"...The soldiers had multiple tasks on this day. In addition to hunting insurgents and searching houses, they were to help get out tthe vote for Sunday's national elections. For the next three hours, soldiers armed with assault rifles and election flyers moved warily tthrough al-Whada's muddy streets, trying to get Iraquis to embrace democracy.
The inherent danger of the mission was driven home at 3:30 p.m. A single shot rang out and Ist Lt. Nainoa K. Hoe, the popular lleader of the 2nd Platonn, C Company, 3rd Battalian of the 21st Infantry Regiment, fell dead in the street..."
The Washington Post, Friday, January 28, 2005
We was walkin’ down this street in Iraq,
(From CNN you know where it’s at),
Hoe was leadin’, tall and proud,
When suddenly a shot rang out.
Hoe fell with a single howl,
A single shot and Hoe was down!
I ran to his side and all I saw
Were his eyes wild with shock and awe.
I dragged him away through mud and mire
With bullets splashin’ a deadly fire.
The ‘tenant was down, for good, forever,
Nothin’ I do can change that, ever.
A friend, a leader, a good man gone,
Never again to wake at dawn.
I cried, sure, but then I thought:
What’s the point of the death he bought?
The answer came like a single shot:
No point at all, it’s an idiot’s plot.
And me, and you, and even Hoe
Weren’t smart enough to say no.
Someone wryly asked if I might possibly write an objective editorial this time. He was referring to a series of Bush-bashing articles in this space, mostly concerned with the war in Iraq, and the apparently first positive news from there – the elections. He has a point of course: why not give credit where credit is due? So okay, I will. The elections were held on schedule and a relatively large number of people – eight and a half million - were courageous enough to make their way to the polls, and “only” 29 people were killed.
And the results? As expected, the Shiites and the Kurds took it all, leaving the Sunnis, who mostly boycotted the elections, probably because they foresaw the outcome, in limbo. Since the insurgents come largely from this latter group, it seems doubtful that the violence will end or even diminish soon. The newly elected Assembly could very well make the incumbent provisional Prime Minister, Allawi, permanent, if only to satisfy the Americans. This gentleman, by the way, has been described by one of his more friendly compatriots as “a thug” – but in a place where a thug is needed. The Americans call him “Saddam Lite”, but what the hell, “lite” is better than the real thing, I guess. Being objective as possible, I will say that the electoral process going on in Iraq could turn out to be a very positive result of the war – assuming that everything else falls into place. So much for giving the devil his due. What else is new?
The news of Lt. Hoe’s death, described cryptically above, is merely a footnote, and Hoe a representative of the many American soldiers killed or maimed in the occupation. He made the news because a reporter for a major newspaper wrote a human interest story about him. Over a thousand Americans have been killed (I don’t know the total casualty figures), and an estimated 150,000 Iraqis have joined them as wobbly statistics. Ironically, this is approximately the same number of victims attributed to the Asian tsunami. One can’t help wondering if there is some kind of cosmic relation between the two events. One difference is apparent: the tsunami ended with one ferocious blow, and the world is now trying to deal with its aftermath, whereas the Iraqi tsunami continues unabated.
The Bush administration claims that it is all worth it for the sake of freedom. What? Say again! A short time ago they said the U.S. invaded Iraq as a pre-emptive strike in self-defence. Now it was in order to force freedom and democracy down the throats of the suffering people of Iraq. When one excuse is proven false, you go into a huddle and invent a new one. How is it possible that so many Americans can swallow such transparent lies? Almost no one else does.
But wait, it doesn’t end there. Bush and Co. aren’t only going to make Iraq safe for freedom and democracy, but the whole world! This ambition is indeed worrying. Seymour Hirch’s article in the January 25/31 issue of The New Yorker, scarily entitled “The Coming Wars”, describes the government’s preparations for attacking Iran, mainly be giving the Department of Defence (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith) “..consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analysis and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state.”
“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” a former high-level intelligence official told Hirch. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah – we’ve got four years, and we want to come out of this saying we’ve won the war against terrorism.”
So the Americans who voted for Bush – and those who didn’t as well as the rest of the world – now have an inkling of what’s in store for them. Going back to the election that gave Bush those other four years, something that certainly surprised me, along with just about everyone outside the now infamous “red” states, John Kerry recently stated in an interview, in answer to the question: What was the most important factor that accounts for him losing – bin Laden's video attacking Bush. We were on a roll until then, he said. Things went downhill afterwards. We (SCR) published an editorial about that video before the election predicting its effect, though not to the extent that it would actually give the election to Bush. Maybe it did though. See bin Laden
“Maher Arar is a 34-year-old native of Syria who emigrated to Canada as a teenager. On Sept. 26, 2002, as he was returning from a family vacation in Tunisia, he was seized by American authorities at Kennedy Airport in New York, where he was in the process of changing planes… He wasn’t charged with a crime, but was placed in handcuffs and leg irons by plainclothes officials and transferred to an executive jet.” They (the U.S. “Special Removal Unit”) took him to Amman, Jordan, and finally to Syria (of all places) where he was interrogated under torture. I haven’t yet received the New Yorker article by Jane Mayer that describes his ordeal in detail, so this information is from a New York Times article about Mayer’s, and it’s enough.) The rational is that because torture is illegal within the U.S., suspects are sent off to countries where anything goes. Mayer calls it akin to contract killings. She asks: “How in the world did we become a country in which gays’ getting married is considered an abomination, but torture is O.K.?”
The Arar case turned out to be one of mistaken identity and he is now back in Canada and is suing the U.S. government; others similarly treated may really have had terrorist connections. But that’s not the point. The reality is that the people in the U.S. government – all the way up to the top, for this is something which could not possibly have been done without the president’s approval – are guilty of criminal acts: kidnapping and torture for starters, and they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Admittedly this is unlikely to happen because one of them is now the Secretary (minister) of Justice.
By the way, in case you haven't noticed, Bush is leading the country (and maybe the world, things being the way they are) to financial bankruptcy with tax cuts for the rich (individuals and profit-making organizations) and delirious spending.
Frank Thomas Smith