President Bush made a rather puzzling speech to the VFW on August 22. In his continued defense of his immoral, deadly, imperial misadventure in Iraq, Mr. Bush cited the Vietnam War, a catastrophic forerunner to the one in Iraq. Regarding the final U.S. departure from Vietnam in 1975, he said this: ".the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields."
Mr. Bush rightly states that millions died following the decision of the U.S. to allow the Vietnamese people to determine their own system of government without American interference. What he seems to conveniently forget is that millions of Vietnamese people died during the U.S. involvement there, in addition to more than 50,000 Americans. The final pullout of U.S. soldiers did not end the war; it merely allowed Vietnam's citizens to end it. Certainly people of compassion grieve with the loss of life experienced there; however, it could be argued that the death toll in Vietnam's civil war could have been reduced by half if the U.S. had never interfered. It could also have been reduced significantly if the U.S. had left earlier. Each day the U.S. remained in that country only added to the death toll.
The president also said this: "Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War.." Yet he has consistently seemed to reject 'legitimate debate' about how the U.S. got into the Iraqi War. Perhaps Mr. Bush would like to avoid the shining of too bright a light on the reasons for that involvement. The deceptions, falsehoods and threatening innuendos that he and his loyal minions, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powel and others proclaimed as known facts to the American public, the United Nations and the world all proved to be untrue. He seems to minimize the importance of looking at the recent past, and wants the world instead to look upon his view of a disastrous future if U.S. soldiers leave Iraq.
While re-writing the past and predicting the future, the bloody present escapes his notice. Mr. Bush says little about current conditions in Iraq: the daily deaths of Iraqi men, women and children, and U.S. soldiers; the suffering of refugees fleeing their homes to an unknown and uncertain future; the anguish of parents unable to provide water and food for their starving children because of his war. He chooses instead to resurrect again the once alluring but now stale idea that if a nation is not under the oppressive thumb of the U.S., it represents a threat to the American way of life. He refers to a ".stable continent whose people want to live in peace with America not attack America." This, he seems to say, represents the only two alternatives: if a nation does not buckle under to U.S. economic or military force, it must then be an enemy.
Mr. Bush appears to believe that he can whitewash almost anything to skew it to appear as an American victory. In addition to invoking the Vietnam disaster, and neglecting basic facts pertaining to it, he sought to portray South Korea through the same distorted filter. Said he: "The defense strategy that refused to hand the South Koreans over to a totalitarian neighbor helped raise up an Asian Tiger that is a model for developing countries across the world, including the Middle East."
The president appears to have forgotten, or perhaps he never knew, that the U.S. occupied the southern part of Korea after World War II in an apparent effort to prevent a Russian occupation of that country. Today, this 'Asian Tiger' hosts over 20 United States Army facilities. If this is the model that he seeks for Iraq, that nation can expect a large, permanent American military presence.
"We are still in the early hours of the current ideological struggle, but we know how the others ended, and that knowledge helps guide our efforts today." More pearls of wisdom from the self-proclaimed war president. U.S. involvement in Vietnam led to the deaths of between one and two million Vietnamese people, the destruction of that country's economy and the near-destruction of the U.S. economy. It drove one U.S. president from office and caused unprecedented turmoil on American streets and college campuses. America's reputation around the world was in tatters.
The Korean War, which was far shorter than the Vietnam War, resulted in the deaths of over 400,000 people, including tens of thousands of Americans. Over fifty years later, American military presence in that country is overwhelming. Despite Mr. Bush's claims to the contrary, it does not appear that U.S. efforts in Iraq are being guided by any knowledge of the outcomes of those earlier wars.
News reports state that Mr. Bush is going to continue with this same theme in coming speeches as well. If further indication were needed that he is incapable of learning from the past, or from his own mistakes, just this should be sufficient. He is determined to force America to 'stay the course,' despite the mortal dangers to U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens that are present on each step of that course, and the disastrous end to which it leads. As his escalation of the war only brings more dead soldiers home to America he insists on continuing the carnage. And as the Iraqi people continue to oppose their U.S. aggressors, Mr. Bush sends more aggression.
His optimistic picture of Iraq belies the facts, which Mr. Bush has never felt any compulsion to show any awareness of, let alone understand. There is no reason to believe that he will ever do so. Iraq must wait at least until the inauguration of a new president in January of 2009 for any hope that their suffering will cease. Until then, Iraqis and Americans will continue to die in Iraq's tragic civil war.
by Robert Fantina (click here for more articles), who is a long-time activist for peace and social justice. He has worked with the Coalition for Peace Action in New Jersey. Following the 2004 presidential election, he moved to Canada, where he now resides. Robert is the author of Desertion and the American Solder: 1776-2006.
It has become cliché to say that this Iraq war cannot be won militarily. Equally comfortable with this admission are hawks who would turn on a dime if they thought the insurgency was capable of collapsing, and doves whose primary objection to the war is its "mismanagement".
Trouble is it never really was a war because there was no opposing side. What was there was known to be easy picking - minimally armed and quickly demoralized. Mischaracterizing it as a war appears to give credibility to certain concepts such as self-defense (none was needed), appears to justify curtailment of civil liberties (what are they worth if they can be taken away anyhow?), and appears to give meaning to concepts such as winning and losing (you don't win something you couldn't lose).
Extending the train of thought from the mentioned cliché, that the war cannot be won militarily, the war is now said to require a "political solution". Improperly framing Iraq as a war benefits those responsible for it and obscures the clearest path to a saner future. If instead Iraq was framed as the armed assault that it was (billed as "Shock and Awe"), there is a logical, expedient political solution at our disposal - impeachment.
A political solution will have to envelope a perspective greater than that bounded by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Americans may not be fully convinced of the illegality and immorality of our invasion but the rest of the world, especially the affected, is overwhelmingly so.
It is unrealistic to think that the very government that displays such unbridled hostility to Iraq, Iran, and Syria can somehow be accepted as a legitimate interlocutor. In foreign eyes, we cannot be trusted to come up with any solution that will ameliorate the deep-seated animosity toward us that was generated by our use of force, and our continuing menace of more force.
A just solution won't come without a cleansing and we are fortunate to have one handy. Impeachment will tell a story about how and why we started an aggression. It will contain sub-plots about indefinite detention and torture and the means of repression here at home, including the suppression of dissent.
This story will make us better off for the telling. It is the surest way to win the "hearts and minds" of those our present government treats as if they had no hearts and minds at all. If we are willing to impeach our president and vice president, we are willing to admit that our country has done wrong. Admit this and forget the rest.
by James Rothenberg (click here for more articles), who was born in 1939 and made his living as a professional golfer. His trade articles have appeared in USGA Golf Journal and PGA Magazine, as well as authoring the book, The Skeptical Golfer. In more recent years this skepticism led him into the field of social and political criticism, exchanging "making a living" for "living for making", that is, making the slightest dent in establishment hypocrisy and double standards.
"Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac."
Pfc. Jonathan M. Cheatham, 19, of Camden, Arkansas, died on July 26, 2003 outside Baghdad, Iraq, when the convoy he was riding in was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades.
Jonathan was not your normal teenager. A high achiever in academics, music, and a great outgoing personality, he faced a future filled with opportunities for a successful and productive life. His Mother, Dr. Barbara Porchia, like any mother who loves their child, would often proudly speak of him in her conversations as his High School graduation loomed and choices of available scholarships that would assure his college education were awaiting his decision.
On the morning of September 11, 2001 the life of this family and its future was sealed by an event of horrific proportions. A few days later, Jonathan heard his President call for patriots to response to the threat. If he considered himself anything, Jonathan lived to be a true red, white, and blue blood American and felt it was his duty to protect his country, as did nearly everyone in America, including his mother at the time.
But it wasn't that simple. When President Bush launched his war on Terror, few realized at that time he was declaring an eternal war on the World, or more factually stated, on anyone, or any country, that didn't agree with him, any foreign entity or American citizen. Neither did America know the depth or meaning of his "Either you're for us or against us" statement. The general belief was that Bush meant he would take swift action against perpetrators of events like 9/11. But no one at the time envisioned an invasion of Iraq, or the subjugation of American citizens civil rights.
When the drumbeat for invading Iraq begin to gather steam, Dr. Porchia started to have doubts about the direction we as a nation were starting down and was concerned that Jonathan might be caught up in an expanding war for reasons that seemed more self serving for the Administration, the Bush Group, and Bush himself ("They tried to kill my Daddy") than for the protection of America. Future actions would cement that fear. Any thinking person should have been able to discern that Bush was going to start a war against Iraq and he was not going to let anything get in his way. And sure enough the United States invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003.
The selling point for the invasion given by Bush and Tony Blair Prime Minister of the UK, plus Congressional Republicans and Democrats who signed on, was that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction and that these weapons posed an imminent threat to the United States, its Allies, and American interests. In the Presidents State of the Union Speech, Bush claimed that the United States could not wait until the WMD were proven, because to wait for the Mushroom Cloud would be too late. And also to support the war hysteria, U. S. Officials cited claims of Saddam Hussein and an Al-Quaeda connection. All later to be revealed as lies and deception.
But Jonathan believed our President and he believed in the Presidency. He believed in the goodness of our leaders and their fidelity to truth. He believed them to be moral and trusted that they would never ask him to place his life in harms way unless the cause was just. Jonathan did not know the dark heart of his leaders.
The deceit of the Bush Administration is almost beyond measure. Yes they knew the lies they were speaking and they knew their aim was not to suppress a threat to America when they planned to invade Iraq. They knew they were fanning the fires of patriotism to get the American public behind a war that would bring tremendous profit for their few and tremendous pain and loss for the many both Iraqi and American.
Marcus Aurelius, an Emperor of Rome, illuminated the essence of life - "When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love". The Bush Bunch has cheated more than 3,600 American men and women and over one million Iraqis of the opportunity to pursue this precious privilege. And they brought this war for no reasons other than Greed, greed for Profit, Power, and Influence. That it has brought them shame is not a deterrent to them.
But for Jonathan, the final bell has tolled. We can only wonder, he might have become a great leader, one who would never sacrifice the fidelity that his electors entrusted to him, or he may have become a leading intellectual, the basic foundation was there and it certainly had been nurtured. But sadly for Jonathan we can only dream of what might have been, because his future, his chance for the precious privilege, the chance to some day play with his could have been children, was betrayed by leaders that he trusted completely.
Remember Jonathan for his goodness; he was the opposite of his deceivers. Jonathan died defending what he believed to be his duty. His deceivers wouldn't even be kind to his mother's sacrifice.
by Cliff Carson (click here for more articles), who is a freelance writer and Populist Party contributor.
Much is said daily about the consequences of getting out of Iraq. But there is little media attention about the consequences of staying in Iraq. And we seem to really have only two options, stay or leave. The media is filled with what will happen if we leave - chaos, civil war, killing, destruction of infrastructure, terrorists will come over here, terrorists will control the oil, and on and on.
But if we stay, I think we're very likely to suffer a continuation of much the same: Loss of life and crippling injuries to both Iraqi civilians and American soldiers, huge money expenditures now in excess of $12 Billion per month (and that's only the cash cost, the accrual is more than double that), increased loss of credibility around the world for destroying a people for reasons we can't explain (since we won't admit we did it for the oil), and a continued destruction of the future of the country of Iraq and the future of the Iraqi people.
As of today there have been more than 3,600 American lives sacrificed, over 12,000 American soldiers permanently disabled so far and possibly up to 1 million Iraqi lives lost, with an unknown (maybe 2 million) disabled for life. If we stay - if we continue to do what we have been doing (Stay the Course), should any one in their right mind expect this carnage to stop? I believe that we have already demonstrated that loss of life and limb at a horrific level will continue.
American soldiers will continue to die and be permanently seriously injured; loss of limbs-that sort of thing, and the loss of life and limb will continue to mount for the trapped Iraqi civilians. I say trapped because I mean those still in Iraq don't have the means to leave - they don't have the resources. Those that did have the resources (over 4 million wealthier Iraqis have already left) are the ones that had the most to offer to a very needy Iraqi people, but they're long gone. Doctors, Engineers, Teachers, and a multitude of what Iraq really needs now are just about all gone. And when we finally do leave, and some day we will have to leave, about the only thing that will be different from leaving now and leaving then, will be that more carnage will have occurred during our prolonged occupation.
The Iraqi war has cost the American people over $1 Trillion dollars already. Yes I know that the media figures place it at around $700 Billion, but that doesn't count for the debt reduction, repair to the military, and the long time medical care that over 200,000 Iraqi War veterans are now receiving for injuries and maladies that will continue for some time and possibly for the rest of their lives. Most estimates now peg that cost at around $2 Trillion (If we leave by years end). Since we are not going to do that, then if we just estimate that only 50% of the current carnage will continue, just think of how many more will die and be permanently damaged and how much more America will go into debt between now and when we do leave.
For every year we linger, add about 600 dead American soldiers, another 3000 permanently injured, another 25,000 added to the sum of those who will need medical attention AFTER the war, Another 5000 Iraqi lives and possibly another 10,000 injured for life, then there's the $72 Billion for that year plus another $250 Billion debt accrued. Only the insane would think this could ever bear fruit. Excuse me, that's except for the profiteers - they want it to continue. Let the money roll. Pump that black gold. The profiteers won't be losing anything - unless the war stops.
Our current accrued National debt is about $50 Trillion currently (about $170,000 for every man, woman, and child currently alive in the United States), including the $11 Trillion cash debt we currently report. As any wage earner knows, there is a limit to what can be paid from ones assets. When the debt load surpasses what you earn minus what you need for subsistence, minus what you owe, you can consider yourself bankrupt. And I haven't said anything about rebuilding Iraq. Do we have a moral obligation to rebuild Iraq? If not, why not? They didn't ask us to invade, they didn't threaten us, their biggest crime was being ruled by a Dictator - that we backed and helped place in power over the Iraq People, planning on him being an American Toadie in the Middle East.
If anyone gets any Oil revenues, it most likely will be International Oil Companies mentioned in the Iraqi Oil distribution "Benchmark". When I read the Draft of this deal (you can find it if you want to read it) I didn't see anything about those Oil Companies sharing the estimated $21 Trillion over the next 25-35 years with anyone except for a royalty of 12% to the Iraqi National Oil Company. And I believe that royalty was only for already developed oil. New Oil will belong to the Companies exclusively (This won't be admitted, but read the current draft very carefully).
Even though the financial costs are already staggering, possibly an even greater cost if we stay, the increasing lost credibility we will suffer around the world might be the most important. Just ponder this: Supposedly we invaded to save ourselves from WMD. When there were none to be found, we changed our reason to "We liberated the people of Iraq from an awful Dictator". Really? Aren't we still occupying Iraq long after Hussein was toppled and some time since he was hanged? Hasn't our "Liberation" caused hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths and many more permanently disabled? If it was to "Liberate" the Iraqi people why are we still there?
That's right, Bush says the Iraqi's have to assume responsibility and stand up. What the rest of the world sees is a Country that invaded a sovereign nation that wasn't a threat to the United States, that we did it on lies and a pretext, that it was a brazen raid to get control of their oil, plant themselves in the Middle East to get control of all the Middle Eastern Oil resources, and it appears that that we plan to stay forever and extract their oil for the profit of International Oil Companies controlled by the United States.
So the two choices seem to be: (1) Leave now, get our troops out and offer to help the Government that emerges. Iraqi People will die, but maybe not as many as will die as would if we linger two or three more years. Our soldiers won't be dying. We won't be mortgaging our children and grandchildren's' future. The longer we stay, the more the figures will grow. And by staying we will only prolong the inevitable. Or (2) Stay the Course; keep on occupying and destroying the Country. Keep on killing and being killed. And after we finally leave, and we will, choice number (1) will then have to occur.
I believe in America. I really think we can overcome this Dark Age that we have ventured into. But we have to make some decisions. First we must get out of Iraq, then we must try to right the wrong. We won't be able to do that until we get the criminals out and into a court where they belong and the dismantling of their war industry after we get out. I didn't say our "Defense" Industry because we always need to maintain an Army that can defend us if the need arises. I am speaking of the War Industry being run by the Neo-Cons, the Warmongers - they are also war criminals. Once we get the warmongers and their enablers (The Bush Administration) out and replaced with decent human beings, we need to extend to Iraq and the Iraqi people an apology and offer reparations for what we have done to them.
Keep in mind that although the propaganda is that we must "defeat" Al-Qaeda in Iraq, there just wasn't any organized Al- Qaeda in Iraq until about a year after we invaded. What we are doing now is fighting a proxy war just like we did in Afghanistan. We and the Soviets completely destroyed that Country with a proxy war, and of course the underlying real reason behind that war - was Oil. We have to stop trying to strong arm the rest of the world. Wouldn't it have been cheaper for America to have just bought the Oil? And over a million people wouldn't have had to die. Greed is a powerful thing.
