Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Iraq Again! Oh, Hell No!

Zombie hand

“It’s alive! It’s alive! It’s alive! It’s alive! It’s alive!”

Colin Clive in “Frankenstein

 

As the United States slowly recuperates from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Americans are suddenly beset with a very real horror show: the rise of militants in Iraq, as well as the collapse of the Iraqi government. Most of us keep smacking ourselves across the face; trying to wake up from what can only be deemed a nightmare. No – a night terror. This can’t be happening. There must be some kind of misunderstanding. The media has it all wrong.

No, they don’t. It is happening. And, we’re all wide awake.

I wish that the brewing fiasco is – at best – a really cruel, heartless joke. But, it’s simply not. The blatant reality is that radical Iraqi insurgents have risen from the crypt of hate and anger to launch an assault on that nation’s fragile government and hapless military. They’ve already taken over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. It’s surely only a matter of time before they attack Baghdad.

President Obama, who campaigned in 2008 partly on the promise to end the war in Iraq, says another round of military intervention is not likely. But, almost in the same breath, he added, “We have enormous interests there.”

What happened to the good old days, when a president would say stupid crap, but still really believe it with all his heart? Many of us disagreed with George W. Bush, but at least we knew where he stood on an issue. Along with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, Bush hoodwinked much of the nation into believing Iraq had a role in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and was secretly building a nuclear arsenal. In the twisted logic that only a draft-dodging right-wing lunatic could manufacture, Bush forced the U.S. to switch its attention abruptly from Afghanistan to Iraq. Most of us level-headed folks saw the ruse clearly and still didn’t mind being labeled terrorists. We knew it was a lie. But, Bush was a puppet president for corporate oil interests (in much the same way Warren G. Harding was), so I don’t blame him completely.

But, with nearly 4,500 U.S. dead in Iraq alone – not to forget those who died from their injuries or suicide once back home – we’re faced with a bizarre quandary: sending troops back into Iraq to thwart what observers have ominously deemed the “threshold of civil war.”

Trick question: what’s the difference between the threshold of civil war in Iraq and a total conflict?

Answer: nothing!

The difference is in terminology only. Hearing military and political “experts” trying to define the two concepts is like saying there’s a difference between azure and blue. I knew a guy in college who got upset when people said he was Italian. He preferred the term “Sicilian.” Oh, of course! Silly me! And, just so you’ll know, I’m not Latino. I’m Hispanic! ¿Entiendes?

The U.S. put itself into a quixotic situation with Iraq more than three decades ago when it began funding its war with Iran. That came to an abrupt end in 1988, when Saddam Hussein launched a genocidal chemical attack on Kurdistan. The U.S. also placed itself in a quagmire with Afghanistan when it supported mujahideen rebels in their valiant fight against the former Soviet Union – and then forgot about the Afghan people. One nation doesn’t make a promise of that magnitude to another nation without owning up to it.

If, by some wretched chance, we do send our military back into Iraq, here’s what I’d like to see happen:

  • Initiate a military draft. Every 18-25 able bodied person (including women, Jews, Mormons, conservative Republicans and rich kids) will have to serve in some kind of capacity. No exceptions!
  • Raise taxes on the wealthiest 5% of American citizens. Since many of them are the ones who propagated the war in Iraq and subsequently benefited from it, we need half of their income to go into Pentagon coffers.
  • Cease all foreign aid. This includes Israel. Unquestionable financial and political support for Israel by the U.S. is another reason for the 09/11 attacks.

It’s only fair all of the above should occur, as the U.S. roars back into Iraq like a repo man going after a late-model BMW for the third time. But, I also think it’s only fair I should be rich and famous without working too hard for it. After all, I’m attractive (in the right black light) and intelligent. Why should I struggle so hard?

Will the U.S. boomerang its troops back into Iraq? I can only hope not. But, you know how that goes.

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Shut Up and Draw

George W. Bush delivers remarks at the opening of his library in Dallas on April 25, 2013.

George W. Bush delivers remarks at the opening of his library in Dallas on April 25, 2013.

