Randall G. Shelden
The names mean nothing to me, of course, since I never met them during their lifetime. Michael D. Acklin, 25 years old, from Louisville, Kentucky; Genaro Acosta, 26, of Fair Oaks, California; Jay Blessing, 23, of Tacoma, Washington; Irving Medina, 22, of Middletown, New York; Michael A. Diraimondo, 22, Specialist, Army; Simi Valley, California; Kimberly A. Voelz, 27, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Nathan W. Nakis, 19, of Corvallis, Oregon.The death toll has now passed the 500 mark since the start of the invasion. They died, not to protect some vague notion of "freedom," nor to rid the world of the "terrorist threat," but to engage in "regime change," or was it "weapons of mass destruction," or was it because Saddam was linked to Osama, or----the reasons matter little at this point, for none of these reasons is valid. An article in the New York Times reported last November that troops will be in Iraq until March 2006. An average of about 50 American soldiers has died each month since the start of this war; more than 2 each day. At this rate, by March 2006, about 1900 will have died and suffered who knows how many serious injuries (missing arms and legs, etc.), which too often is a fate worse than death. A lot of people have compared this to Vietnam. I would agree only in part. At least in Vietnam we were able to see for ourselves some of the horrors of war. Today, with censorship of the news run amok, we don't see it, not even the body bags that are shipped home. And about all we hear from our leaders are stupid statements like "stay the course," "bring 'em on" and "sometimes it is necessary to use violence to fight violent people." The war in Iraq is, of course, more than about oil, for it is part of what Noam Chomsky has appropriately termed the "Imperial Grand Strategy" (as noted in his latest book, "Hegemony or Survival," a term that originated with John Ikenberry in the journal Foreign Affairs just after the “National Security Strategy” was released). This involves the "right" of the US to engage in "preventive war" whenever it feels like it. Such a goal is to prevent any challenge to the "power, position, and prestige of the United States." Actually, these words were not from Cheney, Rumsfeld or any other member of the Bush team, but rather were stated by Dean Acheson in 1963. These general aims go back even further, to the early days of World War II, when high-level planners inside Washington were putting together strategies to use after the war, specifically to engage in "an integrated policy to achieve military and economic supremacy for the United States." One of the principle architects of such a "grand design" was George Kennan who wrote a document known as "Policy Planning Study 23" in 1948 (once classified and thus kept from the general public until recently). One part of the documents reads as follows: "We have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of the population...In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity." There will be no room for "sentimentality," Kennan writes, and we should dispense with such vague notions as "human rights" and democracy. But we should not tell the public what our goals are and instead shower them with "idealistic slogans."
This originally appeared in the Las Vegas Mercury, January 22, 2004 www.lasvegasmercury.com and reprinted in http://www.antiwar.com.Update (March 22, 204): The number of Americans killed is now 583. Over the weekend the one year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq was marked with protests all over the world. Is there no end in sight? An estimated $107.5 billion has been spent on this war. This is enough to provide 10.8 million children one year of Head Start, enough to insure almost 33 million children for one year, hire 1.4 million teachers for one year, provide almost 2 million scholarships to college, and build 1 million public housing units (Source: http://www.costofwar.com). Some recent reports indicate that as many as one out of every ten soldiers that have been evacuated to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany has been sent because of mental problems. The hospital has treated 11,754 soldiers from the "war on terror" (9,651 from Iraq and the remainder from Afghanistan). From Michael Moore’s Home Page (March 23, 2004). According to a report from Medact, a British affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), between 21,000 and 55,000 people have died since the invasion of Iraq (Source: http://www.antiwar.com).
Update (April 27, 2008): As of today 4,052 American soldiers have been killed. The costs continue to rise, currently above $500 billion.