James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Facing truth: Lives lost in Iraq are wasted lives

Every one of the more than 3,100 Americans who have died in Iraq represents a life wasted.

Every one of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of the U.S. invasion of their country had their lives wasted.

All of the wounded and displaced and impoverished – surely in the hundreds of thousands, though we have no trustworthy numbers -- have suffered their agonies needlessly. Many of those lives, too, will prove to have been wasted as the suicides and disappearances, ruined careers and homeless wanderings multiply.

Those who survive and go on to live more or less normal lives nevertheless represent waste – the physical, mental and emotional agonies they have suffered and will suffer, the long hours struggling to recover, to regain basic skills, the difficulties of adjustment, finding or recovering careers, the lost marriages and others that go on under enormous strain, the estrangement of veterans from parents and children and friends. All of it is enormous waste.

Yes, damn it. Waste.

We're not supposed to say that in the United States of Euphemism. To tell the truth, to say publicly that all those lives have been wasted is to bring down anger and hatred. And it comes from all directions.

We're supposed to talk about the “sacrifices of our brave soldiers.” And never are we supposed to say that anybody has died for no good reason, even though it is the unvarnished truth.

In late February, two presidential candidates, one from the right and one from the...somewhere, but not far right..said openly that the lives of our soldiers have been wasted in Iraq. Both started back-peddling just minutes after having uttered that basic truth.

Democrat Barack Obama said the war in Iraq should never have been started and noted that “we now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.”

Republican John McCain, a big supporter of the war, played to the audience on the David Letterman TV show by criticizing the “management” of the war and then observed that “We've wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives, over there.”

Republicans jumped all over Obama after his statement. Democrats returned the attacks in kind after McCain's television appearance, until he crawled and said he really should have said “sacrifice” rather than waste.

Both parties are full of crap and cowardice. The original statements of the two candidates probably are the truest and most honest words they'll speak between now and November 2008 – or maybe evermore.

Once again: All of the excuses given for the U.S. invasion of Iraq have been proven false.

Some of the real reasons for the invasion are clear, some not so clear. Oil, yes. Lust for dominance in the Middle East, yes. Dreams of world domination on the part of the twisted neocons in the White House, yes. Absurd ideas of family honor on the part of our juvenile president, very probably. The same fool's ridiculous dream of going into the history books as a warrier king, also probably. The opportunity for enormous wealth to be sucked from a war, definitely.

Those reasons have nothing to do with the best interests of the United States or its people and are, in fact, anathema to the public good. And given that bare, terrible fact, every life lost in Iraq is a life thrown away.

It's understandable on one level that many Americans – especially those who have lost family members in Iraq, or whose sons, daughters, husbands, wives, parents are under fire – can't look at the truth.

All of those people gone, or ripped and torn and gutted for no legitimate reason. The natural reaction is to avert our eyes. How could that be? Not in these good and glorious United States.

It has to be gut-wrenching, soul-tearing hard to admit that you sent a son or a wife off to die for nothing more than to satisfy the greed and power-lust of a bunch of immature, mentally unstable egotists. Far easier to sooth the pain – which will remain terrible in any case – by pretending that the death was an honorable and needed sacrifice on behalf of our country. “Better to fight them there than here” goes the foolish but undoubtedly comforting mantra.

Some people still can make themselves believe that the “sacrifice” also was for the poor bastards whose country we have destroyed, thus making it seem more noble.

Such views are supported by the immature fools who somehow get an ego boost from watching others beaten and murdered in our name. And they're supported by the evangelical empire-builders and their followers, and by a dwindling but still large slice of the public who find it necessary to believe that whatever our government does is right because it is the government of the infallible United States of America.

Most of us know better, but we've been bullied into silence.

It's time to speak, publicly and privately.

There's no excuse for cruelty. People who have suffered the death or maiming of a child or a spouse or a parent must be treated with respect and sympathy – no screaming at them about “baby killers” as was sometimes done during the Vietnam war. They and/or their loved ones were conned, lied to, tricked into the situation which led to the losses, and those losses are terrible.

But we must, gently and firmly, stand our ground on the truth. The war should not have happened. It is the product of twisted minds and it has done only harm to humanity. Those lives have been wasted.

The war must be brought to an end as soon as withdrawal can be physically, logistically organized.

Most importantly, one does not honor those who died by allowing more people to die for no good reason, and the parents, spouses, children of those who died and were wounded must be asked to face that. More wasted lives will not justify those already wasted.

Cindy Sheehan and the others of her brave sort – far more of them than the corporate media will acknowledge -- have it right. Their pain will stay with them all their lives, but it is better to fight to save others than to eat lies.