johnson has joined the Hip-Hop Caucus on a 16-city national tour to talk to young people about making the right electoral choices in the future. “Because, this president has put us in such a mess; such a setback in finance, the next president has to do some real hard work to bring us out of debt.
“The tour is called: ‘Make Hip-Hop Not War’; ‘Books Not Bombs’; and ‘The Jennings Project.’ Make Hip-Hop Not War: That means reaching out to the younger generation. Books Not Bombs: That means use the money you’re using for bombs to destroy other people in this other country, use this for books over here, so our children can be educated. The Jennings Project: [This] is reaching out to the young folks, because my son was the Hip-Hop generation. That means reaching out to people his age, and more reaching out to people of color.
“It’s just…that’s hard on me also, because…I know what a war can do,” Ms. Johnson said tearfully, jumping from point to point. “And then my child was killed, and that just put more on me, so that’s why it’s very important for me to go around with the Hip-Hop Caucus to educate the people, so no more other families can go through the things that I’m going through and will continue to go through. I always tell people, when the war is over and Darius don’t come home, that’s when I will have my funeral. I buried a casket, but to me I have not had my funeral yet.”
Sergeant Millard is a former member of the New York National Guard. He left the military in order to work actively against the war. In referring to Congress, he said, “If they disagree with the war, [Congress is] supposed to pull the purse-strings on it. That’s what they’re supposed to do. But they’re not doing it. While they’re voting on it, three to five U.S. service members are going to be killed in Iraq. But to them, they’ll wait and they’ll wait. And every time they wait, more U.S. service members are killed. More of my brothers and sisters come home in flag-draped coffins, far from media-camera-blitzes. Nobody hears their stories. They just quietly go away.”
But Pres. Bush, surrounded by hand-picked veterans and military families, talked tough after the Congressional vote. “As I have made clear for weeks, I will veto it if it comes to my desk. And because the vote in the House was so close, it is clear that my veto would be sustained. Today’s action in the House does only one thing: It delays the delivering of vital resources for our troops.”
Other critics complain that even the troops have been poorly served by the Bush administration. Government officials as well as war critics complain that troops were sent, and are being sent, into combat without proper training; they have not had the best body armor that is available; and their vehicles have not been adequately protected from the hazards they face. On top of that, gross neglect and mismanagement has been reported in the post-medical treatment and rehabilitation for the 20,000-odd seriously wounded military personnel.
For example, Washington’s Army Reed Hospital, the premiere Army medical facility was found recently to house some recovering soldiers in a rat, and roach-infested building with moldy walls and generally unfit living conditions. And ironically, the “narrow” majority for the war appropriation in the House passed over the objections of 14 Democrats who, on principle oppose any further funding of the war. They voted “no” along with a majority of House Republicans.
In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee voted Mar. 22 to send its emergency, $122 billion, off-budget appropriation to the floor for debate, with a deadline, actually three months earlier than the House version. All of this, even as a former member of Pres. Bush’s national security team told an interviewer that Pres. Bush began planning the Iraq invasion within days of his taking office, months before 9-11. According to former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, Pres. Bush was unwilling to engage in debate, and was looking for any excuse to oust Iraq’s president.
“From the very beginning, there was a conviction Saddam Hussein was a bad person and he needed to go,” Mr. O’Neill said in an interview broadcast by CBS News Mar. 18.
The former Treasury Secretary, who has written a book called “The Price of Loyalty” with his views from inside the Bush administration, where he served for nearly two years, said in that time he never saw any evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The possession of such weapons by Iraq, was the original justification from the administration for launching the pre-emptive attack on that country which had never attacked or even threatened the United States.