Before this war, the Iraqi people loved America and saw our Great country as the lighthouse on the hill. One that was sending out a welcome beacon of morality and opportunity inviting the downtrodden of Earth. We have managed to shatter that illusion. But trust can be rebuilt over time. What is needed to accomplish that is the will to do something right for a change.
by Cliff Carson (click here for more articles), who is a freelance writer and Populist Party contributor.
I want you to know how very much I love you, how much I have always loved you since the very day you were born. From that moment on I have given you my best as a father. I taught you everything I knew, everything you needed to know in order that you might one day become a man.
However, during the past few years the world has changed, and as a result I, as well, have changed. When you were but a child, I believed that a man had no choice but to love, honor, and respect his country, that one should, without question, obey the laws of his land. Since that time, however, I have come to believe that there is something of much greater value... that of doing the will of God.
Rather than meticulously carrying out the rather capricious commands of those who administer the affairs of this world, I suggest that you set for yourself a more demanding task, one of doing what you can to create a world of peace, love, and justice, that you do your best to serve a much higher calling, that of being a servant of your fellowman, one dedicated to the best interests of the human race.
During the past six years (ever since that of 9-11) our world has been transformed into a seeming "holocaust of horrors," a world in which our president speaks of "wars without end." For your own welfare as a human being, I ask that you take the time to listen to what I have to say, for how you respond may well determine if you become a man of honor, one controlled by the inner voice of his conscience, or that of an automaton, a mere piece of machinery, an inanimate cog, doing what it has been told to do.
The lesson of Nuremberg (a set of trials in which an International Military Tribunal convicted Nazi leaders for having committed crimes against humanity, for having essentially followed orders to wage war against their fellowman) was quite clear; human beings are sacred. We, each and every one of us, are more than mere citizens, more than the holders of a simple deed on "a petty piece of property." We are shareholders of a much greater assemblage. We are members of the human race, each having laid claim to the one and same God. As such we must not allow ourselves to be constrained by the laws of our own land. The only law grand enough to guide the actions of man is that which serves the best interests of the human race.
One day we will each be held accountable for the degree to which we upheld the laws of peace, love, and justice. There will be no exceptions. Sooner or later (in this life or the next) there will be a "day of reckoning," a time in which each, and everyone, of us will be held responsible for our actions. No one (not even a citizen of the United States) will be allowed to escape judgment simply because we, for whatever reason, assumed that we were supposed to have followed orders, that we had an arbitrarily-defined, patriotically-determined duty to obey the laws of our land.
The Nazis learned this the hard way. The people of Germany should have known better than to have followed in the footsteps of a mad man. Surely we, as a people, have learned from the horrors of an earlier age. Consequently, we, as citizens, have, what I believe to be, an existential (no doubt a moral) imperative to tell our president that we will not follow him down the path of war, that we, as parents, will not allow him to use our sons (and daughters) as cannon-foddered-pawns in an utterly insane attempt to take over the world!
Once I was asked if I had any ideas concerning how to resolve the problem of war. I responded by saying, "Of course I do... all war will end when young people tell their leaders that they will no longer go to war, that they will no longer continue to kill, that if war is to continue it must be fought by those who make the decisions to go to war!"
As such, it is essential that we exhibit the courage to follow the inner call of our conscience, the higher calling of God. Anything less than this will destroy the fabric of a nation, desecrate the human spirit, and lead to perdition. So, if called upon, that is, if you, as a young adult, are one day compelled to go to war for your country, ask yourself this rather simple question: "Would it be in my best interests to comply (to essentially go along) with orders to kill my fellowman, all of such, of course, in the name of a coin-engraved, cookie-cutter, American-sized God, or might it be more noble for me, as a man, to choose to become an ambassador for peace, love, and justice, an individual who has chosen to say yes to life and no to war, one who has taken a firm stance against the God-awful madness of war?
Then one day when you, as I, have reached the final days of your life, you will "be assigned" the inevitable task of trying to figure out if you in fact lived a good and decent life, if you, as an individual, had the courage to follow your conscience. And if such is found to be the case, you will spend the final days of your life basking in the glory of a man who knew how to live his life.
But if, in looking back upon your life, you find a man who chose to go along with the crowd, one who did what he was told to do by others, one who no doubt sold his soul to that of the highest bidder, you will find a "man of tears," an individual condemned to living the last of his days in a self-imposed prison of shame, an internment reserved for those who knew not how to live their lives.
As an old man then, one who was given the opportunity to be your father, my advice to you is to do the right thing; always, without exception, follow your conscience. Do that which will enable you to stand tall as a man of honor, a man of true integrity, one who will have chosen life as opposed to death, one who will have committed himself to the nobility of peace rather than the hate-filled horrors of war, one who will be proud of who he has chosen to become as a human being, an old man who will not be afraid to look at himself in the mirror and say "Yes Lord, take me, for I have lived a good and decent life, and I am not afraid to die."
by Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D. (click here for more articles), who is a Psychologist and retired teacher based in Wharton, TX.
When you read Cicero, the great Roman Philosopher, and his "Six Mistakes of Man" you can't help but think that he may have been wasting his time. Maybe the old man was just having one of those days when nothing particularly witty was passing through his philosophical pen and boredom was overwhelming his normally acute mental prowess. After all, no one needs to be reminded what should be simple common sense ... particularly the leaders of powerful tribes, religious institutions, villages, towns, cities, or vast empires ... right?
Maybe he was writing to the lowly everyday citizen that lacked in philosophical understanding and he decided to instruct them in this brand of sound wisdom. Who knows what he was thinking?!?
For those of us that need a refresher glance at the "Six Mistakes of Man", here they are:
The delusion that personal gain is made by crushing others
Everyone knows that might doesn't make right. Come on, Cicero, even the grade school playground bully knows that ... even when he is beating the hell out of you. However, the reality of that choice doesn't become readily apparent until he gets a brutal beating himself.
The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected
That's correct ... just ask the Jews or any other faction who did not toe the line that the Roman Empire laid out, or any of the American Southern states that desired to secede from the union, or our Founders who had heard enough lip from the Church of England. All of them decided that they were not going to worry about those things that could not be changed or corrected and concentrate on those things that could.
Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it
See last statement above.
Refusing to set aside trivial preferences
This is too radical of an idea for me to comprehend. I am going to seek out political and religious counseling for this one. Maybe I can have my mind transformed by those who are totally unified.
Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and studying
This one I understand a little better. Yes, it would be a horrible mistake if any nation's government would rather that its citizens spend their valuable time working two or three jobs or attempting to find one, whatever the case may be, than reading and studying about subjects that would educate them to better understand how their government works; how foreign policy can affect how the world judges their country; how financial factors drive wars and enforce policies instead of issuing a pretense that claims the struggle is defending its people and its freedoms; and ... well, you get the picture. However, this is one that we need not worry about because our leaders are always looking out for our best interests and they understand that here in this country, the people rule and they would never, ever, ever consider violating our trust.
Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do
This is similar to the trivial preferences above. Anyway, that kind of action would be considered too aggressive and hostile for any civilized, technologically driven, advanced nation to even give a passing thought. They would understand that diversity is what keeps new ideas germinating.
I still can't figure out why Cicero thought that he needed to write this list. Since he was around during the time that the Roman Empire was beginning to lose their dominance maybe he felt that some kind of warning needed to be issued. But, why? That great empire only desired what was best for its people - like all empires do. Well, according to the leaders, that is.
There was a great deal of prosperity while they were in power ... plenty of food ... increase in the arts and architecture ... the citizens enjoying luxuries that was unheard of prior to their rule ... great roads ... powerful military ... and the peace that was being enjoyed as the result of total conquest.
What did Rome's leaders possibly need to know for it to get any better?
I wonder if anyone informed Rome's leaders about how comical Cicero's six mistakes appeared?
If they did, I wonder if anyone listened?
by Keith Simerson (click here for more articles), who is a self-employed foundryman and sculptor as well as an Air Force veteran in the security field. See his website at www.stonereproductionworks.com , and his blog at www.goodnevilguy.blogspot.com .
In August of 2003, I wrote an article titled A Fatal Flaw in our Alleged Foreign Policy. It was an attempt to put the shoe on the other foot, to make us understand what we were going to face in occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and why.
Four years of occupation later and still we do not seem to understand what is going on. History is replete with examples, but who reads history anymore? Unless they are utterly exterminated, occupied peoples fight back! They fight by any means at their disposal, and they often set aside old quarrels until the invaders are gone.
We have set up, and encouraged, a civil war in Iraq by our actions. One of these days, the Iraqis are going to figure this out and then, God help us.
The Sunnis and the Shiites have been religious parties at odds with each other since a generation after the death of Mohammed. At times they have fought, and at other times they have divided up territory to each live in, in peace. Though they do not agree, and probably never will, they have been known to set aside their quarrel to beat off an enemy. Read the history of the Crusades. It reads much like the current war in Iraq. Eventually, the Crusaders were driven into the sea and the occupation of the "Holy Land" was over for about seven hundred years.
Until we started to try to impose our own values upon the Middle East, Christians and Jews lived in peace in the Muslim countries. This was true during the time of the Crusades. We (the Crusaders) solved that by killing everyone in the cities we captured. It did not take long before Christians and Jews were driven out or killed by the Muslims.
The same thing is, or was, true in the modern Middle East. There were churches, synagogues, and a few monasteries in the various Islamic countries. They were tolerated, if not particularly welcomed, until the new Crusades started, at which time most of them were expelled or killed.
Afghanistan has been swallowing armies since the time of Alexander. The Afghans are fiercely independent tribal societies. They have warred with each other for thousands of years over territory, wealth, or any other reason. It has been a sort of blood sport with them. When threatened by an outside army, they band together until the foe is driven off and they can get back to their normal occupation. We aided the Afghans with money, weapons, training in modern warfare, to help them drive off the Russian invaders. Eventually, the war got so costly in men and materials that the Russians left. We then stepped in and took the Russian's place so the Afghans are now united against us, with that technology at their disposal.
You cannot make democratic consumers of western goods and ideas out of people by blowing them up, destroying their cities and villages and starving them. It didn't work for the Nazis, the CCCP, and it will not work for US. All we will reap from this adventure in imperialism is an increasing loss of life, increasing hatred and contempt for the United States, and eventually, the bankrupting of the United States, turning us into largest third world Banana Republic dictatorship on the planet.
Unfortunately, if they are not removed from office, the nutsos in charge may well decide that if they cannot have the world, nobody can, and unleash the nuclear dragon to take us all out, friend, neutral and foe alike.
It would be a fairly simple thing to declare a cease fire in Iraq, with no military actions except in self defense, and begin to pull our troops out of Iraq. There would probably be an instant reduction in violence in Iraq, once they were convinced we were in earnest. All that is needed is for the Congress to reverse the permission they unconstitutionally gave to the Cheney/Bush regime to wage war, and cut off the funds for all except that needed to withdraw our forces from Iraq.
As an incentive to do this, I would like to see a clock placed on the wall of every committee room and cloak room in Congress, and a large one over the speaker's podium in each House. The clock would count, not the hours, but every tick would signify the death of another of our kids. If they had this before them in all their deliberations, perhaps they would begin to consider something other than the perennial "Who can I suck up to to get the money and influence to win the next election?" Right now, that is all the politicians are worried about. Every other situation is mere lip service, window dressing. They are not concerned about change, ending the war, they want to win the next election!
They have the power to bring this nightmare to an end, now. By timidly suggesting that, maybe, perhaps, we can end the war next year, we are condemning at least a thousand to fifteen hundred more kids to death and maybe another ten thousand to being shattered and maimed. That is not to mention the tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans that will die or be wounded and made homeless.
I am unable to fathom the minds that can consider expending that many more kids, just to be at the same place we are now, ending the war and bringing the survivors home.
I urge everyone who cares, to write your senators, your congressmen, the newspapers, even send things into the black hole that is the White House. True, none, or very few, of their kids are at risk, but ours are, and more every day this criminal madness is perpetuated.
by Stephen M. Osborn (click here for more articles and contact), who is a freelance writer living on Camano Island in the Pacific Northwest. He is an "Atomic Vet." (Operation Redwing, Bikini Atoll 1956, ) who has been very active working and writing for nuclear disarmament and world peace. He is a retired Fire Battalion Chief, lifelong sailor, writer, poet, philosopher, historian and former newspaper columnist.
Two months into President George Bush's much-vaunted 'surge' - the addition of tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq - the U.S. commander in that country, General David H. Patreaus, has noted 'modest progress.' In fairness, he did not neglect to mention the dramatic rise in suicide bombings outside of Baghdad.
What's needed now, he told the world, is for political compromises between the internal warring parties to be brokered by the current leaders of Iraq. The fact that those parties have been warring for generations and are only united in their hatred of the United States was somehow excluded from his assessment. Either way, he said, stabilizing Baghdad, which was stable prior to the U.S. invasion, could take a decade.
So while the world awaits these elusive compromises, the Bush administration ponders the possibility of once again extending the length of time American soldiers must police Iraq's civil war. It was only in April that these tours of duty were lengthened from twelve to fifteen months, violating the military's own goal of providing equal time in deployment and at home; the time at home is only twelve months between deployments. But in order to maintain troop levels through 2008, the administration says, something must be done.
Other options, of course, are also being considered. Additional reliance on the Reserves is one possible choice, despite nearly universal assertions that the Reserves are meant for domestic duty in time of national emergencies and are already overstretched, leaving the U.S. vulnerable to natural or military disasters. Increasing the use of the Reserves will not be easy for Mr. Bush to accomplish.
There is one other possibility that Mr. Bush has not publicly discussed, and his silence on the matter is alarming. When the country is at war and there are insufficient numbers of soldiers to wage that war, America has always reverted to modern-day slavery, euphemistically called 'conscription,' or the draft. The possibility of this must not be dismissed.
Mr. Bush could potentially find a receptive Democratic Party if he chooses to take this route. Congressman Charles Rangel (D- NY) has long supported reinstating the draft. On March 23, 2006 Mr. Rangel said this: "President Bush's assertion that the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq would be up to the next President is the best evidence yet of the need to reinstate the military draft." While no one has jumped on this particular bandwagon, there have been statements that at least tacitly support it.
Politicians, it has been said, might be less eager to embark on wars if there was a greater chance that their own children would be in the line of fire. And a draft would, some say, eliminate the so-called 'poverty draft' that entices economically disadvantaged young men and women into the military for educational and other benefits. And with the Democratic Congress having proved itself spineless, there is little possibility that it would successfully oppose Mr. Bush in this regard. A show of bravado about not allowing the draft would be followed by some pseudo-patriotic statements about 'supporting the troops.' How forcing more young Americans to be at constant mortal risk in a war zone is 'supporting' them is beyond reasonable consideration.
At the height of the Vietnam War, 20,000 men were being drafted each month. The ongoing result at that time included riots in the streets and on college campuses, and the exit of approximately 50,000 young Americans to Canada where a warm welcome awaited them. Nearly 60,000 young Americans died, and the goals of the war as articulated by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were never achieved. And now, as the American public clamors for an exit from Iraq, with their cries ignored by the President and Congress, more young men and women are being sent to their deaths as they attempt to police the civil war America unleashed.
In order to maintain current and anticipated troop strength through 2008, Mr. Patreaus tells the world, tours of duty must be extended, or the Reserve units must be more heavily relied upon. How long will it be before someone decides that too many poor young men and women are seeing through the lies military recruiters tell them, and the military ceases to reach its recruiting goals? Even today they are only being reached because the standards have been lowered to the lowest point legally possible. How long will it be before the number of soldiers opting for desertion and possible imprisonment over returning to Iraq depletes the number of forces to such an extent that Mr. Patreaus, Mr. Bush and their cohorts call upon young Americans to 'do their duty' as they - Mr. Bush & Co. - determine it?
One wonders how much success Mr. Bush would meet, should he succeed in reinstating the draft. Will potential draftees answer the dishonorable call being made to them, or will they listen to the words of those who have seen the war first hand? Those statements and experiences are instructive:
Will Mr. Bush's potential cannon fodder - young Americans - heed his long-disproved words about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, about Iraq being the 'central front on the war on terror,' and his other jingoistic statements, and allow themselves to be drafted? Or will they consider the words of the soldiers and former soldiers, including those listed above, and refuse participation in the war? Will students on college campuses blindly accept the dictates of the government, or will they look past the lies and find the obvious truth?
As the war escalates one must not sit complacently back and put a fresh American flag decal on their window. As the American death toll steadily climbs towards its next milestone - 4,000 - the war may soon be up close and personal for far more Americans than it is today.
