Good News? Vote Bush Out
I long for the days of past
when I didn t have to pay so much attention to the news,
when I didn t wake up each morning in dread, wondering who s
dying in Iraq today? or what government scandal
is unraveling now?
Some Americans want the glossy version
of news whether or not it exists. Recently some letters to the
editor across the country have voiced complaints that the media
is too focused on the bad news in Iraq and the Bush Administration s
failings. A Wisconsin newspaper editor (The Post Crescent) went
so far as to ask readers to write more pro-Bush letters. Is this
balanced reporting, or is it an attempt to create a false sense
of balance? On balance, the news of late is bad.
The war in Iraq is riddled
with misconceptions that the Bush administration has propagated,
which began with the false claims of Iraqi WMDs. In the months
leading up to the war, the Bush administration was warned by experts
on Middle Eastern affairs that uniting warring fractions in Iraq
might prove to be difficult, if not impossible. Terrorist experts
argued that the war would be a distraction from our task of dismantling
Al Qaida and a drain on our resources. Former UN inspectors in
Iraq said that Iraq was 95% disarmed already and that the 5% of
unaccounted chemical weapons had a shelf life that would have
rendered them useless. Military men were berated for saying that
it would take more troops than those deployed to get the job done,
which has proven to be the case. Even members of Bush s
own party questioned a pre-emptive invasion, and alienating our
allies by aborting the legitimate UN inspection process.
David Brooks, a conservative
columnist for The New York Times, wrote on May 11th in a commentary
titled For Iraqis to Win, the U.S. Must Lose: We went into
Iraq with what, in retrospect, seems like a childish fantasy.
We were going to topple Saddam, establish democracy and hand the
country back to grateful Iraqis. We expected to be universally
admired when it was all over.
Not all of us expected the
results that Brooks describes, but that was the way the Bush Administration
portrayed it to the public. No wonder some Americans are slow
to accept the reality of what is taking place in Iraq. They want
the rhetoric they were promised.
Although Iraq was not involved in the attacks of 9/11 and the
CIA has found no connection between Al Aqaida and Iraq, the Bush
administration s depiction of the war in Iraq as a response
to 9/11 has created confusion in the minds of Americans. Republican
Senator Inhofe displayed this confusion when he responded to the
Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal by questioning why we would care
so much about the treatment of Iraqi prisoners. At a senator hearing,
Inhofe stunned those listening by saying & these prisoners
are murderers, they re terrorists, they re insurgents &
In fact, a recent Red Cross
report, published in the Wall Street Journal, stated that Coalition
military intelligence officers believed that 70 -90% of Iraqi
detainees were mistakenly arrested. The report went on to describe
the sweeping and violent house-to-house arrests of Iraqis made
by U.S. soldiers, along with the abuses inflicted on the Iraqis
after their arrests.
Even Major General Antonio
Taguba, who led the Army s investigation into the prison
abuse scandal, concluded that while there were common criminals
at the prison, there were probably no detainees linked to Al Qaida
or other terrorists groups there. Senator Inhofe s presumptions
that the prisoners deserved their abuse, even though they haven t
been tried or convicted of any crimes, parallel the Bush administration s
shoot first, ask questions later policies.
Adding further insult to
injury, Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio talk show host, incredulously
defended the U.S. soldiers accused of the abuses by characterizing
them as boys and girls &having some fun &letting
off steam. Limbaugh s words seem wildly out of touch
considering that General Taguba s findings, which were completed
in March and first appeared in the New Yorker, referred to the
prison abuses as numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant,
and wanton criminal abuses, and concluded that they were
systematic and illegal. Later reports revealed that
the abuses ranged from humiliation and torture &to rape and
At a May 13th Armed Services
hearing on the prison abuses, Democrat Senator Reed asked the
vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Pace, a pointed
question: If a foreign nation held a U.S. Marine in a cell,
naked with a bag over his head, squatting with his arms uplifted
for 45 minutes, would that be a good interrogation technique or
a Geneva Convention violation? I would describe it as a
violation, sir, replied General Pace.
Another misconception being perpetrated by the Bush administration
is that the war in Iraq was a humanitarian intervention. Yet there
was no current mass killing or ethnic cleansing in Iraq
such as there was in the Balkans when the U.S. intervened there
to justify the urgency of the invasion. In fact, when
the Bush administration cites Saddam s mass graves and the
gassing of his own people, as part of their rationale for war,
they are referring to events that happened between 1983-1991 when
we were either supporting and helping to arm the brutal dictator
or looking the other way. Why didn t we care that he was
a brutal dictator then?
Do the Americans who want to see more news stories about the schools
and electric facilities we are building in Iraq, forget that we
are re-building what we are largely responsible for destroying?
Do they think it s the job of the U.S. to impose democracy
on dictatorships around the world? At the cost of over 700 U.
S. soldiers thus far and the Iraqi civilian death toll estimated
at approximately 10,000, if the war in Iraq was a humanitarian
intervention, I have to conclude that it s a colossal failure.
Our government has always had failings and scandals, but the current
ones are at such a price in lives, credibility, and financial
expense as to be off the chart. The decision to launch
the war ignored world opinion and legal precedent. Considering
that, and the legal ambiguity of detainees in Guantanamo Bay,
I m not entirely surprised that soldiers down the chain
of command, following the poor example that their leaders set,
similarly disregarded moral and lawful standards.
If Americans want to read more positive news stories, they should
begin by voting Bush out in November. Although it will be a great
challenge for whoever inherits what the Bush presidency has created,
I am hopeful that a change in leadership will be a first step
in the right direction.
The above was published in
May 2004 by CommonDreams.org, The New River Free Press, and The
To read more political
commentaries by Colleen Redman, visit the following links: