Thursday, April 3, 2003
For those of us who cannot understand the motivation behind this war in Iraq, waged despite all of the domestic and international opposition and collateral economic and political damage, let me share some information. In 1997, an organization called “Project for the New American Century” was formed. Its founding members include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush and many more extremely powerful individuals. Some of the objectives stated by this group include “... to make the case and rally support for American global leadership,” and “... to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values.” They blatently espouse a policy of international interference in order to secure American military and economic domination over the world. But please do not take my word for it. Just review the “statement of principles” at the web site www.newamericancentury.org.
It may be the most disturbing thing you will ever read.
Bring troops home
It is unfortunate that our leaders, who tell us that a shift in strategy is an expected outcome of war, did not have the same attitude towards diplomacy. Progress was being made with weapons inspections, but our game plan was to go to war so that’s what we did. We can argue about intentions, but whether for oil, democracy or the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, the end result will be the deaths of many and the escalation of the terrorist threat. Even if we meant to do great good, the perception of much of the world does not reflect that intention. The United States is seen as a bully who is willing to defy international will and perhaps even international law in order to have its way with the world. Retaliation seems inevitable. Our great power has led to destructive arrogance. Now men, women and children are losing their lives in an engagement that is of uncertain necessity and questionable value. Yes, we absolutely must support our troops. Perhaps the best way to do so is to bring them home safely and to change the “game plan” that views their deployment as the answer to our international challenges.
In this time of turmoil and uncertainty, it is even more important that we support one another. Compiling just the titles of letters from the Hood River News, Wednesday, March 26:
Show Respect: something we as humans should be giving to one another as habit from the time we are infants. Regardless of outward circumstances, we all need to respect each other because we are all members of the human race.
Support youth: A chance to act on a very local level to help our youth become better global citizens. Why doesn’t our community use some of its available resources to establish a youth/community center? Remember how wonderful it was getting the Children’s Park going?
Grand delusions: Often brought about by not having enough information. There is very rarely just one side or angle to any given situation. A little bit of new information can go a long way with just a little time and effort on a person’s part. We have a great library and staff.
Support our troops: Is there anyone who truly doesn’t? As fellow humans, few of us would support placing young women and men in intentional harm’s way. Back again to the respect issue.
Take on Saddam: I can only speak for myself in true certainty and say that I do not support the atrocities perpetrated by a tyrant like Saddam Hussein.
Down on protest: In many ways, isn’t this part of why we are where we are? Our country seemingly prides itself in allowing free expression without retribution, and we are willing to cross into foreign soils to achieve this concept. Are we not out to free the oppressed? By oppressing each other instead of holding dialogue runs the risk of hypocrisy.
Buy American: Doesn’t that seem logical? Learning to become more self reliant and to help stimulate economics in our country and community, we need to support businesses closer to our community.
Saddam is a threat: Isn’t it amazing that the power of one person seems to have affected so many others? To think that so much energy and money and lives are all being sacrificed because of one person! How is that possible?
I am not the person to answer such a question. I have a sense as I stand among fellow community members that includes: physicians, nurses, journalists, farmers, lawyers, home health workers, business owners, city employees, county employees, veterans, clergy, retirees, realtors, musicians, athletes, grandparents, parents, students, and blessedly, children, that we are there because none of us has the answer either. Please don’t label us as unpatriotic. We are anything but. What “we” are, are fellow humans and vital co-community members who need to try and respect our commonalities and talk with each other. Many of us are fully aware of the uniqueness of Freedom we exercise in this country having traveled to various third world areas.
The 16th Century Frenchman Montaigne once said, “Contradictions of opinion, therefore, neither offend nor estrange me; they only arouse and exercise my mind ...”
A footnote to the front page photo of same date paper. After spending about five hours standing around with Bob Snyder the day after the photo was taken, a few of us left as friends with handshakes and back patting, and a new perspective on several things. The opportunity to dialogue was well worth the efforts of all the participants.
The war on Iraq is costing us $763,000 a minute. That’s $1.1 billion dollars per day. Who do you think is profiting from this war? Who is paying for it?
Every day that we continue our assault on Iraq, international hatred against us is growing. Don’t you think we can spend our tax dollars more wisely to create a safer world? Imagine what $1.1 billion dollars a day could do if we spent it on health care, nutrition, and education here at home and throughout the world.
Ways of service
I was appalled to read that those protesting the military recruiting office in The Dalles feel that enlisting in the armed forces is “signing one’s life away” (March 26.) If you have served in the military and feel that way about your service, I am truly sorry. For those protesters who haven’t been a soldier, many of us who have feel differently. We call it “citizenship” or “giving back” or “serving our country.” Some of us make the military our career. Some do it part-time as a reservist or National Guardsman; in our civilian jobs we are teachers, pilots, counselors, office workers, firefighters. Some of us have graduate degrees, some of us finished a GED after having a family. Some are combat veterans; some of us served our entire enlistment without ever firing a shot except at the training range. Many of us have spouses, children, and loved ones serving now. We worry about them, and we are proud of them. They haven’t “signed their life away.” They have chosen their form of service. I believe there is a significant distinction.