Americans cannot rely on Congress to protect their interests; member of Congress are more concerned about the next election than they are about the sons and daughters of those who elected them. Continuation of the war must be actively and vigorously opposed by those very citizens; any talk of conscription must be defeated as soon as it is raised. A draft will only prolong the war and all the suffering that accompanies it.
by Robert Fantina <click here for contact>, who is a long-time activist for peace and social justice. He has worked with the Coalition for Peace Action in New Jersey. Following the 2004 presidential election, he moved to Canada, where he now resides. Robert is the author of Desertion and the American Solder: 1776-2006.
Ask any law enforcement officer what their most vivid memories are and you will notice their eyes clouding over as they begin entering a world consisting mainly of sweeping recollections of bizarre personal encounters with individuals ranging from the nicest to the vilest. The twisted journey that they were just asked to take is not the place that they want to remain for long because it will only further the deterioration of trust that one already has in their fellow man more quickly.
No one needs that process to be hurried along, do they?
It is a sad moment when the realization strikes you that those that you were told that you could trust have become more untrustworthy than your most feared enemy. They are much more dangerous than your enemy because they stand face to face with you, smiling and shaking your hand, telling you how great a sacrifice you are making for your country, corporation, or organization, while you clearly see evidence all around to the contrary. How long do you think the upbeat charade can continue while everything that you are being told is fine is crumbling and collapsing like a card castle in the wind?
Please tell me again what exactly is the sacrifice that I am making and who is benefiting from it the most? I really need to know so that I can remain focused on the mission.
During my law enforcement days, we began having a string of rapes on our military installation and in the surrounding community. The perpetrator was extremely intelligent but incredibly twisted. He patiently selected his victims and watched them carefully. He knew when their husbands would be at work or deployed for training or on a mission. He would always choose women with children and threaten physical harm against them unless the woman complied with his demands. His method of operation was always to tuck in his victim and kiss her on the forehead after the rape, with specific instructions to lock the door after he left so no one else like him could come in and hurt her. A real twisted creep.
He had a working knowledge of both ours and the local civilian law enforcement response tactics and greatly used them to his favor. Once he evaded capture by utilizing classified information that only we were suppose to know. He knew that our canine units would have to cease chasing him by threatening to bomb aircraft at coordinates that only a few individuals were privy to. The blood hound handlers had even commented that he was giving off a confusing scent that was unlike a normal person who should be experiencing fear when pursued. This man was a very real threat to the security of our area and I remember how great a personal responsibility I carried for that community and their safety during the investigation. I was willing to work the long hours and whatever else was necessary to bring him to justice.
We began having intelligence meetings to discuss found evidence and possible strategies to bring this public danger to an end. Eventually our long efforts paid off and he was arrested. Mission accomplished and kudos to all involved.
When I think back on that incident now, I think about how upset I would have been if I would have discovered that our Base Commander had had anything to do with those crimes. What if I would have discovered that he intentionally placed that rapist in the local area because he felt that his military law officers and the local cops needed the experience? Or what if I discovered that our commander was being financially compensated by the weapon makers of the weapons that we used during our investigations? Or by the gas and oil companies that supplied our endeavors? The longer and more intense the investigation of this perpetrator went on, the more financially rewarding to the overseer.
Heaven forbid that scenario be true; what would you say to the women that were raped? What about the cops injured or killed while chasing this criminal madman? What part did they play in the mission? Were they just the casualties of a criminal rapist or were they the real victims of a plot by a base commander, a member of the intellectual elite, who feeds his ravenous hunger for gain with the blood of those that find it unfathomable that their leader would ever think of misleading them or bringing harm to them. To those that possess a great trusting mentality of leadership, the thought is too evil to imagine. They would rank that action as comparable to the evil of being abused by their dad or priest.
On the other hand, those that have suffered the brutal abuse by those in authority know only too well how effectively those actions can be covered up. People do not like to believe that monstrous actions like that could ever exist but when they are forced to confront that level of evil face to face for the first time they find that something dark begins to eat away at their soul.
Then I came upon this chilling quote from Hermann Goering, who was one of the important leaders of the Nazi Party and one of the primary architects of the Nazi Police State in Germany, "Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Of course, it is impossible to imagine that any one who has ever enjoyed the freedoms of our nation would ever attempt to deliberately rape and destroy it and its great people for personal gain ... or would they?
Please tell me that that is true and none of our intellectual elites share in this disturbing mentality?
By the way, you will have to keep a straight face when you answer me or else I won't believe you.
by Keith Simerson <click here for more articles>, who is a self-employed foundryman and sculptor as well as an Air Force veteran in the security field.
Regardless of what so many have come to believe, death is more than the simple fact of someone having died, the realization that a living breathing entity has ceased to function, that a lifeless form has become that of "just another cadaver," the stark realization that a human being's time on earth has finally come to an end. Even though one's body has been "laid to rest," something of much greater significance has occurred.
Much more to the point is the death of one's soul, the departure of the spirit from an individual's body; an acknowledgement that an imponderable, a vital living force having once empowered an individual through each and every step of life has vanished from the scene.. a shared understanding that something very special has been swept away. Indeed, the knowledge that something absolutely essential to the life of every related human being has been lost to the world. For this the world is less than it once was.
But what about the corporal and spiritual qualities of a more communal, national entity such as that of our own nation, the United States of America?
Corporally, the United States, as a religious body, seems to be doing quite well, no doubt willing to pit the validity of its own static dogma against that of any other nation. As a mere four percent of the world's population, it has established one of the highest standards of living in the world, at present consuming nearly 35% of the world's wealth. It has attained the rather fine distinction of becoming the foremost military power the world has ever known, so powerful that it has the capacity to destroy all life on earth several times over.
As in the days of the Roman Empire, it, as well, leads the world in its ability to entertain, no doubt fielding some of the greatest professional and Olympic athletic teams the world has ever seen. Its woman are most beautiful, and its men rather handsome. A people with such an excess of time, such an enormous supply of nonessentials, that it has become a worldwide haven for those who enjoy games of chance, erotic stimulation, and the corpulent pleasure of gorging on the finest of foods. It is such that has brought America to the apex of greatness, a utopian culture no doubt having reached the highest levels of human achievement, something for which every red, white, and blue-blooded American can be proud.
On the other hand, what about its soul.. the spirit of our nation, a force so vital that it once enabled our country to stand tall amongst all others in the world; a certain quality that commanded the attention of all; a national charisma that marked us as unique, distinctly different from all other nations in the world; an inner strength that everyone, every single nation, could count on; the shared knowledge that, of all nations in the world, the United States was one of true integrity; a nation willing to share its wealth with those in need; a nation willing to defend those whose rights have been stripped away; a nation willing to take a determined stand for truth, justice, and peace on earth; a nation ready and willing to defend the sacred nature of every human being on earth; a true beacon of light for the whole world to see.
However, realizing that our country has not always lived up to such high standards, that we have made mistakes, no doubt far too many mistakes, we, as a nation, have achieved the reputation of being moderately civilized. Compared with some of the more ruthless regimes; Adolf Hitler of Germany, Joseph Stalin of Russia, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Pol Pot of Cambodia, and Idi Amin of Uganda, we have, at times, demonstrated a degree of humanity.
However, on nine-eleven something changed.... perhaps everything changed! On that fall day in 2001 no one (at least no ordinary citizen) had any idea of what was going to happen. No one realized that nine-eleven was going to change the very fabric of our nation, that everything our country had once stood for would be lost! On the eleventh day of September, the United States was attacked by a foreign power, one we now refer to as Al Qaeda; two passenger jets ploughed into the World Trade Center, another rammed the Pentagon, and a third crashed into a field somewhere in southwestern Pennsylvania.
There was no doubt a great deal of death, pain, and destruction, and a host of families suffered the loss of loved ones. In all nearly three thousand human beings, most of them American citizens, lost their lives. However, not to lose perspective, our loss was no doubt quite minimal considering the twelve-year long embargo placed upon Iraq that eventually lead to the deaths of one half million Iraqi children. Rather amazing that so many of our own people (most who refer to themselves as Christians) chose to become so terribly upset about the death of such a meager amount of folks, while nary shedding a tear over "the mass execution" of perhaps as many as 500,000 Iraqi children!
However, unlike most who would suggest that our country was severely wounded on that day, I beg to disagree. Yes, it is true that we were wounded, but the wound was not severe, and it is clear that we have no doubt fully recovered. The stock market eventually rebounded, and a new improved building will soon take the place of the one that was lost. However, on the spiritual front, there has been no recovery. In fact, far from having recovered, we have regressed. You see the lesser wound was physical. Conversely, the much greater wound was spiritual. The real wound, the spiritual wound, came not from the enemy, but rather from that of our own hand.
