Healing Our World: Weekly Comment

By Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D.

Shock and Awe Means Shame and Death

I would like you to know
That we were not all like that.
That some of us spent our lives
Working for Peace
Speaking for animals
Tending the Earth.
And that when you find
The mass graves
And the abattoirs
And the laboratories
Please understand
That we were not all like that.
-- Mary de La Valette

The television and radio network reporters who are “embedded” with U.S. troops that are currently invading Iraq are telling us a lot about the wondrous military might of America. The world has heard a lot about the columns of tanks, cruise missiles, buildings being destroyed, and oil wells, but we have heard little of the human cost. Robert Fisk, in Baghdad for “The Independent,” reported today that one of the first Iraqi casualties was a taxi driver who was blown to pieces in the first American raid on Baghdad yesterday morning.

plane

Air Combat Command's B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber. (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force)
Detailing the first day of the U.S. “Shock and Awe” campaign against Baghdad, Fisk said, “The sheer violence of it, the howl of air raid sirens and the air-cutting fall of the missiles carried its own political message; not just to President Saddam but to the rest of the world. We are the superpower, those explosions said last night. This is how we do business. This is how we take our revenge for 11 September.”

In an invasion that makes one think of the campaigns of the Roman Legion centuries ago, the United States has begun waging war against not only a cruel dictator, but thousands of innocent people, a fragile environment, and the Muslim world.

Where was the might of the U.S. when Hussein gassed over 5,000 of his people in the early 1990s?

And so far, the destructive might of Iraq that the Bush administration has been ranting about for months is nowhere to be seen.

But what we will see, says the British health professional organization Medact, is that as many as 260,000 Iraqis could die immediately from a U.S. attack, while another 200,000 deaths would result from famine and disease. The United Nations fears that an attack would create a flood of 900,000 refugees.

And the world better get used to it.

Bush

President George W. Bush tells the nation that the Iraq war is about to begin, March 18, 2003. (Photo by Paul Morse courtesy The White House)
On September 17, 2002, twenty months after President George W. Bush took office, he released the 33 page "National Security Strategy of the United States." This innocuous document received little media attention, but in its pages are details of how the administration will be conducting a radically new, aggressive approach to national security. This new strategy calls for pre-emptive strikes against hostile states and terror groups, and it states that the U.S. "will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting pre-emptively."

The document also reveals how diplomacy and foreign aid can and should be used to project American values, including "a battle for the future of the Muslim world."

The PBS program “Frontline” discussed this document and its profound ramifications on a program called “The War Behind Closed Doors,” aired earlier this month.

Senator Robert Byrd summed up this new policy in his speech that was delivered on the floor of the U.S. Senate on March 19 at 3:45pm. He said, “Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination. Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves. We proclaim a new doctrine of pre-emption which is understood by few and feared by many. We say that the United States has the right to turn its fire power on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any international body. As a result, the world has become a much more dangerous place.”

In December 2002, another Bush administration report claimed that the U.S. "reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force ... to the use of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] against the U.S., our forces abroad, and friends and allies." Bush administration officials said that the threat of a nuclear first strike did not constitute a policy change.

Millions of people all over the world are protesting the first strike against Iraq for many reasons, but the most compelling list of reasons I have seen is at the “Environmentalists Against War” website.

Details about each reason are given at the website - see link below.

The Corporate Watch website, in a special report released on Thursday, told of a sweet deal between the U.S. Defense Department and Vice President Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton. Corporate Watch says, “As the first bombs rain down on Baghdad, CorpWatch has learned that thousands of employees of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, are working alongside U.S. troops in Kuwait and Turkey under a package deal worth close to a billion dollars. According to U.S Army sources, they are building tent cities and providing logistical support for the war in Iraq in addition to other hot spots in the "war on terrorism."

Cheney

Vice President Dick Cheney works in his West Wing Office Wednesday, March 19, 2003. (Photo by Richard Bohrer courtesy The White House)
The report goes on to say that “Cheney served as chief executive of Halliburton until he stepped down to become George W. Bush's running mate in the 2000 presidential race. Today he still draws compensation of up to a million dollars a year from the company, although his spokesperson denies that the White House helped the company win the contract.”

Bill Berkowitz, in a piece written for the Working for Change website on March 19, predicted the intense pressure that has begun to attempt to silence the anti-war movement. Berkowitz said, “If massive protests continue after U.S. bombs start pounding Iraq, expect the anti-war movement to be lambasted by President Bush's pro-war minions. Radio and television pundits will crank up the volume, labeling protests un-patriotic and anti-American.

Some may equate dissent with treason. Expect long-winded one-sided debates on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN focusing on the nature of treason.” He called it exactly.

He went on to say, “Over the past few months, as the US moved closer to war, pro-war columnists and radio and television gas bags began a campaign to demonize protesters, labeling them anti-American, Communists, or apologists for Hussein.” Berkowitz says “Silence will be our biggest enemy.”

Don’t let the pundits and war mongers silence you. And don’t be intimidated by the cries of “support our troops” from the families of soldiers. What else can they say when a loved one is forced to go and kill people who they don’t even know and risk death every day. These families have to believe that they are being sent for the right reasons. Any other possibility would be too painful for them to bear. But do remind them that those people being shot and bombed aren’t much different from the enlisted U.S. soldier just doing what they are told. And remind them also that ending war is the best way to support the troops.

A democratic way of life demands that we speak out, especially in times of turmoil and war. The U.S. “Constitution” and “Bill of Rights” do not say that free speech is only allowed in peacetime. Seek the truth always, expose atrocities. Wear your values proudly and don’t be intimidated by those who hold violence dear.

Wanting peace is NOT unpatriotic.

RESOURCES

1. See the “Frontline” report on the new U.S. world doctrine at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/iraq/themes/

2. Visit the Environmentalists Against War website at: http://www.EnvirosAgainstWar.org

3. See the full text of Senator Byrd’s speech at http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0319-04.htm

4. Visit the Non-violence Web at: http://www.nonviolence.org/

5. Find out who your elected representatives are and contact them. Tell them George W. Bush and his oilmen must be stopped and we must begin waging peace now. You can find them at: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ziptoit.asp

6. Keep track of worldwide anti-war protests at: http://www.protest.net/iraq_action_digest_dec_3.asp

7. Visit Citizens Concerned for the People of Iraq at: http://www.scn.org/ccpi/

8. Read about the cancers and birth defects in the children of Iraq from the radioactive material left by the U.S. after the 1991 bombing at: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/95178_du12.shtml

9. For international activism information, visit: http://flag.blackened.net/agony/links.asp for a listing of worldwide sites.

10. Visit the American Friends Service Committee and see their worldwide programs for peace at: http://www.afsc.org/

{Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D. is a writer and teacher in Seattle and the author of "Healing Our World", A Journey from the Darkness Into the Light," available at: http://www.xlibris.com/HealingOurWorld.asp or your local bookstore. His new book of photographs and thoughts on interconnectedness, “Of This Earth, Reflections on Connections,” is now available. Learn about it at: http://ofthisearth.org. Please send your thoughts, comments, and visions to him at: jackie@healingourworld.com and visit his website at: http://www.healingourworld.com}