If you truly want to protect our young people, here are some alternatives to spending the night in NORCOR at taxpayer’s expense: Become a foster parent. Volunteer to spend a year with “Teach America.” Become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Best yet: Protest against the budget cuts which have resulted in the ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug) Prevention Programs being cut. I will respect your advocacy, as well as your right to choose your form of service.
Please accord those who choose military service the same respect.
The $250 question
With the news this week of the request for an additional $76,000,000,000 to fund the invasion of Iraq, I did the math. It works out to roughly $250 per American. I propose the following list of projects I would rather fund with my family’s $1,000 allotment: support public schools; ensure basic medical treatment for poor people; house frail seniors; vaccinate children.
Imagine a society in which these were the funding choices. Not to mention the minor fringe benefit of saving thousands of lives. Think about it: $250 for every single American. How would you spend yours?
Our country’s choice to waste needed funds slaughtering Iraqis is a scandal and an abomination.
Price of freedom
Noontime, Saturday we got our U.S.A. flag, a “We Support our Troops” sign and went to Overlook Memorial Park in Hood River for appreciation of our soldiers.
Larry Stanley, manager of the Hood River American Legion sure hit the nail on the head with this statement ...
Larry had this to say “These are not my words. John Stuart Mill said “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
Donna and Dan Stair
Words from Mill
Several people today asked me to repeat what I said at the Rally for the Troops at the Overlook Memorial Park. Someone said one of your reporters was also trying to re-create the statement. Here it is, as well as the inspiration:
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. - John Stuart Mill”
Paraphrased by me at the rally for the troops March 29, at the Overlook Memorial Park in Hood River:
“These are not my words. John Stuart Mill said, in effect, “War is ugly, but not as ugly as a man who will not stand up for his brother or his country. He who will not do so has to rely on better men than himself to secure his freedom and safety.”
I like his version better, but did not have it memorized.
I really thing this should be put in the paper to tell how the men and women feel about fighting in the war.
A California mother whose son is right now in Kuwait poised to knock Saddam’s block off, wrote her son asking how he would feel if she joined other relatives of service members in an anti-war demonstration in Hollywood last month. After reading her son’s response, she elected not to participate.
Here is his response:
It’s really your decision to march if you want to or not. You are the one who has to decide if what we are doing out here is right or not. My opinion is not yours. I do, however, have things I would like for you and Grandma and everyone else at home to know.
I am a United States soldier. I was sworn to defend my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. People may not agree with the things we are ordered to do. I would like to address those people by telling them that terrorism is not only a threat to us as Americans, but to many other innocent people in the world.
What type of country would we be if we didn’t defend the rights and freedoms of others, not because they’re Americans, but how about just because they’re human?
We live in a country where people feel secure with their daily lives. They do business like usual and don’t worry about the thought of terrorism actually happening to them. The people of 9-11 thought the same thing. We now know that it can happen to anyone at any time.
Yet as Americans we’re afraid of losing our soldiers to defend our security. I can only speak for myself when I say that my life is an easy expense to ensure that my family and friends can live in peace.
I strongly believe in what we are doing and wish you were here to see for yourselves the honor and privilege that American soldiers aboard this ship are feeling, knowing that we are going to be a part of something so strong and so meaningful to the safety of our loved ones.
Then you would know what this potential war is about. We will stand tall in front of terrorism and defeat it. We as soldiers are not afraid of what may happen.
We are only afraid of Americans not being able to understand why we are here. I ask for your courage as Americans to be strong for us. I ask for your understanding in what we believe is right. I ask for your support in what we are sworn to do: defend our country and the life of all.
We will succeed in our task and will end the threat of terrorism in our back yard. We will also end the threat of terrorism in our neighbors’. We have to remind ourselves of what this country stands for: life, liberty and justice for all. In order to maintain those rights we have to stop the threat of terrorism.
I am proud to be here. I will be coming home, but not until I know that it’s going to be safe for all Americans and for everyone I love.
My family is first. My country is where they live. I will defend it! — Lonnie J. Lewis, Navy corpsman
For the same reason the paper would avoid running an ad for a sale on hamburger opposite the page with a story about mad cow disease, it is regrettable Saturday’s news story featuring local police preparations for violence, and property damage was allowed to so awkwardly set the stage for that day’s scheduled American Legion rally, and the Columbia River Fellowship for Peace’s sponsored parade. While I cannot vouch for the character of American Legion sponsored events, the Peace Fellowship has, for over 20 years, successfully sponsored educational, non-violent, non-destructive, peaceful activities. The alleged “instigators” from Portland, if they materialized, did so in the form of a father and his wheelchair-bound young daughter, and a seemingly friendly middle-aged couple from Gresham. Perhaps rather than reacting to these two groups as completely opposing forces, it would have been better for our police to facilitate a peaceful day by planning/allowing the activities on different days, or facilitating a meeting of the organizers together to commit to a mutually agreed upon plan for working things out ahead of time.
