Anniversaries are forced remembrances of events our busy lives otherwise leave forgotten. Past events rush forward through time to spend one day with us in the present, incessantly tapping our shoulders and asking: Remember me? Remember what happened on my day, and what has happened since because of me?
The fourth anniversary of the aerial “shock and awe” campaign that launched the U.S led war on Iraq will tap our shoulders this month. It will remind us that a fifth year of war stands raving and eager to follow the same terrible path down which this country has been misled for four. War, such as it is, always stands ready and willing, always prepared to gather up its victims from the land of the living, and set them down in their early graves.
hroughout history, leaders have glorified wars and given them justification. History is filled with such figures, and with nations that to their sorrow put their faith in them. Just such a figure is George Bush.
Four years ago George Bush started a war of choice against Iraq in the middle of a war of necessity against al-Qaeda. And all for what cause? All justifications for his war have proven vacuous, save that Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant. While you never want to say of brave young men and women that they died because of arrogance and willful ignorance, what else did they die for?
George’s war has been a war born of lies and half-truths, sustained by lies and half-truths, and productive of more lies and half-truths every day it continues. His has been a war which in its origins and conduct was and remains a colossal and blood-drenched fraud. Were we even to be generous, and give George the benefit of the doubt by allowing that in his “gut” going to war was the right thing, the tragedy remains that many thousands have died for a war waged on little more than a hunch and a grudge.
This war was not thrust upon us – George Bush chose it for us. Rather than fighting the terrorists in the mountains of Afghanistan, George went looking for them in the sands of Iraq. Rather than finding the chief culprit of September 11, George rode off in search of windmills named “evil” and “darkness”. Rather than chasing bin Laden to the ends of the earth, George decided instead to chase our nation’s fortune into the mouth of an omnivorous and never-ending war.
George’s war “against terror” has produced far more terrorists than it has eliminated, to say nothing of the terror it has, in fact, caused millions of everyday Iraqis young and old. His war has been a recruiting sergeant for the very forces he set out to destroy. His war to “fight them there, so we don’t have to fight them here” has, in fact, greatly increased the likelihood we’ll someday fight them here.
George’s war has cost thousands of young Americans, and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, their lives and limbs. His war has sapped our military, our credibility, our economy, our morale, and our moral standing. His war has alienated us from the world, and set our country on a path which continues to dismay our dwindling friends and delight our growing enemies.
Bad as all this, perhaps worse is that George’s war has proven once again that force and right are not always on the same side. His war to “bring democracy” to the Muslim world on Abrams tanks has instead led a billion Muslims to believe that democracy and liberty are synonymous with invasion and occupation, and the abuse and death of prisoners. George’s gift of democracy delivered by a gun has converted a people into enemies possessed of a hatred which may take centuries to erase.
And as if all this weren't more than enough, George would now have us believe that a festering and fearsome new menace lies lurking just beyond the border from where surging numbers of our brave young men and women are making enormous progress in guiding liberty and freedom along a flower-strewn supply line to a grateful and emancipated nation.
But the upcoming anniversary of George's War is already urgently tapping our shoulders, begging us to remember all that thus far has passed, lest some time next year we'll be forced to remember the first anniversary of George's World War.
Todd Huffman is a pediatrician and writer living in Eugene, Oregon. Comments are welcomed at: email@example.com.