“I no longer feel that great sense of responsibility that I had when I was in the Oval Office.  And frankly, it’s a liberating feeling.” – President George W.Bush, to a high school graduating class in Roswell, New México, May 2009.

Countless numbers of Americans, especially several military families, wish we could liberate ourselves from the dismal legacy of the Bush Administration.  Unfortunately, we’re stuck with it.  But, survivors of military personnel killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars bear relentless pain and anguish.  Anyone who enters the military has to accept the fact that they could be called to war and therefore, prepares as best they can for it.  Their parents, spouses, children and other relatives try to prepare themselves, too.  But, it’s still not easy losing a loved one to a foreign conflict.

Recently, Bush launched an initiative to help our military veterans transition back into civilian life as smoothly as possible.  My own conversations with past veterans made me realize how difficult this can be.  Through his Bush Institute, the 43rd president is imploring companies to recruit and retain military veterans, believing their tendency towards self-discipline and teamwork makes them among the best employees.

“We’ve got a problem, too many vets are unemployed,” said Bush.  “There’s what we call a military-civilian divide.”

He just figured this out?  It’s a noble cause, though.  The unemployment rate for military veterans remains around 10% as of 2013, compared to 7% for the general population.  A few times in recent years military veterans working for staffing agencies have contacted me about various technical writing positions.  The moment I hear them say they were in the military, I stop the conversation and tell them how much I appreciate their service.  It usually catches them off-guard.  But, in turn, they appreciate just hearing someone tell them that.

However, Bush has gone further and also issued a challenge to the medical community to drop the word “disorder” from the term “post-traumatic stress disorder.”  PTSD is a relatively recent term in the lexicon of psychological afflictions.  It used to be called “shell shock” or “battle fatigue.”  Many thought it was just a phase; almost an imaginary disorder.  But, it’s real and it’s painful for its sufferers and the people closest to them.

Bush, nonetheless, believes the “disorder” word stigmatizes the affected individual and makes them sound defective, or unable to be rehabilitated; therefore, he states, they may have trouble finding work in an already-fragile job market from employers who are weary of difficult people.

Gosh, how thoughtful.  It’s also hypocritical.  Like his Vice-President, Dick Cheney, Bush used just about every excuse to avoid military service when his country called upon him more than four decades ago.  An average high school student and occasional troublemaker, Bush managed to enter Yale University in 1964 and graduate four years later with a business degree.  Upon his graduation, his draft deferment ended.  The nation was mired in the depths of the Vietnam War, with public sentiment against the conflict (and the men who served there) becoming more vehement.  Still, Bush managed to secure a relatively cushy spot in the Texas Air National Guard.  Large numbers of young men were trying to do the same, and – according to some records – all of the spots in the Guard were taken.  I guess it didn’t hurt that his father was a U.S. congressman at the time.  Bush reenlisted in 1972 and was honorably discharged from the Guard two years later.  Questions remain about his level of attendance and whether or not he even completed his service.  His military records mysteriously vanished, and the Pentagon later claimed they were inadvertently destroyed.

I’ve always found that to be a rather convenient explanation.  A friend who served in the U.S. Air Force for twenty years, including several tours of duty in Vietnam, still has his military records.  All military personnel, he told me and several others more than a decade ago, are legally allowed to keep copies of them.

Dick Cheney, on the other hand, never did even that much.  He garnered five military draft deferments around the same time: four educational and one because he was a new father.  “I had other priorities in the 60s than military service,” Cheney said in 1989.

Words and actions always come back to haunt people.  I understand that no one wants to go into battle.  War is ugly and dirty; it is one of the most vile of human interactions.  But, hearing Bush trying to make nice with the people he sent to war is revolting.

The Iraq War is the crux of my anger.  It’s a conflict based solely on lies and innuendoes.  Abusing the international support brought on by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration created a tenuous link between Al-Qaeda and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.  I believe the sole purpose was to gain access to the vast reserves of oil beneath Iraqi soil.  Proof comes in the fact that Halliburton (the energy conglomerate that Cheney headed before resigning in 2000) received a slew of no-bid government contracts.  For example, almost as soon as the U.S. invaded Iraq in March of 2003, the Army awarded Halliburton a no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure.  Boots had just hit the sand and blood was still dripping while gilded corporate executives were salivating over big payouts.  While not necessarily illegal, no-bid contracts are certainly unethical and, in this case, highly suspicious.

