By Jack Random
While all eyes were on the unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, our president was comparing the Iraq war to World War II and the Marines were dropping two 500-pound bombs on suspected insurgents on the Iraqi-Syrian border. Iraqis claimed they hit civilians.
Is this what they call “precision bombing”?
If Iraq is World War II, then this was another chapter in the bombing of Dresden.
If you believe in spiritual forces – whether it is karma, the life force, a supreme goddess or an almighty god – then it is not difficult to perceive these events as mother earth’s revenge.
The overhead camera reveals a wide path of destruction, shattered homes, decimated lives, terrified people, rising waters, looting and price gouging, fear and lawlessness.
For a moment, it seemed that the war had come home. Gulfport and Biloxi were reduced to rubble and New Orleans was under siege.
Where was the National Guard as New Orleans was transformed into a third world country, reminiscent of Baghdad after the American liberation? I recalled Donald Rumsfeld’s pronouncement that you had to expect a little looting in a free society.
Meantime, President George W. Bush was in California, addressing yet another subdued military audience, instructing the brave and the dutiful that their cause was noble and supreme – not another Vietnam but another World War II march against fascist imperialism.
Meantime, the National Guard was at the wrong Gulf – the Persian Gulf – when it was needed at home.
The president graciously conceded to cut his vacation short. He would return to Washington with a little detour in the war zone of Louisiana. The Republican governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, went on record asking him to stay away. We need the Guard to protect the nation in a time of need. We do not need a presidential photo op. The president’s job is to reassure the nation, not to interfere in an ongoing rescue mission.
Go back to Crawford, Mr. President. No one still believes that you are anything but a front man, a grade B actor, who refuses to confront a grieving mother before the eyes of the world because the people will perceive what we already know: Cindy Sheehan is more eloquent, more knowledgeable, more compassionate and infinitely more sincere than the supreme commander of the greatest power on earth.
So George the diminutive wishes to invite a comparison of Iraq to World War II. Whom does he think he is kidding? There are parallels but they are not favorable to the current American president. Dubya is no FDR and Saddam Hussein is no Adolph Hitler. He was lured into attacking Kuwait (by cross-drilling, Kuwaiti belligerence and America’s implied consent) and subsequently hammered by the most powerful military force on earth. At the time of war’s inception, he was a threat to no one.
It is time to stop the pretense, the imperial charade. We need our troops at home now. We need the hundreds of billions of dollars we have squandered and continue to squander in a war can never “win” regardless of its resolution. The Iraqis will never yield the oil and they will never accept our military presence. We can only extend the misery, the needless dying and destruction. We have destroyed their nation and we can never make amends.
Bring the soldiers home now when we need them. Accept that the Iraqis must decide the shape and form of their own government. Accept that we cannot possess Iraqi oil and we cannot establish Iraq as an American fortress.
Too many lives have already been lost to the horrors of a failed ideology of conquest. We need the Guard and our resources to provide for our own citizens. We need to join the community of nations not as master but as partner. We need the world to be as one in the coming days of tragedy.
In many horrifying and disturbing ways, Hurricane Katrina has brought the war home. Let us finally be wise enough to recognize the signs.
There are far greater enemies we must confront than petty dictators like Saddam Hussein. We are now confronted with the angry forces of nature. We have pumped the earth, air and water so full of toxic poisons that now we must face the inevitable consequences. We cannot confront them alone.
There is no more time for war and occupations.
It is time for the reckoning.
The sooner we accept the challenge, the better.
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS).