To: "Jerry Lobdill" <email@example.com>,
Subject: [money-ethics] It's about OIL, stupid
What are Americans dying for now?
By Derrick Z. Jackson
Wednesday 18 June 2003
OIL IS TO DIE for. More to the point, oil is precious enough for the government to send off your children, your husbands, your wives, your partners, your brothers, and your sisters to die for. That is a rapidly escalating conclusion as American soldiers continue to die at the rate of one a day in Iraq without [a single weapon of mass] destruction having [sic] been found. What we do have are sniper shootings, grenade attacks, and the deaths of nearly 50 US soldiers 48 days after Bush said major combat operations were over in Iraq.
On May 1, Bush said, ''We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated.''
Seven weeks later and with no vile vials in hand, Bush gave a speech Monday in Elizabeth, N.J., where he did not make a single reference to weapons of mass destruction. Instead, Bush chose to distract Americans from his Nixonian erasing of his justification for war by criticizing his critics as ''revisionist historians.''
Meanwhile, Bush's fellow Republicans in Congress were suppressing history by fighting any formal investigation into the possible cooking of intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Their job, for the time being is being made a piece of cake by a Democratic Party that cannot spell the term ''opposition party'' if you spotted them all the o's and p's.
As the Republicans sit on the intelligence, as Democrats sit on their thumbs, and as Americans plan summer vacations depending on the cheapest gasoline for the biggest cars in the world, our soldiers - many of them teenagers - are halfway around the world, taking bullets for a mission that is rapidly losing meaning - at least the stated meaning.
Oh, yes, a lot of angry e-mails attempt to remind us ''revisionist historians'' that the current absence of weapons of mass destruction really does not matter because the mass graves of Iraqis who were brutally murdered by Saddam proves the humanitarian aspect of the invasion was still worth it. That does not hold up.
We went to Somalia a decade ago for what was supposed to be a humanitarian mission, after 300,000 people died in war and starvation. We fled within months of a failed raid by Army Rangers that ended in the deaths of 18 soldiers and the searing photographs of the corpse of a US soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.
Back then, the call for the United States to get out of Somalia was stunningly bipartisan. Since the White House was then occupied by a Democrat, Bill Clinton, it was no surprise that Republicans leaped on the sad turn of events, with Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico saying, ''We can't continue in that quagmire.'' Then-congresswoman Olympia Snowe of Maine, now a senator, said, ''I cannot express my disgust at watching on television the treatment of our soldiers.... There really isn't a reason for the US to be in Somalia now.''
The criticism was just as blunt from many Democrats. ''If you asked all 535 members of Congress today, almost all of them would say let's get out of Somalia now,'' said Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.
''More and more senators are saying, `We gave them food, we gave them medicine, and now they're shooting at us. Let's get out,''' said Senator John Breaux of Louisiana.
Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey said, ''I think we ought to leave now.'' Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia said, ''Americans by the dozens are paying with their lives and limbs for a misplaced policy.... Let's vote and get out.''
When it came to Somalia, Dole asked: ''What is our purpose? What is the cost? And how long do we stay?'' A decade later, the same question should apply. In the Iraq invasion we lost 139 soldiers, according to the Pentagon, while 3,240 Iraqi civilians had died as of the most recent counting by the Associated Press. The AP said the final toll is sure to be much higher. Now, nearly another 50 soldiers have died in nebulous situations that range from justifiable self-defense to dubious overreactions more reminiscent of the shootings of American students and rioters by National Guardsmen in the 1960s.
On May 1, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that ''one of the most successful military campaigns ever waged'' displayed to the world ''a new American way of war.'' The new American way is already dissolving into a disgusting result that has grown old in the half-century after World War II - a quagmire. It is about time to ask why we accept a quagmire for Iraq when we would not do it for Somalia.
Without the weapons of mass destruction, it has to be for the oil.