Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Blogswarm Against The War
Five years ago today, my in-laws were visiting from Fresno, California. They had come to Panamá to help the Lovely Mona and I celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. I was in the kitchen preparing dinner, when I was told that the president of the U.S. had come on the television. I went into the living room to translate (there was a Spanish-language voice-over) and we learned that George W. Bush had kept his promise to invade Iraq. Over the years I have had many political arguments with my in-laws but I was surprised at how upset they were with the U.S. action. They had already figured out that this president was someone who could not be trusted.
Just like this year, March 19 was a Wednesday. At our Wednesday morning Healing Eucharist, it was decided that instead of people coming up to the altar for prayer and anointing with oil, we came to the altar rail and prayed for peace, prayed that George W. Bush’s heart would be turned from the desire for war to the desire for peace.
Now it’s five years later, and the U.S. is still in Iraq. Rather than being greeted with candy and flowers and as liberators, some 3988 members of the U.S. military are dead, and (according to antiwar.com) some 1,189,173 Iraqis are dead. Water and electricity is still below pre-invasion levels. Christians are being persecuted and killed, Sunnis and Shi’ites continue to fight each other, and things are a mess. We are all aware of the debacle the Bush administration has made of the invasion and occupation.
I am antiwar; I am anti-all-wars. I understand the reasoning behind the invasion of Afghanistan, but I don’t think the situation there will improve with a U.S. presence. What amazes me is how the Iraq war strikes so close to home here in Panamá. Several members of St. Christopher’s Parish have sons in the U.S. military. This is because Panama has been in an economic recession for several years, and there were very few opportunities for young people here, especially young people of Afro-antillanos (West Indian) heritage. One option that several young people have taken is to enlist in the U.S. military. We have four young men at St. Christopher’s presently serving in the U.S. military, and all have served in Iraq. At present, all our young men are home, but several have served repeated tours in Iraq, and one young man has been in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It pains me to give them travel blessing when they head back to Iraq, and I join everyone in rejoicing when they return safely, but it is such a waste to see our young people being used as fodder for the bad foreign policy of the U.S. Early on in the war, I asked one young man who was home to visit for a couple of weeks, what it was like. He told me that it was always bad, but become much worse when George W. Bush said “Bring it on!” It is my impression that these young men do not support this war, but are doing their duty. I know for sure that none of them agree with George W. Bush’s recent comment that “It must be exciting for you...in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger.” I’m sure they would rather be home being romantic with their significant other!
I remember when the White House first started rattling the sabres and talking about invading Iraq, there was talk among some Christians about Thomas Aquinas’ concept of Just War. I dare any theologian to tell me that this Iraqi Occupation meets the criteria of Just War. This is not WWII. This is a vanity war for a person who was too chicken to fight in the war of his own generation. This is an illegal, immoral, occupation of a sovereign nation.
This war has been convenient for the White House and its war against its own citizens. It has given them permission to use practices once considered abhorrent to estadoünidense. Now eavesdropping on U.S. citizens is considered normal. Torture is now an accepted procedure for this administration. The U.S. was once a respected nation, now it is ignored and considered a kind of rogue state.
This war is a waste; a waste of lives, a waste of money, a waste of goodwill, a waste of resources, and a waste of time. These young people could be doing something constructive with their time and talent and resources, but instead they are being used to further a wrong-headed foreign policy. The money being wasted (and stolen!) in this war could be used to improve the lives of U.S. citizens, to build roads and rebuild the areas in Louisiana and Mississippi destroyed by hurricane Katrina, for just one example. This war took Saddam Hussein out of the picture, but it has not improved the lives of Iraqis, in fact, it has made things much worse for the majority of the people. It’s important that we end this war. It’s important that we elect someone to the presidency who will end this war immediately. It’s important that we elect someone willing to prosecute the Bush administration for lying the nation into this war. 3988 lives are 3988 lives too many to be lost to this war. 1,189,173 lives are 1,189,173 too many lives to be lost for the imposition of democracy. Five years are five years too many to be wasted in this foreign policy debacle. Stop the war now.
I See You!
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