I am so glad you brought up my ongoing attention to the human toll we pay for this unjust war. I thank you for your service and respectfully ask that you not assume you know my feelings. I am appalled that these women and men have died and no one is giving them proper dedication for their service. In Viet Nam the remains of soldiers were brought back with the respect and mourning. Their flag draped coffins reminded us daily of how much we lose to war. Bush, in a disrespectful shun of their service, chooses to hide their remains from our eyes so we do not know how many people have been lost. This was a decision he and Cheney made long before the war even began.
If you asked me, each soldier who dies on foreign soil should have a quarter page memorial dedicated to them in the Washington Post, New York Times, and USA Today. I don’t understand how the lives of the 30 people killed at Virginia Tech, who did receive such dedications, are more important that of our soldiers. So, if you see naming the dead as disrespectful because of our political affiliation, I am sorry but I will not stop. I have too much respect for their sacrifice not to name them. I am almost brought to tears when I think of the families of these people; of the thoughts and feelings that went through their heads before they left this earth; of the futures they will never have because they made the ultimate sacrifice for my future under false pretenses.
I talk to Vets who share my feelings about the war on a daily basis. Some are upset about the Stop-loss program that forces enlisted people to re-enlist for cash, be sent back to war under duress, or go to the brig. They describe it as a backdoor draft. One solider whom I am very close to broke into tears when he told me how sad he has been since returning. He said he went to war and lost friends because he was told it was necessary. He trusted in the system of the military and in the wisdom of his commander and chief. Having returned and heard that commander and chief manipulating the truth and abandoning the original mission of the war (this soldier believed he was going to stop the spread of WMD’s) – he became much disenfranchised. He is still a successful officer but suffers greatly with emotional issues and alcoholism. I only wish I could list the number of our soldiers who return from war and we leave alone to self destruct. They will be the true test of our VA system.
I know I cannot convince many of you the total and raw pain I feel writing about this war. Not just the loss of soldiers but the loss of Iraqi’s, the loss of a peaceful future for the next generation, the loss of our international reputation that will, for generations, have a negative affect on our stability and prosperity. But JJ, I feel it. I feel raw pain because I know there are millions upon millions of people in so much more pain than me resultant of this war. I cannot have this venue and not use it to expose that pain in its most raw form: names.
I am sorry I have not abbreviated the ranks correctly — please be kind enough to correct my mistake. Below is the latest Iraq toll:
Those who died in Iraq from Aug 19 to 25:
Cap Michael Fielder 35 Holly Springs NC
Pvt Donovan Witham 20 Malvern AR
Sgt Sandy Britt 30 Apopka FL
Cpl Nathan Hubbard 21 Clovis CA
Cpl Joshua Harmon 20 Mentor OH
Spc Michael Hook 25 Altona PA
Cpl Philip Brodnick 25 New Lenox IL
Spc Jessy Pollard 22 Springfield MO
Sgt Garrett McLead 23 Rockport TX
Sgt Jason Paton 25 Poway CA
Cap Derek Dobogal 26 Fond du Lac WI
Spc Tyler Seideman 20 Lincoln AR
Cpl Jeremy Bouffard 21 Middlefield MA
Spc Rickey Bell 21 Caruthersville MO
Cap Corry Tyler 29 Georgia
CWO Paul Flynn 28 Whitsett NC
Sgt Matthew Tallman 30 Groveland CA
Pvt Omar Torre 20 Chicago IL
Pvt Edgar Cardenas 34 Lilburn GA
Sgt Adrian Elizalde 30 North Bend IN
Sgt Michael Tully 33 Falls Creek PA
Sgt Henry Heringes 36 Tampa FL
Cpl Matthew Medlicott 21 Houston TX
43 were seriously wounded and maimed.
54 wounded were returned to occupation.
360 Iraqis brothers and sisters were killed.
Those who died in Iraq from Aug 12 to 18:
Sgt Alicia Birchett 29 Mashpee MA
Sgt Andrew Lancaster 23 Stocton IL
Sgt Scot Kirkpatrick 26 Reston VA
Sgt William Scates 31 Oklahoma City OK
Spc Alun Howells 20 Parlin CO
Pvt Paulomarko Pacificador 24 Shirley NY
Pvt Juan Lopez Jr 23 San Antonio TX
Sgt Eric Cottrell 39 Pittsview AL
Pvt Shawn Henzel 20 Logansport IN
Spc Stephen Jewell 26 Bridgeton NC
Sgt Stanley Reynolds 37 Rock WV
Sgt Sean Fisher 29 Santee CA
CWO Jackie McFarlane Jr 30 Virginia Beach VA
CW Christopher Johnson 31 Grand Rapids MI
Spc Zandra Walker 28 Greenville SC
Sgt Princess Samuels 22 Mitchellville MD
Sgt Robert Pirelli 29 Franklin MA
Spc Kamisha Block 20 Vidor TX
Sgt Paul Norris 30 Cullman TX
Pvt Willard Kerchief III 21 Evansville IN
Ltn Jonathan Edds 24 White Pigeon MI
30 were seriously wounded and maimed.
100 were retuned to kill fields.
626 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.
