Saturday, August 27, 2005

Feeling the Pain

Iraq, the constant quagmire. Iraq, the war that never should have been and seems well on its way to becoming the war that will never end. From this morning's headlines, Bush Calls for Patience on Iraq Mission, on his radio address to the nation - saying such cheerful things as: ''Iraqis are working together to build a free nation that contributes to peace and stability in the region, and we will help them succeed," and giving no sign of distress over the serious snags that the rest of us have observed over the past week in the attempts to hammer out a constitution for a democratic process. No signs of awareness, even, that what we may have wrought in Iraq is another Islamic theocracy, more akin to Iran than to a peaceful, stable democracy. Another of his happy little quotes is this:

Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve,'' he said. ''Yet people across the Middle East are choosing a future of freedom and prosperity and hope. And as they take these brave steps, Americans will continue to stand with them because we know that free and democratic nations are peaceful nations.

The man is delusional, to say the least. On Friday, a less deslusional former Republican and former military man, Wesley Clark, wrote an Op-Ed piece for the WaPo, called Before It's Too Late in Iraq. In it he sets out a three-pronged plan: diplomatic, political and military, for cleaning up the post-invasion mess that is current day Iraq. Personally, I believe it's too late already, but if someone capable of thinking like this had been among this utterly mad president's advisors at the outset, things might have been very different. This plan is far more intricate than simply "staying the course" or mindlessly repeating the same platitudes to a nation that has ceased to believe them. No, two nations: this one and Iraq.

So, I get really depressed and spiritually devastated about this whole thing, seeing no end, certainly no good end, in sight, perhaps ever. Then - I go read about Cindy Sheehan and the shitstorm her persistence is kicking up, a peace movement finally starting to stand up and make itself heard. And I remember the days of my youth, the mounting national anger and frustration against the Viet Nam War. We need to not let this become the usual media one-night stand; as Sheehan demands that this war be kept in the forefront of our attention, we need to let all our elected officials know that we agree with her. She can't do this by herself, it needs to become an ever-growing populist movement of people tired of lies and depleted national leadership.

In this Rolling Stone article, Bush and The Mother, by Matt Taibbi, we see an exhausted Sheehan talking to Tabbai:


Sheehan believes that no matter what happens, one thing she accomplished was the returning of the Iraq war to its rightful place at the forefront of the national consciousness. She describes an experience earlier in the week when a TV producer offhandedly mentioned to her that her timing was perfect, that Sheehan had been lucky to hold her vigil on what was otherwise a slow news week.

"And I said to her, 'A slow news week? Didn't thirty soldiers die in the war this month?'" She shook her head. "It's crazy. Iraq should be the lead story every day.

In this she is exactly right. It should be. Not just the numbers of the dead, but the reality of the treachery that got us into Iraq, the possibility that more troops will be sent over, the immorality that lied about our reasons to invade this country, the immorality that will not give us straight answers about why we are still there. And it is up to all of us to make this our cause. It is up to us to keep what Tabbai here calls "exposure to consequence" in the public eye, constantly and truthfully.

In the Sixties, the anti-war movement was part of a cultural revolution: If you opposed Vietnam, you were also rejecting the whole rigid worldview that said life meant going to war, fighting the Commies, then coming back to work for the man, buying two cars and dying with plenty of insurance. That life blueprint was the inflexible expectation of the time, and so ending the war of that era required a visionary movement.

Iraq isn't like that. Iraq is an insane blunder committed by a bunch of criminal incompetents who have managed so far to avoid the lash and the rack only because the machinery for avoiding reality is so advanced in this country. We don't watch the fighting, we don't see the bodies come home and we don't hear anyone screaming when a house in Baghdad burns down or a child steps on a mine.

The only movement we're going to need to end this fiasco is a more regular exposure to consequence. It needs to feel its own pain. Cindy Sheehan didn't bring us folk songs, but she did put pain on the front pages. And along a lonely Texas road late at night, I saw it spread.


posted at 7:57:00 PM by marigolds2

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