Guest Column

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    Putting a face on the war

    Arnold G. York is taking time off and will continue his column next week.By Kara Soufer

    This is a letter in response to your commentary in the April 3rd edition of your paper. I am a local housewife and mother, and would like to respectfully offer another point of view on this war.

    Speaking out and hearing many points of view is an American patriotic tradition, one that seems to have dissolved in the fear-based “war-without-end” mentality in this country since 9-11.

    Firstly, your opinion on this war feels a bit arrogant to me, in the sense that you seem to be assuming that America has the moral right to go in and violently oust a regime that everybody agrees is a brutal one. (There are dozens of horrible regimes in this world, many put into place with help from our own CIA and military, by the way. Do we go in, country by country, and overthrow them all?) After the senseless violence of 9-11, America has responded with two brutal military campaigns that have killed many, many more than died in the Towers. We, so traumatized by that September morning, held special TV shows and created glossy coffee-table books to commemorate our victims. Where is the coffee-table book for the thousands of Afghani casualties? Or the Iraqis who are dying right now?

    Secondly, the basic idea that we violently force a dictator out using depleted uranium weapons (clearly “weapons of mass destruction”) to show the world that violence and WMDs are wrong doesn’t make any sense at all. These uranium-depleted weapons, used in the Persian Gulf War, emit the most deadly kind of radiation, which remains lethal for thousands and thousands of years. The cancer and illness rates among Iraqi children since 1991 and our own soldiers of that war are alarming. Why is this crucial aspect of our activity not reported in the news? Why is it considered unpatriotic to ask questions? I love my country, I love our soldiers, I am certainly not un-American, and I want to know the whole story.

    Thirdly, the plan of getting rid of a leader by punishing his people makes no sense either. The Iraqi population has endured hellish conditions for more than a decade of brutal sanctions-estimates are that perhaps one million souls have died due to the lack of basic medicines and clean water alone. Imagine if someone knocked out Malibu’s electricity and water supply to remove an evil regime? Why punish the victims of evil with more evil? In what logic does it make sense to terrorize further a people whose only crime is living under a repressive horrible dictator? How does that hurt Saddam Hussein? He, a very rich man, is certainly hiding somewhere safe. Only the poor of Iraq, those not able to flee, are left in harm’s way.

    This is perhaps my most important point: How can we wealthy Malibuites, in our SUVs and Ugg boots and million-dollar homes, pontificate with such certainty about how to “handle” Iraq, and even divide up and “democratize” a country whose history and culture is more than ten times longer than our own? Does anyone else see how arrogant that is? Are we so nave to believe that Bush & Co. want a real democracy in Iraq? The last Arab regime to have a “democracy”-Iran under Moussadek-was overthrown by our own CIA as soon as he nationalized their rich oil fields! Clearly, what this Administration wants is not a true democracy or the well-being of the Iraqi people; otherwise this brutal, violent war and the genocidal sanctions would never have been done. The moral thing to do is to begin to explore non-violent solutions to the problem of dictators around the world. Why are those of us who want a discussion of the morality of this war considered unpatriotic? Isn’t this United States, the first country with a First Amendment, ruled by “We the People”?

    And, lastly, I urge my fellow Malibuites to really try to put a face on this war-CNN and other networks show the military angle of these events very well; however, innocent people are dying on both sides daily, lives are being disrupted, children are going without clean water or medicine, soldiers and civilians are coming in contact with depleted uranium and that exposure will likely eventually kill them. This side of war is rarely shown on TV or in print. These are human beings, with lives and families and dreams and fears just like us, who are being bombed. Aaron Brown of CNN says he doesn’t show the graphic images of the dead and maimed because they are too “pornographic.” Exactly my point. Shouldn’t we see what war really is so we can decide whether we’re “for” it or not? Why is the war so sanitized for TV?

    Iraqi lives are equal in value to American lives. All of our religions, even George Bush’s Christianity, teach this truth. Also, they all command us not to kill. They do not say, “Thou shalt not kill-unless the end justifies the means or you need to oust a brutal dictator.”

    We are only able to justify this war if we close our heart to the suffering of our fellow human beings. If there were ever a depleted uranium bomb to fall on Miami or Los Angeles or Chicago, it would be the biggest outrage of the century! One reason we Americans so arrogantly support violence is because violence rarely touches our own soil. Yet, what tactic would assure more retribution, more terrorism, more hatred and misunderstanding of the USA than wielding superpower violence to get our foreign policy objectives met? The tactic of humiliating and destroying the infrastructure of an Arab nation will only lead to more conflict and violence. Am I the only one who sees how this “war on terror” will only create more terror? Does anyone else want to know more? What domestic programs will be cut to pay for this “war without end”? I am just a housewife/mother, not on the “left” or the “right,” and I can tell there are other reasons for this liberation/invasion than what we’re told by our Administration and media. I hope we all ask more questions and think not only with our intellect, but also with our hearts.