War is fought by the grunts on the ground, but it’s waged by well-dressed power brokers in far-away skyscraper office suites whose idea of pain and agony is a paper cut.  It’s pretty much been that way for the past century.

As part of his retirement from public life, Bush has taken to painting.  He took up the hobby almost as soon as he departed the White House.  While his works may not earn him a spot in “International Artist” magazine, they’re being prominently displayed – (where else?) – in his presidential library.

In the spring of 2005, my-then supervisor at an engineering company, a coworker and I lived and worked in northeastern Oklahoma on a special project for the government agency where our firm had a contract.  We’d fly into Tulsa, rent a car and drive to the hotel in the far northeastern quadrant of the “Sooner State.”  One morning, as we prepared to board a flight in Dallas, I noticed a large group of people in military fatigues gathered nearby.  After a few moments of observing them, I approached the group and personally thanked each of them for their service.  They all seemed genuinely surprised that I – a total stranger – would do something like that.  But, it meant a lot to me that they were making such personal sacrifices.  In retrospect, I wonder how many returned alive, or at least undamaged.  I guess I’ll never know.

I’ll keep thinking about them, though, and I hope Bush just keeps painting.  He and the other clowns in his administration have done enough damage.

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Mud Sliding

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The mid-term elections are upon us here in the U.S.  That means – as has been the practice for the past quarter century – that candidates shout at the voters in declaring why the other person is so much worse than they are.  This trend gained momentum during the 2000 presidential campaign in which then-Texas Governor George W. Bush narrowly triumphed over Vice-President Al Gore.  It was the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, and Bush couldn’t have won if his campaign staff hadn’t demonized Gore and ultimately convince the Supreme Court to circumvent the electoral process and proclaim Bush the winner.  Under the direction of Karl Rove, Bush’s campaign apparently had to besmirch Gore’s reputation, since Bush had no other redeeming qualities.  He was a failed businessman, a one-time failed congressional candidate and a former part-time owner of the Texas Rangers.  His years as Texas governor were pretty much uneventful and marked by only three notable highlights: an increase of the speed limit on Texas highways; a law legalizing the right to carry firearms; and the execution of a woman for the first time in over 130 years.  That was it; that was the extent of his professional resume.  If he’d tried to run on that legacy alone – and if voters had actually paid attention to it – Bush probably would have lost to Gore.

The Rove sludge machine didn’t stop with the 2000 presidential elections though.  They went on to denounce the reputations of other political candidates, such as Max Cleland, a military veteran who lost three limbs in the Vietnam War.  Cleland, a Democrat, had served as a U.S. senator from Georgia from 1997 – 2003.  But, during the 2002 mid-term elections, his patriotism was questioned – and he subsequently lost amidst a wave of hysteria following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  That a combat war veteran who nearly lost his life should have his patriotism and thereby, his credibility questioned against a president and vice-president who used just about every excuse imaginable to avoid military service during the same period is obscene and hypocritical.  But, that’s how the Rove gang operated; they couldn’t run a decent campaign to highlight their candidate’s accomplishments.

The same questions of patriotism befell U.S. Senator John Kerry when he ran for the presidency in 2004.  Also a military veteran who had served in Vietnam, Kerry came under attack from a group called “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.”  The group of former Vietnam War veterans was convened strictly to help Bush defeat Kerry.  Financed by wealthy political donors, SBVT questioned Kerry’s credentials as a combat sailor during the Vietnam conflict and thereby insinuated that he wasn’t worthy of the Navy medals he’d received.  Among their benefactors was Texas billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens who added dirt to the mud pool by offering $1 million to anyone who could disavow the SBVT allegations.  When another group of Vietnam veterans finally proved that Kerry’s military credentials were impeccable, Pickens reneged on his challenge, saying the information wasn’t verifiable; thus proving no one is too old to be a punk.

Kerry, of course, made things bad for himself with his varied verbal fumbles – not nearly as bad as Bush, though.  At least Kerry knows how to pronounce the word “nuclear.”  Kerry initially didn’t authorize release of his military records to the public, even though it may have helped his campaign.  He finally released them in 2005.

There was a time that even I remember when a military veteran’s credibility was not something you questioned.  I also recall that politicians used to debate the issues and not each other’s reputations.  Things rarely got personal in high-profile political elections.  When they did, whoever made the unsavory accusation or dredged up some dirt from the past was pretty much shamed into obscurity.  Now, that seems to be the standard for running a campaign.

I still think the average American’s distaste for all things political began with the Watergate fiasco.  But, it reached its putrid zenith in the mid-1990s, when Republicans took over both houses of the U.S. Congress.  Already filled with vile against Bill Clinton, they did everything they could remove him from office; a scheme that culminated in Clinton’s 1998 impeachment over a tawdry sex affair.

As the political season got underway here in Texas late last year, the state Republican Party quickly found itself in a curious state of division.  In 2002, Republicans gained control over the Texas legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.  If you listened to the state GOP, they sounded like a group of impoverished Jews who’d finally defeated the Nazis in post-World War II Europe after a century of oppression and brutality.  But, the traditional Republican Party is now under attack from the “Tea Party,” a pack of extremists who formed in 2009 – conveniently – when Barack Obama took office.  The “Tea Party” clan has denounced all elected Republican officials as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).  In other words, the standard GOP isn’t right-wing enough.  It’s like Stalin calling Hitler a pot-smoking, tree hugger.  To me, the only different is that “Tea Party” Republicans haven’t gotten their required rabies shots yet and keep forgetting to wipe their asses.

It was interesting to watch Texas Republicans try so hard to out-conservative one another.  Each one (a White male) running for a statewide office lambasted his opponent as a (gasp!) Washington liberal who doesn’t support traditional (Christian) values.  Ironically, they all had two things in common: they hate Obama and love the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Televised campaign ads showed many of them on hunting trips, waving guns like they were their penises.  As a writer and left-of-center blogger, I have a fetish for the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech and the right to vote.  But hey, I’m just kind of queer like that.

Last year I lamented how voter turnouts were lower in 2012 than in 2004 and 2008.  More importantly, on average, only about a third of eligible Texas voters make a concerted effort to get to the polls.  That explains why Texas appears to be a bastion of right-wing lunacy.  The lone Democrat running for Texas governor, Wendy Davis, has already been labeled a one-issue candidate (because of her filibuster last year of a restrictive abortion bill), but questions arose recently about the veracity of her life story.  Some were upset that she had said she was 21, not 19, when she and her husband divorced.  In fact, Davis and her husband separated when she was 19; their divorce became final two years later.  Do little things really mean a lot?  That she lifted herself out of poverty by forging ahead with a college education apparently says nothing about her personal fortitude.

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Image courtesy Ben Sargent.

But, instead of talking bad about their opponent, why don’t candidates promote what’s good about themselves?  Tell us voters what good things you’ve done for your community.  Although Texas has recovered more quickly from the recent economic downturn, what ideas does each candidate have to maintain that level of productivity?  The Republican candidates despise the Affordable Care Act, but what solutions do they have for ensuring that all Texans have access to health care beyond a hospital emergency room or Band-Aids from Wal-Mart?

Is it really too much to ask that these people show some level of professionalism and focus on the issues?  I guess so.

“Ugliness creates bitterness,” former First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, a Texas native, once said.  “Ugliness is an eroding force on the people of our land. We are all here to try to change that.”

I truly wish that would happen.

