it’s time to stop it…

Posted on Monday 29 May 2006

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
      In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

John McCrae 1915

Here in Georgia, there’s a guy who works in a jewelry store who probably read this poem in English class like all of us. If he gets on the Internet, he can read about himself. He can read that he had a normal childhood. He can read that once he got into the military, he was a bad commander, disliked by his men. He can read about himself described as a "monster." In the 1970’s, he became a symbol for the atrocities of war. I wonder what William Calley [My Lai, Viet Nam] thinks about the story of Marines massacring civilians in Haditha, Iraq?

In wartime, the line between soldiers and civilians is much finer than we think, even in situations where you can tell the difference [which you can’t do in Iraq, or couldn’t do in Viet Nam]. So, when something like this happens [Haditha, My Lai, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo], civilians polarize quickly. "They’re murderers" or "They have P.T.S.D." "They were untrained" or "We trained them to kill." Truth is, we don’t know how to think about it. We can’t know how to think about it.

I think, in this case, what we need to feel is that our leaders didn’t think about it. They have left our children in a Middle Eastern desert for three  and half years, in circumstances our leaders ignored. Now our children are going crazy, acting like their adversaries, who have also become insane. They are civilians, the ones who trumped up the reasons for us to get into this war. They never really thought about the human cost of what they were doing. They never thought of the moral cost of what they were suggesting. They never really thought about our Constitutional government, or our history, or our previouis mistakes. They sat in their offices at P.N.A.C. and said this in 1998 in a letter to President Clinton:

January 26, 1998

The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War.  In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat.  We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world.  That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power.  We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months.  As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections.  Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished.  Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons production.  The lengthy period during which the inspectors will have been unable to enter many Iraqi facilities has made it even less likely that they will be able to uncover all of Saddam’s secrets.  As a result, in the not-too-distant future we will be unable to determine with any reasonable level of confidence whether Iraq does or does not possess such weapons.

Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East.  It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard.  As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.

Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration’s attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.


Elliott Abrams    Richard L. Armitage    William J. Bennett

Jeffrey Bergner    John Bolton    Paula Dobriansky

Francis Fukuyama    Robert Kagan    Zalmay Khalilzad

William Kristol    Richard Perle    Peter W. Rodman

Donald Rumsfeld    William Schneider, Jr.    Vin Weber

Paul Wolfowitz    R. James Woolsey    Robert B. Zoellick

They called it a "regime change." Clinton ignored them, but then they were wisked into office when an incompetent and unprincipled President got himself elected. They used the attack on September 11, 2001 to justify putting the "regime change" into action, ignoring the real threat from Al Qaeda. And they did it by making up Intelligence about Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. So we won it in weeks, and have spent years and countless lives paying for it. Some of our soldiers have gone insane, and will pay for the rest of their lives – lives already ruined by their leaders’ folly. And they still call it a "regime change."

It’s time to stop it!

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Siegfried Sassoon 1917

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