The spiritual wound was self-inflicted. It was something we chose to do to ourselves. The "real wound" was not a matter of what the enemy did to us, but rather the way we, as a nation, chose to respond to our enemy; the manner in which we willingly allowed the injured pride of a once great nation to bleed into such hate, to transmute into such a frenzied need to destroy our enemy.
Thus it seems that our nation has become afflicted with a vengeance so virulent that it has turned us into a veritable crowd of beasts, an unruly people so bent upon destroying our enemy that it has become a "Sword of Damocles," a pointed blade hanging above our heads ready to strike at the very heart of everything that we, as a nation, once held dear, a weapon so terrible it is poised to deliver the final blow to the one, and perhaps only, thing that we, as Americans, have in common; an ardent desire to maintain freedom and democracy for all. We have seemingly forgotten the old rather prophetic adage that warns: Those who live by the sword are, no doubt, bound to die by the sword!
There was a very good reason why The Messiah taught that we should refrain from hating our enemy, why we should learn to forgive and perhaps even to love our enemy. The reasoning behind such instruction has always been easy to understand. Hate for one's enemy, an eye for an eye/tooth for a tooth approach to life, the natural desire to strike back rather than to turn one's cheek, is at the very heart of evil.
Like pouring gasoline onto a fire, it fans the flames of hate and violence. Rather than humility, which requires one to ask what he may have done to cause the other to have become so upset, the arrogance that so often accompanies hate compels one to find a flaw in his enemy (any flaw at all) that might serve to justify his own violence. Something like the messianic parable suggesting that "we first remove the plank from our own eye before requesting that our enemy remove the speck from his."
Since that fateful day in September, we have seemingly never looked back. All pride..abject arrogance with no shame whatsoever. Never once questioning why so many people around the world have chosen to hate us.
I believe the country's rather discernible slide into perdition began on December 12, 2000 when George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce (Dick) Cheney were so ardently declared by the United States Supreme Court to be the winners of that fall's presidential election. That was bad enough, but much worse was the American populace's decision to re-elect the pair in 2004. Then came the nine-eleven event, an "absolute stroke of luck" for American fundamentalists (Hooray... Armageddon and The Rapture are near!), the neoconservatives (the "Pearl Harbor" they had needed in order to declare war on Iraq), and Osama bin Laden (that led the United States to play right into his most grateful Qutbist-Salafist hands).
Next, there is a series of events that, taken together, may well become known as the Bush-Cheney Affair, or perhaps simply: Bush-gate. First, and foremost, was the rather well-planned, no doubt well-marketed, program of deception and lies, designed to manipulate the citizens, as well as the Congress, of the United States of America to support the massively illegal and immoral invasion of the country of Iraq.. and all of such originating from a president who promised to bring respect and honor to the Office of the President.
Then came the Patriot Act, the beginning of the end of the American people's 214 year-long struggle to maintain the Bill of Rights, an absolutely wonderful document; Next, the awful realization that the United States government had announced that it had given to itself the audacious authority to preemptively destroy (that is, to destroy without any prior provocation) any country that might be so presumptuous as to simply question America's "apparently preordained right" to rule the world.
After that, a rather remarkable disclosure that our government had embarked upon the development of an entirely new set of tactical nuclear weapons, in absolute violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of which the United States had signed, all in order to frighten and, if necessary, to annihilate its enemies; Then the developing realization that the Bush-Cheney administration had orchestrated a rather monstrous accumulation of U.S. debt all in order to accommodate the mounting monetary needs of a multi-nationally dominated military-industrial complex through the provision of tax cuts for the rich (those who happen to own such corporations), cheap foreign labor (otherwise known as "outsourcing"), a mounting foreign debt (IOU's to countries and corporate enterprises scattered around the world), along with an uncontrollable urge to wage further war (and therefore subsidize the corporate infrastructure needed to fight such wars).
The apparent death of a once-free press due to the Bush-Cheney administration having allowed the corporate community to take control of the American news media to the extent that it can no longer fulfill its obligation to tell the people of the world the truth; The absolutely unbelievable disclosure that the United States government (primarily that of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld) have decided that our nation would become "a culture of death and torture," that we would no longer honor, that we would no longer require ourselves to obey, internationally accepted law forbidding the illegal (and certainly highly immoral) torture of its prisoners.
And finally, the inevitable unraveling of the Bush-Cheney administration's laundry list of heinous crimes, no doubt having begun with the now infamous indictment of Lewis (Scooter) Libby, The Vice President's White House Chief of Staff, and likely ending with an eventual, far overdue, impeachment of George Walker Bush... a president that history will no doubt record as "a fervently avowed Christian" who, nearly single-handedly, with but "a few strokes of the pen," after having so arrogantly declared that he had earned political capital (and by God) he was going to spend it, was able to bring America all the way down to its rather symbolic, and no doubt proverbial, knees!
However, whatever turns out to be the exact sequence of events in the inevitable downfall of the Bush-Cheney administration, far more significant will be the fact that the American republic, as we once knew it, will have ceased to exist. The corporal body of the American republic (barring a catastrophic terrorist attack) will no doubt remain.
But the spirit, the constitutional construction of a once great democracy, the democratic freedoms once granted to each and every one of its citizens, will have been lost. And someday such will be nothing more than a distant memory of what perhaps could have been if the American people would have had the wisdom, the moral prudence.. the spiritual foresight, to realize what had befallen them as the embodied spirit of a once great nation.
by Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D. <click here for all articles>, who is a Psychologist and retired teacher based in Wharton, TX.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's attempt to lead Congress' effort to convince George W. Bush that he is totally incompetent and is damaging our world has failed. The Speaker's position is similar to that of the Colonialists when they were petitioning King George III and his Court in the 1700's for their freedoms.
Speaker Pelosi's two-prong plan was: to reform government - and impeachment was off the table.
But it was only a plan - it has accomplished none of its major goals - and the general welfare of our country continues to worsen. The plan is a bust. The plan needs revision. And September is too long to wait while Congress shadow-boxes with a president who is chasing ghosts. People are being murdered every day because of decisions made by George W. Bush and approved by Congress. This must stop now!
Why would the Speaker of the House of Representatives ever announce that "impeachment is off the table"? By making this statement, the Honorable Representative from the 8th District of San Francisco, California has torn Article II, Section 4 out of our Constitution - set it on fire - and thrown it in a trash can. That is treason, and treason is an impeachable offense. We already have one branch of government trashing the Constitution - we don't need another one. Impeachment is the only Constitutional tool we have to remove "all civil Officers of the United States" from office - not just Presidents and Vice-presidents.
Speaker Pelosi's tunnel-visioned approach of continuing down a dead-end road that gets narrower and darker by the day is not helping our country.
Our country is in a political black hole - where up is down, right is left, the truth is a lie, and tyranny rules. This is not what the authors of our Constitution intended. In fact, they provided a specific remedy in the Constitution for occurrences such as the one our country is experiencing today. They included it because they knew a secure future could not be insured for their posterity without providing specific protections. They understood human nature well enough to understand that the behavior of King George III was not a unique aberration. Throughout history, there have been men with similarly twisted minds who have ascended to positions of power. There needed to be an absolute check on absolute power. That check is "impeachment".
Our government has become a contest between an incompetent and obstinate President and a Congress that is satisfied with changing nothing - no matter how bad things gets - no matter how many people die - no matter how much tax money is wasted on wars - no matter how many of our civil rights and freedoms are violated - no matter what. Speaker Pelosi, the U.S. Congress, and the Executive branch of our government have pressed the mute button on the voices of the American people. The Government of the United States is neither listening to nor responding to the will of the American people. Our government is a damaged political institution, and it needs our help to get back on track.
The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were written because the authors were living under the fist of a despotic government - and they found it annoying. They started the Revolutionary War to eliminate the violations of their freedoms and civil rights by an oppressive government. If the authors did not believe impeachment might be necessary some day, they would not have included it in the Constitution.
Madam Speaker: the day the authors suspected might come is today.
The 110th Congress tried to bring reason, purpose, and sanity to the uncivil conduct of George W. Bush. But since he was appointed to the Office of the President by the U.S. Supreme Court in December, 2000, there has been no Congressional oversight - no checks or balances - no accountability for all the damage that George W. Bush has caused throughout the world. If the American People let George W. Bush get away with what he has done to our country and the world, then what message will this send to the current bunch of warmongers running for the Office of the President? Without a change in course, the condition of our country will get worse.