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Marionette Presidency

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In his 1979 novel, Shibumi, author Trevanian (Rodney William Whitaker) told the tale of the fictitious Nicholai Hel, a Shanghai-born spy of Russian – German heritage who is the world’s most accomplished assassin.  After surviving the carnage of the Hiroshima bombing, Hel retreats to a lavish and isolated mountain citadel with his beautiful Eurasian mistress.  Everything is grand and everyone is gorgeous in this story!  But, Hel is coaxed back into the netherworld of international espionage by an attractive young woman.  Hel soon learns, however, that he’s being tracked by a mysterious and omnipotent global entity known simply as the “Mother Company.”  The “Company” is a composite of corporate giants that installs leaders in key nations – even those in the developed world – manipulates the markets for such necessities as food and oil and incites wars whenever it deems appropriate.  The conflict between Hel and the “Mother Company” becomes something akin to a board game, where millions of lives are used as toys for the benefit of a few powerful elitists.  I first read Shibumi about a year after its publication and still find it one of the most fascinating works of fiction I’ve ever encountered.  I’m surprised – and disappointed – that it hasn’t been made into a film yet.

The recent opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas made me think about the novel.  No, I don’t believe Bush is an American version of Nicholai Hel.  Hel is a polyglot and a skilled chess player.  Bush can barely pronounce such complicated words as ‘nuclear’ and looks more comfortable holding a chain saw.  It’s the notion of a “Mother Company” – a massive and ruthless international organization – that captures my attention.  It’s easy to criticize Bush, or any president, for his domestic and foreign policies.  But, in a true democracy, that one person isn’t completely in charge of the nation’s affairs.  He simply represents the totality of the country’s population, as well as the nation’s successes and failures.  And in the face of that reality, I don’t feel George W. Bush really wanted to be in that position.

I honestly believe Bush would have been content to serve two, perhaps three, terms as Texas governor and be done with public life.  But, after gaining control of both houses of the U.S. Congress in 1994, the Republican National Party was determined to take back the Oval Office, too.  They didn’t seem to have many viable candidates, so they zeroed in on Bush and – in my analytical opinion – virtually forced him into running.  He formally announced his candidacy in June of 1999, well after all of the others.  But, I surmise it was Dick Cheney – who had served as Chief of Staff for Gerald R. Ford and as Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush – who wanted to be president, or more importantly, wanted to have the kind of power that comes with it.  Yet, with a personality less fluid than a chessboard, Cheney wouldn’t have stood a chance.

The fiasco that was the 2000 presidential elections certainly caught the nation off guard.  But, its roots go back a mere three years; when Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld (Secretary of Defense under Bush, Jr.), Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Secretary of Defense, 2001 – 2005, and President of the World Bank, 2005 – 2007) and several others formed the Project for the New American Century.  PNAC had a simple mission: the United States needed to reassert itself as a global superpower, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

In its “Statement of Principles,” PNAC declared:

“As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s most preeminent power.  Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievement of past decades?  Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?

“[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.”

It’s obvious PNAC wanted the world to look and behave like the United States.  The U.S. is often viewed as the beacon of democracy, and its president labeled “Leader of the Free World.”  But, in this case, that noble brand of leadership was twisted to conform to a narrow viewpoint.  For me, proof comes in the Iraq War and the oil gleaned from the bloody aftermath.

In February 1998, Kenneth Derr, then CEO of Chevron, said, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas-reserves I’d love Chevron to have access to.”  In May of 2000, Dick Cheney abruptly resigned his position as CEO of Halliburton and moved from Dallas with his wife back to his native Wyoming.  There, the couple registered to vote, and just a few months later, Bush selected Dick Cheney as his running mate.  Federal law prohibits presidential and vice-presidential candidates from having residencies in the same state.  In 2001, Derr became CEO of Halliburton.  Halliburton was among a handful of companies that were awarded no-bid contracts to assist with rebuilding Iraq.  The U.S. Army awarded the first no-bid contract to Halliburton in March of 2003 (the same month the U.S. invaded Iraq) to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure.  The move generated enough outrage that the Pentagon cancelled that particular contract and opened up bidding to other companies.  But, Halliburton was never shoved out of the loop and eventually earned $39.5 billion from the Iraq War.

Everyone has moments of self-doubt in their chosen profession; those sad times when the pressure of doing the job right makes you question everything.  But, Bush always looked like he didn’t want to be there.  Some say his facial expressions bestowed his arrogance, while others claim it was merely self-confidence.  I think it was just frustration and – to some extent – cluelessness.  Liberals and even some moderates joked that Cheney was the real power in the Oval Office and that Bush was just a figurehead – a puppet.  But, there’s nothing mirthful about it – especially when you consider misinformation about the Iraq War was fed to the media and the American public.  The results are 4,488 U.S. military personnel casualties and 1.5 million Iraqi dead.