Those who died in Iraq from Aug 5 to 11:
Spc Daniel Reyes 25 SanDiego CA
Sgt Bradley Marshall 37 Little Rock AR
Spc Charles Leonard Jr 29 Monroe LA
Sgt Joey Link 29 Portland TN
Spc Justin Blackwell 27 Paris TN
Pvt Jeremy Bohannon 18 Bon Aqua TN
Spc Kareem Khan 20 Manahawkin NJ
Cpl Juan Alcantara 22 New York
Sgt Nicholas Gummersall 23 Chubbuck ID
Sgt Jacob Thompson 26 No Mankato MN
Spc Christopher Neiberger 22 Gainesville FL
Pvt Craig Barber 20 Ogmore Vale UK
Sgt Jon Bonnell Jr 22 Fort Dodge IA
Air Martin Beard 20 Rainworth UK
Cpl Reynold Armand 21 Rochester NY
Spc Donald Young Helena MT
Sgt Michael Tayaotao 27 Sunnyvale CA
Cpl Chris Casey 27 London UK
Cpl Kirk Redbath 22 Romford UK
Sgt Joan Duran 24 Roxbury MA
Pvt William Edwards 23 Houston TX
Spc Justin Penrod 24 Danville IL
87 were seriously wounded and maimed.
88 wounded were returned to killing fields.
420 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.
The Washington Post printed a Peace Action West letter in response to last week’s article about the “failure” of diplomacy with Iran:
Regarding the Aug. 9 news story “In the Debate Over Iran, More Calls for a Tougher U.S. Stance”:
The article’s reference to the “failure of carrot-and-stick diplomacy to block Tehran’s nuclear and regional ambitions” falsely implied that the Bush administration has pursued and exhausted constructive diplomatic options with Iran. A serious diplomatic effort would involve talking directly with the Iranian government without preconditions, which this administration has refused to do. The administration also undermines the ability to engage in productive dialogue through hostile rhetoric and saber-rattling.
It is clear that military action against Iran would be disastrous and that it would probably accelerate any attempts by the Iranian government to pursue nuclear technology. It should also be clear that pragmatic, sustained diplomatic efforts have succeeded in the past and are our only hope for resolving tensions with Iran.
Peace Action West
Earlier on this blog I commented on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s attack on Sen. Barrak Obama and his stance on nuclear weapons. Frankly, I believe (like many of you) that neither candidate has fully accepted a progressive platform. What strikes me though is the inconsistency with which they (all politicians) conduct their campaigns.
A recent article by the Boston Globe elaborates on Clinton’s stance on nuclear weapons – just a year ago she said nukes were ‘off the table’ for dealing with Iran. Not only are these candidates inconsistent but their constant threats of military action on states like Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan only reinforce the Bush administration’s assessment that they are part of a falsely constructed ‘axis of evil’. I am almost hesitant to criticize the top Democratic candidates because I would rather be condemning candidates like Giuliani, McCain, Romney, and Brownback whose platforms are so far from my ideals. But, if I cannot look to either party to find my values I must keep pressure on those candidates who most closely reflect them.
Related to this is a recent paper published in the Atlantic Monthly. The paper presented a cogent argument that China was a more significant threat to the U.S. than any Arab nation. That if we were to use nuclear weapons, unlike most politicians would like you to believe, they would be used on China. This was not a political paper – it was written by a professor and a former DOD official. It lays out the tactical plan, the devastation, and the potential fallout (political and securities focused fallout) of a nuclear strike. As an activist, for me, the underling issue is clear. Nothing good can come from any nuclear attack from the U.S. or any other state in this world. It only brings destruction.
Senator Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican, and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agrees. He has been a vocal advocate for the collection and destruction of fissile materials throughout his terms in office; passing the Nunn-Lugar bill to focus this work in the Former Soviet Union. He recently wrote a commentary on the success of this program. We can achieve nuclear abolition if we continue to understand and communicate the devastating implications of nuclear war.
Do you agree? Is there ever a reason to use nuclear weapons? Vote in Parade Magazine’s poll on this subject, here.
Barack Obama’s statement, last Thursday, that he would not use nuclear weapons “in any circumstance” to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and drew criticism from chief rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and accolades from anti-nuclear activists.
It appears Sen. Obama is the only leading Presidential candidate who is willing to consider the multifaceted implications of a foreign policy where ‘all options’ are on the table.
During the Cold War the U.S. public was intimately aware of the threat nuclear war posed to the country and the world. While the bombs have become more powerful the country has become more complacent about our leaders threatening their use. It is a shame that in all the rhetoric condemning or applauding Obama’s statement no one has questioned the destructive position of Clinton and the other candidates.
Nuclear weapons are never an acceptable form of force, but especially in this circumstance would be devastating to our world and to our national security – moreover, they would be ineffectual in their purpose.
Nuclear weapons cannot weed terrorists out of the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nuclear weapons are designed to decimate a region or country – they have no purpose but to kill civilians for years after the initial explosion with cancer and birth defects. By definition, their use is in itself is a terrorist act because they so specifically target civilians. Our threats of a ‘nuclear option’ only further inflame a difficult diplomatic situation in the Middle East and radicalize new terrorist recruits.
Those candidates who would not take the nuclear option off the table are callus and arrogant – preferring to placate to the minority of the country who support the Bush administration than to stand up for a new direction in U.S. foreign policy. They are
naïve for believing the nuclear option should ever be on the table.