Stan Goff: 2,000 -- WHO WILL BE THE LAST TO DIE....


By Stan Goff

I knew the number would come up, because we've been counting these numbers as part of the Bring Them Home Now! campaign since we launched it when the number was around 200. It doesn't shock me, but I find myself blindsided by my own reaction to it. The foreknowledge is nothing more nor less than knowing that human beings are being fed into this senseless killing with such regularity now that it doesn't even show up in the news until we hit these sick, decimalized milestones. And I am feeling such rage right now that I can hardly hold back the tears.

I wonder if the Bush administration is reading about this right now. I doubt it, what with indictments and the other minutiae of high office that preoccupy them.

Richard Nixon and George W. Bush had one thing in common, aside from party affiliation. They didn't read the stuff people sent to them. They relied on agenda-laden advisors.

On June 13, 1971, President Nixon discovered a story in the newspaper about one of those reports he didn't read -- a hefty collection of reports that were headlined in the New York Times as "Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces 3 Decades of Growing U.S. Involvement." Daniel Ellsberg, a former Defense Department employee then working at the Rand Corporation, had grown so restive over his knowledge of these reports, and how they proved a pattern of systematic lying to the American public about the American invasion and occupation of Vietnam, that he could no longer in good conscience remain silent. He leaked what would become The Pentagon Papers to the press.

Nixon -- surely wishing now he were familiar with the content of said papers -- slowly became aware that this leak would prove two significant things: the government lied about the war... a lot, and many experts believed by 1968 that the war itself was unwinnable. More than half of the casualties -- over 58,000 US and almost 3 million Southeast Asians dead -- occurred after 1968. After military and political experts told two administrations that the war would be lost.

We have now passed the much smaller empirical milestone in Iraq of 2,000 American dead. This figure does not include Afghanistan, it does not include other "Coalition" countries' troops dead, it does not include more than 15,000 wounded nor over 400 who have lost limbs, nor does it include uncounted tens of thousands of Iraqis (some estimates as high as 150,000). There is nothing special about the number 2,000, except what was special about each numerical increments along the way. 2,000 times now, a military sedan with two or three uniformed service members has pulled up in front of some home in the United States or Puerto Rico to deliver news that tore the hearts out of people and shattered their lives.

So this round number is just a time to remind ourselves of what is going on... and what is not.

The rate of terror attacks worldwide has tripled since September 11th, so the world is no safer. No one has "won the war but lost the peace" in Iraq -- one of the most Orwellian phrases imaginable, repeated like a drunken mantra to sustain denial about the reality of Iraq. The war has never been won. All that was accomplished was a bloody occupation. According to every poll, the great majority of Iraqis want the US occupation out, so the majority will is not being respected in this alleged attempt to build democracy at gunpoint. The military is suffering such a profound retention and recruitment crisis that it has lowered standards and even resorted to recruiting among Katrina surviors at the Astrodome. The US taxpayer is footing a $6 billion a month bill for the war in Iraq; and future taxpayers will get the bill for over $8 trillion in national debt, 40% of which is debt now owned by foreign investors and central banks.

One trillion dollars is an enormous sum of money. So we aren't just sacrificing schools and health care and decent housing, but the futures of our children... who will be approached by more recruiters for more wars if something doesn't change.

2,000 is not just a number to reflect on, then go about our business. This is the equivalent of slapping one of those yellow ribbon magnets on a car that says "Support the Troops." It's easy, and it makes people feel better about their lack of action. It really is time to recognize a few things.

The US military occupation of Iraq is the single greatest catalyst for the violence there. Fewer than four percent of the fighters are foreign, and they are there because of the US presence. Over 75% of the daily attacks are directed at Americans, though more vulnerable civilians bear the brunt of these attacks. There are around 500 attacks per week in Iraq, and the recent referendum gymnastics have not changed this one whit -- in fact, these exclusive and US-managed affairs may actually make things much worse.

It's time to face these facts head-on, and to get out of Iraq now...



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