This past Monday was Memorial Day, a day to honour America’s Einherjar – the brave men and women who chose the lives of warriors and were called to their ultimate destiny as a result. They are rightly considered heroes.
Memorial day should also be a time for reflection – and for making sure that the Einherjar have not had their lives taken by wars that are fought for ill purpose, or are predicated on lies, half-truths, “bad” information or are otherwise decitful. In choosing the life of a warrior, these people are saying they consider the good of the nation to be of higher value than that of their own lives, and they then put their lives into the hands of our government leaders. Those leaders have an obligation to use those lives carefully – not just to “send a message” or prove how tough America is.
Yes, getting rid of Saddam Hussein is a good thing. He was an evil man and he treated his own people horribly. There is no question about this. Yet that isn’t why we fought this latest war. As has been noted by many others as well, if getting rid of evil dictators were sufficient justification for war, there are many other who deserve the same treatment, in many countries around the world, yet we aren’t going after them. And while we may have succeeded in getting rid of Saddam, as Senator Robert Byrd noted, we have hardly brought the Iraqi’s anything resembling “liberation”:
What makes me cringe even more is the continued claim that we are “liberators.” The facts don’t seem to support the label we have so euphemistically attached to ourselves. True, we have unseated a brutal, despicable despot, but “liberation” implies the follow-up of freedom, self-determination and a better life for the common people. In fact, if the situation in Iraq is the result of liberation, we may have set the cause of freedom back 200 years. Despite our high-blown claims of a better life for the Iraqi people, water is scarce and often foul, electricity is a sometime thing, food is in short supply, hospitals are stacked with the wounded and maimed, historic treasures of the region and of the Iraqi people have been looted, and nuclear material may have been disseminated to heaven knows where, while US troops, on orders, looked on and guarded the oil supply. Meanwhile, lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure and refurbish its oil industry are awarded to Administration cronies, without benefit of competitive bidding, and the United States steadfastly resists offers of UN assistance to participate. Is there any wonder that the real motives of the US government are the subject of worldwide speculation and mistrust?
No, the war in Iraq was fought because we were told Saddam was more than just an evil dictator who treated his own people horribly. We were told he was an immediate threat to the US – that he had thousands of gallons of biological and chemical weapons and was pursuing nuclear weapons as well. It was because of these weapons – and the liklihood Saddam would give them to al-Qeada – that was the justification for killing not only hundreds, if not thousands of Iraqi citizens, but which also took the lives of our soldiers – adding them to the ranks of America’s Einherjar.
Many in America seem to think that it’s no big deal if we never find these weapons or any evidence of their existance. They accuse those who opposed the war – and who still feel the war was wrong – of not being “patriotic” or of not supporting our soldiers. Yet it is their own attitude that dishonours the memory of our Einherjar, by trying to cover up the fact that they died in a war that – when judged by the reasons offered to us prior to the start of the war – has not been shown to have been justified. The weapons that made Saddam such an immediate threat have not yet been found, and unless they are, the lives of those soldiers were sacrified in vain.
What’s worse, the Pentagon is now talking about possible “regime change” in Iran, and the same people who told us that there was no question that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction are now telling us “[T]here’s no question but that there have been and are today senior al-Qaida leaders in Iran, and they are busy.“
The Pentagon has proposed a policy of regime change in Iran, after reports that al-Qaida leaders are coordinating terrorist attacks from Iran.
But the plan is opposed by the US state department and the British government, officials in Washington said yesterday.
The Pentagon plan would involve overt means, such as anti-government broadcasts transmitted to Iran, and covert means, possibly including support for the Iraq-based armed opposition movement Mojahedin Khalq (MEK), even though it is designated a terrorist group by the state department.
The state department and Britain have objected to the plan, saying that it would backfire, undermining the moderates around President Mohamed Khatami.
We cannot allow this administration to make more Einherjar without first demanding unquestionable proof that, if al-Qeada are active in Iran, it is with the knowledge and the support of the Iranian government. If our leaders start to make claims about Iran having Saddam’s WMD’s (which they earlier suggested about Syria), we need to demand evidence that those weapons do exist and that they are, indeed, in Iran – again with the government’s knowledge and support. After the debacle in Iraq, we cannot simply take their word for it.
In honour of Memorial Day, let us honour the men and women who are willing to make that great sacrifice for this country by holding our leaders to a higher standard of justification before supporting futher wars (or other military action – regardless of how they choose to term it), and make sure that the war is truly needed, sufficiently warranted, and will not result in a worse life for the people who live in whatever country we target next. We owe them at least that much.Powered by Sidelines