The story about how well prepared our police force is in case there is a riot in Hood River, while valuable, could have been run on any other day and it would have been better accepted had it been about being prepared, instead of, about who they thought they were prepared for this time. When, and especially only if things go afoul at one of these events I suppose it will be good that the police are ready to help take care of the worst case scenario in the least destructive way. Until that time let’s let folks learn how to work things out, which they will likely do without violence.
Keep it quiet
Today we flew home to Portland from Denver, having spent our spring break there. The entire trip home I spent reading a special issue of Newsweek Magazine (March 31). I read the whole thing and when I was done I was amazed that I did not feel upset about the war as I always feel when I read letters to the editor in our paper. For further information on how we got where we are today, and understanding the reasons why we are there, I would recommend this magazine to others.
I did not realize how much the anti-war sentiments really depress me until I saw all this information and I came away from a two-and-one-half-hour reading session not feeling badly at all. It was just informative instead of all negative. Please, just because you have strong feelings against this war, do not assume the entire community wants to hear them. It is difficult enough just having the war on, let alone adding more negative. Writing down your feelings or sharing them with your close loved ones can accomplish a lot; the world doesn’t need to hear them.
Remember those county land trade hearings in August 2001? Remember how almost everyone who spoke against the trade warned it would give Mount Hood Meadows the land needed to build a destination resort?
Remember how our commissioners assured us the trade was “only about timber?” Remember how Meadows V.P. Dave Riley echoed that, and added that no plans had yet been presented for a destination resort?
Obviously Mr. Riley meant no plans had been presented to the public, the taxpayers, the residents of this county.
In “A Valley’s Acres of Anger” (The Sunday Oregonian, March 9, 2003) investigative reporter Alex Pulaski wrote that as early as April 13, 2001, “two resort planning maps” had been “e-mailed to a member of the county’s planning staff” by Meadows planning director Steve Warila. “Three days later,” Pulaski wrote, “county commissioners endorsed House Bill 3585, which would have relaxed state rules for siting destination resorts. The bill died in committee.”
“By late June,” continued Pulaski, “county officials — including County Administrator David Meriwether and then-Commissioner Arens — were meeting with Riley to discuss a land trade. They also met in July (2001) in Salem with state land-use planners to talk about the trade and a destination resort.”
And, of course, the public hearings were barely over before Dave Riley began trotting around to groups he felt would favor a destination resort, showing “plans for a golf course, ice-skating rink, stores and as many as 450 dwellings near Cooper Spur.”
Does anyone seriously believe that those detailed plans were drawn up between the last hearing on August 20, 2001, and Mr. Riley’s presentations which began only a few days later?
The entire land trade process, as Pulaski makes abundantly clear, has involved deception, cover-up, secret hearings, and the questionable appraisal of the land involved. When was the last time you saw upper valley forest land for sale at $325/acre?
There is much more to this story than one letter can cover. For more details, curious readers should visit our library and read The Sunday Oregonian, March 9, 2003, pages A-17 and 20.
George W. Earley
This war is ...
This war is about freedom. Freedom for America to dominate the world. Freedom for Americans to drive “gas guzzlers”. Freedom for Americans to consume more per capita of everything. Freedom for America to change the government of yet another country to one that will benefit American corporations.
This war is about dominance. Dominance of the United States government over all other nations and peoples (including U.S. citizens at home).
This war is NOT about freedom for Iraqis. Obviously we aren’t welcome there. Had they wanted us, where were the welcoming parties? Do you think George Bush really cares about citizens of other countries? If he did, perhaps he would be changing the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Liberia, Burma, or a host of other countries. The bottom line is that Iraq (Saddam) is not friendly to U.S. corporations, and “our” oil is under their land.
This war is not about protecting our own soil. Iraq has not attacked us; we are invading their homeland to install our own puppet government. Even though the promoters of this war have 40 percent of Americans convinced that Iraq had something to do with the 9-11 attacks, there is not a shred of proof of this! Almost all of the 9-11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia!
This war is putting our soldiers at extreme risk. We must bring them home before this turns into another Vietnam. Our soldiers’ job is to defend our country, not invade other countries.
This war is illegal.
This war will further increase hatred towards America (and Americans).
We must stop this war.
In the book
For those of you looking for evidence linking Iraq to Al-Qaida, please read the following books written by Yossef Bodansky, Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, hired during the Clinton administration.
“Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America” — published before 9/11 on the New York Times best seller list