After leaving Washington in January 2009, Bush moved to Dallas and has pretty much stayed out of the limelight; an unusual reaction upon vacating the highest office in the land.  In contrast, Jimmy Carter made up for his dismal tenure in the Oval Office by working with Habitat for Humanity and overseeing elections in countries striving for the same brand of democracy Americans enjoy.  Bill Clinton stayed front and center of the public eye.  The Clinton Foundation works to improve global welfare through education and individual health.  Clinton even joined with his predecessor, George H.W. Bush, to provide aid to nations affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunamiRonald Reagan probably would have done more after his presidency, had he not become hobbled by Alzheimer’s.

But, Bush, Jr.?  He’s virtually been incognito.  Even after publishing his memoir, Decision Points, it’s like he slipped into the Witness Protection Program.  In a May 2009 speech to students graduating from a high school in Roswell, New México, Bush said, “I no longer feel that great sense of responsibility that I had when I was in the Oval Office.  And frankly, it’s a liberating feeling.”

I don’t fault him for that!  There’s no job like President of the United States.  As with any national leadership role, the individual is president every hour of every day during his time in office.  His movements and his words are tightly controlled and meticulously documented.  He doesn’t really get weekends off, and vacations aren’t real vacations where he could get away and relax without a care in the world.  It’s just the nature of the job; it’s impossible for the President of the United States to rest completely while in office.  It is, without a doubt, one of the most prestigious roles in the world, but also one of the most dangerous.  Presidents have to be self-confident – even a little arrogant – for sure, but it comes at great personal costs.  I recall Jimmy Carter saying several years ago that he wouldn’t take the presidency again if it was given to him.

I’m not a conspiracy addict.  I don’t see evil machinations lurking around every street corner.  I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot President John F. Kennedy and I don’t think Elvis Presley is living on a remote South Pacific island next door to Jim Morrison.  But, I do believe the integrity of the 2000 presidential elections was subverted and George W. Bush was placed (forced) into office at the hands of a few corrupt, but very powerful individuals and corporations.

Usually the brightest and most ambitious of individuals lead nations and form policies that impact the global population.  That’s just the way it is; the way it has to be.  Those things can’t be left to chance.  They don’t happen by coincidence.

But, if there is a “Mother Company” running this nation – or this planet – what is it?  The aforementioned World Bank?  The United Nations?  The International Monetary Fund?  All of them?  Or, something else.  Former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura has speculated it’s the Bilderberg Group, a Dutch-based organization formed in 1954 to encourage collaboration between the world’s great democracies.  People have debated this matter for years.

History is often written by the victors.  But, the history of George W. Bush’s presidency isn’t carved into stone.

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In Memoriam – The Iraq War

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Today marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  It’s tough to believe an entire decade has actually passed.  Any war is a sad, catastrophic affair.  But, this conflict is made even worst when we realize it was not only completely unnecessary; it was based on a pack of lies.

The nexus of the invasion was that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction,” or yellow-cake uranium from Nigeria, or something that could wreak havoc on our world.  I knew almost from the moment that President George W. Bush stood before the United Nations in September 2002 that he was lying about Hussein’s nuclear weapons capabilities.

It’s equally sad that the U.S. media followed suit with the Bush Administration’s lies, and – to make matters worse – so did much of the American public.

The Iraq War did have one clear winner: the American oil conglomerate.  Before the invasion, Iraqi oil reserves were closed to Western oil companies.  Now, it is largely privatized and almost completely dominated by foreign entities.

“Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that,” said Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, in 2007.

Then Senator and now Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pretty much agreed, when he said also in 2007, “People say we’re not fighting for oil.  Of course we are.”

The Iraq War was a long time in the making.  You only have to look back to 1998, when Kenneth Derr, then CEO of Chevron said, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas-reserves I’d love Chevron to have access to.”  Derr later became CEO of Halliburton – the same company Vice-President Dick Cheney lead until May of 2000, when he abruptly resigned and moved from Texas back to his native Wyoming.

In 2000, Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell dumped millions into the Bush presidential campaign; more than any other presidential race.  Their efforts seem to have paid off.  Less than two weeks after Bush took office, Cheney chaired the newly-formed National Energy Policy Development Group whose entire purpose was to lay out the course for America’s energy future.  In March 2001, the group outlined Iraq’s oil production capacity and produced a final report two months later.

In 2004, Bush’s first Treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, said, “Already by February (2001), the talk was mostly about logistics.  Not the why (to invade Iraq), but the how and how quickly.”

They found a way: the September 11, 2011 attacks on New York and Washington.  Dancing on the graves of the nearly 3,000 people killed in those attacks, the Bush Administration shifted attention to Iraq; accusing it of complicity in the calamity.  But, even before our troops landed in Baghdad, Cheney’s group was already making plans for Iraq’s postwar oil and energy industries.  Now, Chevron, Halliburton and several others have full access to Iraqi oil.  They must be happy – and proud.

It’s easy for draft dodgers like Bush and Cheney to wrap themselves in the American flag and cry freedom, before sending others into battle.  Like most wars, this one was commandeered by old men lounging safely ensconced in their leather chairs and fought by young people who often had no other opportunities in life, except to join the military.

Here’s what we have to show for the Iraq War:

Social conservatives always seem to find money for war – but never enough for education or health care.  Aside from the tangible costs, there are the emotional and psychological effects endured by military personnel and their families.  Nothing can replace the loss of a loved one – even if that person willingly joined the military, knowing they may never return alive.  The level of arrogance in the Bush Administration extended to the display of flag-draped coffins returning to the U.S.  In an effort to hide the true impact of war, photos of these coffins were banned from publication by the White House; a move you’d expect from the military dictatorships of Myanmar or Uganda.

Making matters worse, President Bush’s own mother, Barbara Bush, appeared on “Good Morning America” just a day before the Iraq invasion and said, “But why should we hear about body bags and deaths, and how many, what day it’s gonna happen, and how many this or that or what do you suppose?  Or, I mean, it’s not relevant.  So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that, and watch him (her husband, former president George H. W. Bush) suffer?”

God forbid if Barbara Bush’s quaint little tea parties should be disrupted by the sight of body bags on television!  I mean, that would be wrong, wouldn’t it?  I remember Bush, Jr., saying that he still listened to his mother.  Now, we know why he’s such an arrogant bastard.

A few years ago my local ABC News affiliate showed a young man returning to his home in a small East Texas town on Mother’s Day weekend and surprising his mother who worked at a Dairy Queen.  Only his father knew he was coming back, but kept it a secret, so the kid could surprise his mother.  I thought, ‘That’s who’s fighting this war: kids from small towns whose mothers work at Dairy Queen.’  Not Ivy League lawyers and Harvard graduates; not the sons and daughters of hedge fund CEOs – kids with few options in life.  Many of them are dead now; their promising futures squashed so cowards like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney can look good in the eyes of their blind supporters and large oil companies can earn extraordinary profits.

I know that the Great Creator will damn the likes of Bush, Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice for fabricating this mess and trying to sugar-coat it with layers of patriotic fervor.  Until then, I pray for the welfare of those who actually did the dirty work of fighting this war.

A family tries to leave the besieged Iraqi city of Basra March 31, 2003 in the back of a truck near a British manned bridge that had become a demarcation line. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

A family tries to leave the besieged Iraqi city of Basra March 31, 2003 in the back of a truck near a British manned bridge that had become a demarcation line. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

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Quote of the Day

“I crawled out of the swamp and I’m not crawling back in.”

– President George W. Bush, on the current presidential campaign.

Ah hah!  Now, we know where he was really born!

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Quote of the Day

“Eight years was awesome, and I was famous and I was powerful.  But I have no desire for fame and power anymore.”

– President George W. Bush, in an interview with the Hoover Institute.

I agree strongly with the second part of that statement.

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