The lack of Congressional oversight was the choice of the Republican Party between 2002 and 2006 because both Houses of Congress and the Executive branch were controlled by Republicans between 2002 and 2006. The damage that this lack of oversight has caused to our country and to the world is obvious.
Congressional oversight has been in the headlines for the past six months because both Houses of Congress have had a Democratic majority since January 3, 2007. But with the exception of non-binding resolutions - which themselves are regularly undermined by the Republican minority - and "threats" to issue subpoenas to key Executive branch Officials by Committees from both Houses of Congress - nothing has changed. And nothing is going to change until the elected officials making and supporting the decision to kill people for oil are impeached by the House, tried and convicted in the Senate - and then tried in criminal Courts for "crimes against humanity". And if they are found guilty in the criminal Courts, they should be sentenced with the harshest possible consequences.
Our country's Founders were specific about how unsuitable elected officials were to be removed from office. In Article II, Section 4 of our Constitution they wrote, "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." The word "shall" was chosen to indicate that when impeachment was warranted, it was not an option "not to impeach". And what would be a "high crime" if murder is not?
Before assuming their official duties, Members of Congress take the following oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.;"
The Constitution states in Article VI, clause 3 that, "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution;."
The words ".shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution;." mean that once a government official has taken his oath of office, he is obliged to, "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic".
Checks and balances are useless if they are not used. If Speaker Pelosi will not change her position on impeachment - she should be impeached for violating her oath of office.
The President and his men are a clear and present danger to the safety and future of our country - and the longer they stay in office, the more damage they will do. They are incapable of changing their behavior - and to allow them to continue to violate the Constitution and ignore our freedoms is dangerous and wrong. Despots never change their behavior. They find power too intoxicating. For them, power is an addiction. For them, self-restraint is not possible.
The President is behaving like a little boy with a pocketful of firecrackers. He ain't gonna' stop playin' with them - until they're all gone - or someone takes them away from him. That's your job Madam Speaker. And it's not an optional part.
If Speaker Pelosi is not preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution, then she is violating it.
Impeachment is the first of two stages in the specific process for a legislative body to remove an elected government official without that official's agreement. The second stage is conviction.
How powerful is impeachment in stopping Presidents from continuing to lie - and in forcing them to reveal what they are lying about? In 1974, President Richard M. Nixon resigned following "a committee vote" to approve impeachment proceedings so he could avoid "the presentation of Impeachment Articles" before the full House.
What were the charges against President Nixon?
On Saturday, July 27, 1974 the House Judiciary Committee approved its first article of impeachment charging President Nixon with obstruction of justice. Six of the Committee's 17 Republicans joined all 21 Democrats in voting for the article. The following Monday the Committee approved its second article charging Nixon with abuse of power. The next day, the third and final article, contempt of Congress, was approved.
Special Prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, who had been appointed by the Justice Department, pursued Nixon's tapes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On July 24, the Court unanimously ruled that Nixon had to surrender the tapes.
To avoid handing over all of the 42 subpoenaed tapes to the House Judiciary Committee, the President had instead released 1,254 pages of edited transcripts of 20 tapes in the spring of 1974.
The tapes had become the focus of an intensive year-long legal battle between all three branches of the U.S. government. In October of 1973, Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, who had been appointed by the Nixon administration, publicly vowed to obtain the tapes despite Nixon's strong objections.
This resulted in the "Saturday Night Massacre" on October 20 in which Nixon attempted to fire Cox, but was temporarily thwarted as Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus refused Nixon's order and instead resigned. Solicitor General Robert Bork agreed to carry out the order and fired Cox.
"Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people
On August 5, the long sought after audio tapes provided the "smoking gun" which revealed President Nixon had been deeply involved in the Watergate burglary cover-up.
That revelation resulted in a complete collapse of support for Nixon in Congress. On Friday, August 9, Nixon resigned the presidency and avoided the likely prospect of losing the impeachment vote in the full House and a subsequent trial in the Senate.
Richard Nixon left office with 2 1/2 years of his second term remaining. A total of 25 officials from his administration, including four cabinet members, were eventually convicted and imprisoned for various crimes
The only difference between then and now is that then President Nixon was hiding audio tapes to hide his lies - and today George W. Bush is hiding e-mails to hide his lies. Hopefully, this leap of technology will not confuse the Supreme Court Justices when they argue the Constitutional difference between information recorded on magnetic tape verses that recorded electronically. E-mails can be buried, but they never die. Additionally, there appears to be ample precedent to preclude a lengthy debate among the Justices on the relevant issues. The three Articles of Impeachment issued against President Nixon match the abuses of George W. Bush - "obstruction of justice"; "abuse of power"; and "Contempt of Congress".
What would have been different if President Nixon had remained in office for another 2 1/2 years - how much more damage will George W. Bush do if he is allowed to stay in office for another 1 1/2 years? What is at stake?
The future of our country - and the rule of law.
Since the "strategic surge to protect American freedoms" began in February, 2007, about 100 U.S. soldiers are being killed every month in George W. Bush's Wars - and probably ten times or more Iraqi and Afghani civilians are being slaughtered each month. By September, 2007, 200 more American soldiers will be dead. By February, 2008, the date of the Presidential primary elections, 700 more American soldiers will be dead. By November, 2008, the date of the Presidential election, 1,600 more American soldiers will be dead. By January, 2009, when our new President is sworn into office, another 1,800 more American soldiers will be dead - and possibly another 18,000 civilians. And this is if things don't get worse. None of the leading candidates from either party has gone on the record in favor of ever removing "all" U.S. military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. Why?
Can American citizens be expected to respect the laws of our land if the President of the United States is allowed to get away with murder?
And most importantly - what message are we sending to our children by allowing this injustice to continue? What will the world be like that we are making for them? Perpetual war?
That's what some folks are banking on.
Click for Additional Reading: Pelosi, You Must be Out of Your Mind!
by John Sebastian, who is a Populist Party contributor and Constitutionalist.
"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey that no one can take for us, or spare us."
In a previous article, The Immorality of the Iraqi War, I spoke of four Linchpin basics required to yield a healthy and moral Society. Those four were the " Rule of Law", "Financial Viability", "Guaranteed Rights of Redress" and "Morality and Fidelity of our Government". Those four basics must be maintained by equal checks and balances, much as our great Constitution was designed to provide checks and balances.
The rationale was that if one of the three Governing bodies (The Executive, The Senate, and the House) tried to usurp the role of another, those checks and balances would be buffers to intercept and block the runaway Governing body, bringing it back into compliance with the Constitution. And those framers, with great wisdom, placed a fourth body to rule on the constitutionality and the application of Laws arising from the Governing bodies, The Judicial body has as its purpose the charge to interpret and rule on the what is constitutional and what is not constitutional. They are not to make law. Therefore, this body is there to provide checks and balances to our rule of law.
So what is currently the most egregious problem with our Government? I submit that the most potentially damaging problem we have today is the failure of our elected officials to observe the Rule of Law - our Constitution - especially our Federal Government officials who took an oath to uphold that Constitution and apply it in their governance. The current Executive, the Bush Administration, has promoted a movement away from the framework of our rule of law, such that this Executive, swelled with the success it has had in snubbing the law, is now emboldened enough to begin thinking of making inconsequential the Congress and the Supreme Court. In other words the Bush Bunch is flirting with freeing their governance from - the rule of law. They proclaim that to properly protect the people, they must not be constrained by - - law!
As a result, we are more and more being governed by fewer and fewer people. In fact we are perilously, if not already, past the point of no return, to becoming an Oligarchy. There are two governing agents in our United States: Those that we elect, and those who hold influence over those that we elect - A "Shadow Government", one that has great influence in policymaking and Governance, over every part of our daily lives. This Group provides Lobbyists to influence our elected representatives, spreading money, power and influence, as bribes to provide favor for the agenda of the few.
Well, if the problem is a drifting away from the Governing structure put forward by our Founding fathers - The Rule of Law, then what allows this to not only continue, but to expedite this failure of our system? I submit that the cause is A.D.D., Attention Deficit Disorder, of the American Public. We have become so "Party First" and "Spin Oriented," that truth has no place in our vocabulary. Either we are in a state of denial, or we just don't realize what the truth is.
We the Citizens of America need to return to the rule of law. Not just a law for the masses, no, we need to bring especially those we have elected into compliance with the Constitution - the law governing our government. They were elected for this purpose!
We definitely need to repeal the Patriot act, the MCA, and end the wars now. Then, we need to "strike at the root".... look at HOW the politicians wage aggressive wars, and remove their power to do so in the future: We must somehow get some veto-proof legislation in place that will forever bar Congress from abdicating their duty in times of war. And there needs to be some legislation that will forever bar a President from "deciding" what non-constitutional actions will be exercised, and what constitutional actions will be ignored.
How are we going to do this? First, we the people must strengthen our influence so that we can bring to heel the Republican or Democratic Party when they stray. Both must be made inconsequential, or at least responsive. This can be done by exercising your vote with thought. Select a third party to start suppoting; the Populist Party is one that advocates a return to Constitutional Law, and works to place representatives in Government, beginning at the Local level and progressing to the National Level. It will take some time.
Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party is willing to toe the line. It is not in their best interests to allow competition to grow and become strong. That is why they have worked together to promote legislation to make it extremely difficult if not impossible for a third party to succeed. Nevertheless, their stranglehold must be broken. As I said, they won't do it, so the People of America must take the initiative. We either must induce change or we must force change. A change of direction back to the basics.
But this Linchpin "The Rule of Law" properly enforced on the powerful as well as the weak, the rich as well as the poor, all races and classes, equally on each, to each as a private citizen, restored to its solid foundation, will be accepted by the people when there is visual evidence that the law is applied fairly and equally. When it becomes solidly entrenched, no would-be dictatorial president, senator, or congressman will be able to return to any office because the people will not allow it.
The key to taking back our country from the War mongers, the lobbyists, the immoral, is a resolve to see it through, a vision of a return to Constitutional Law, an urgency to return to what our country was founded on and what has made us the greatest Nation on Earth.
There are those who would sacrifice our greatness for personal gain. A group of those people now occupy our government. Everyone knows about Eisenhower's statement concerning the Military-Industrial Complex, but he also made the following observation:
"America is great because America is good - and if America ever ceases to be good - America will cease to be great."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower in a speech in Boston, September 21, 1953.
America has ceased to be good. Returning to the Constitution will bring us back.
by Cliff Carson, who is a freelance writer and Populist Party contributor.
A Temple to Zeus is perfectly American. It's not only allowable, but would showcase that powerful liberty which Americans acknowledge: Religious freedom. Within every U.S. city, a citizen is entitled by First Amendment rights to select whatever house of worship he or she pleases. As long as religious practice doesn't infringe on the rights of others, we are constitutionally guaranteed this right. We can select any church, mosque, temple, or shrine which appeals to individual tastes or cultural heritage. An American even possesses the right to resurrect the Cult of Isis or Apollo. . . or to invent a new religion altogether. Just as importantly, citizens retain the freedom to not practice as well.
But it's the first ten words of that First Amendment which declare, in no uncertain terms, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." A Jew can believe that eating pork is wrong, a Hindu can refuse a hamburger, and a fundamentalist Christian can believe that women came from Adam's spare rib, yet no governmental authority can impose these theological notions on the population. If, for example, within 50 years the majority of Americans convert to one of Islam's strictest sects, the individual citizen can never be forced to pray, to fast, or to destroy his non-Islamic literature.
Afghanistan's former government didn't permit this liberty. It required men to grow their beards a specific length or risk imprisonment, while the woman who refused to wear her body-length burqa robe would be publicly beaten, tortured, or stoned to death. When the Taliban were overthrown, hundreds of young men happily smiled for cameras as they enjoyed a collective shave, indulging with wild abandon a freedom that the global community would never think twice about. Others willingly chose to keep their beards in observance of religious dogma. The point is that all Afghans once again had the freedom to choose.
It isn't necessarily an insult to the faithful that religion is largely a matter of opinion and circumstance. As children, we are raised in accordance with the cultural/historical customs of our family, our villa, and our local society. If you were born in India, you'd likely be Hindu. Born five centuries ago in South America? You'd revere Quetzatcoatl.
The march of deities through history's pages has been colorful testament to religion's diversity. Bearded Zeus, mighty Thor, blood-thirsty Tlaloc, and resurrected Osiris once had legions of worshipers. In Babylon there were one hundred gods, and India's pantheon totaled in the tens of millions. This variety is not merely an ancient one; single faiths continually splinter into rival interpretations, from the Catholic-Protestant sundering to the Sunni-Shiite split. Into this already crowded field entirely new religions arise, such as Joseph Smith's founding of Mormonism and L. Ron Hubbard's controversial Scientology.
Yet there have always been those factions seeking to press their religious opinions on entire civilizations. This is particularly true among monotheistic faiths; the conviction of One God permits no other contenders. It is this philosophy which lies at the heart of religious government.
Alas, many American religious leaders resent the concept of religious freedom. What they seek is religious dominion. The late Jerry Falwell was a prime example of this; he despised America's Constitution, and desperately tried to advance dominion. Not a progressive society, but a fundamentalist one.
"If we are going to save America and evangelize the world," said Falwell, "We cannot accommodate secular philosophies that are diametrically opposed to Christian truth."
How is this so different from the words of former Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar who, before September 11, 2001, oversaw the campaign to destroy all his country's ancient Buddhist statues, some of which dated back to the second century? And what reason for this destruction? Omar explained: "I don't care about anything else but Islam."
This is not a new attitude; it is in fact a very old one. Fundamentalists like Falwell, Omar, Pat Robertson, and others of this small but deadly pathology of the global populace operate on the absolutist perception that the world breaks down into camps of Good and Evil, believers and infidels. Religious pluralism, indeed, any pluralism, is forbidden. Law comes from the "inspired" rule of the church or mosque.
Significantly, the same week of Falwell's death saw the nation of Turkey in the midst of a direct battle against fundamentalist pathology in their own government. One million Turkish citizens, backed by the military, have demonstrated against the pro-Islamist state being insidiously fashioned by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's regime. Consider this statement by Turkish business group TUSIAD: "The indivisible integrity of secularism and democracy lays the foundations of the Turkish republic." Flag-waving citizens chant that "Turkey will remain secular" and called for Erdogan's entire government to step down (he has a history of hard-line Islamic sympathies; he has been critical of secular government, has a history with a now-banned pro-Islamist group, and even served time for inciting religious riots.)
In fact, much of Turkey charges that the new government has been insidiously advancing a faith-based agenda that could destroy the progressive state currently enjoyed, and that additional pro-Islamists in other positions of power would use their veto power to tip the balance into outright theocracy and rule by Sharia, the Muslim code of law.
Despite American fundamentalist fallacies, the American republic is also founded on secularism. While the Declaration justifies revolution by invoking "inalienable rights" given to Man by a Creator or God (not a Jehovah or Allah or Ahura Mazda,) it is the Constitution that is the foundation of American government. Nowhere in its text is mention made of God, Jesus, or even a generic Creator. It is a secular document, and according to its own words, is "the supreme Law of the Land."
Thomas Jefferson said religion was "a matter which lies solely between man and his God." Therefore, the citizens of the fledgling country Jefferson helped create would have an unparalleled freedom: To seek Truth and Knowledge without the leash of government telling them how to do it.
This was a spectacular advancement for civilization, an emergence from the gloom of a Dark Age. Suddenly, a pluralist society was born that needed not fear being tortured or executed for pursuing knowledge, science, or diverse philosophies. A new age had dawned.
In much of the Muslim world, there is no liberty - only submission - to a theocratic elite. Invoking God, women are violently oppressed and shut away like lepers, scientific inquiry is stifled, and free expression is deemed an act of Satan. Much of the Muslim world seeks a global caliphate. Falwell sought a forced global Christendom. The results would be identical - except for the name of the God to whom dissidents are sacrificed, and the specific holy book being chanted while blood runs in the streets.
Fundamentalist Christians and Islamists are of the same pathology. They see Earth as a big game of Risk for supernatural puppeteers. This is why secularism must prevail. It's not about atheism or removing the freedom to worship. It's about keeping government and faith separate.
Fundamentalists are nothing less than our own Taliban wannabes. They stand for a perverse rape of the Constitutional wall of separation, theological dominion over a "land of the free." It's worse than disingenuous: it is traitorous to American liberty, including religious freedom itself.
by Brian Trent (click here for more articles), who is a professional essayist, screenwriter, and novelist; he is the author of "Remembering Hypatia>" and the forthcoming "Never Grow Old: the Novel of Gilgamesh." Brian is a Populist Party featured columnist.
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