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25 March 2013

Iraq war: Two letters, a decade apart

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No matter how you look at it, the Iraq invasion engineered by the Bush administration ruined a country and spilled the blood of innocents, all to satisfy a megalomaniac US president who had lost touch with reality

By Tariq A. Al Maeena

A decade ago, in the days preceding the impending attack on Iraq, I penned an open letter to the US president at the time, George W. Bush. In it, I implored him to reconsider the war plans being drawn up for the invasion of a country that had nothing to do with the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The excerpted version goes as follows: “Dear Mr Bush. My conscience compels me to write this to you. Shortly after you were elected, a heinous crime took place on your shores. In your quest to stamp out terrorism, you bombed Afghanistan. And when that failed to capture the alleged mastermind of September 11 you elected to alarm your constituents into believing that Al Qaida was freely operating all over Iraq. When that claim drew a challenging reaction not only in your country but from around the world, the people of the United States were suddenly confronted with an ominous threat: Weapons of mass destruction!

“You took your case to the United Nations. There were even some menacing samples of such weaponry presented to the world body to back your assertion that Iraq was preparing for a massive onslaught on your country. And you drew concessions from the UN to sanction detailed inspections of Iraq’s offensive machinery.

“The inspectors have been poring over Iraq for some months now. There have been no smoking guns located yet. Nothing capable of remotely striking US interests either in the US or in bordering regions around Iraq. Meanwhile, you collared the ever-obedient Tony Blair into trotting forth and marketing your doomsday scenario at the hands of the Iraqis.

“Your Pentagon generals, we are told, would employ the strategy of raining down ten time the bombs on Iraq in the opening hours than was used in the Gulf War back in 1991. A ‘shock and awe’ punch meant to maximise damage and demolition; a showering inferno over innocent people who had absolutely nothing to do with that dreadful day on September 11.

“You may lead your public to believe that your God-fearing virtues are the reason behind this determination to take war to the Iraqi people. So who would really suffer and die? Nameless and faceless people to the media circus preparing to cover this latest spectacle, but victims nonetheless whose memories will forever be etched painfully in the minds of their loved ones.
“Turn towards your family for a moment, Mr Bush. Would you welcome any acts of aggression towards Laura or your daughters, carried out under the condescending pretensions of saving humanity? Or is it your belief that while an American life is significant and worthy, all others are considered not?

“I fervently hope that deep down in your soul, the morality of this impending aggression has given rise to conflicting seeds of doubt; that giving peace a chance, and inspectors more time to do their jobs is the honourable thing to do.

“If ever there is a time to act like a righteous and God-fearing Christian you claim to be, now would be the right time to take the bold step of reducing the tensions your policies have given rise to in so many regions of the world. Pause and consider the loss of innocent lives. Now would be the time to prove that the United States of America is indeed a beacon of liberty and hope not just to its own people, but to the rest of the world.

“Thank you, Tariq Al Maeena.”

Ten years later, Tomas Young, a dying young US soldier who served in the war against Iraq wrote the following letter titled ‘A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a Dying Veteran’.

“I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

“I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters. I write this letter on behalf of the some one million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all — the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

“I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr Bush and Mr Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

“You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

“You, Mr Bush, make much pretence of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

“My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness. Tomas Young.”

Tragic, isn’t it?

[Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. You can follow him at www.twitter.com/@talmaeena]

(Courtesy: Gulf News)

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