Bringing the War Home (November 19, 2005)
A distant relative was killed in Iraq last week. I never met the young man, but he had joined the Marines after some college. Though he was only a second cousin to us, he was someone else's son, grandson, brother and friend. He was a real person, someone who not long ago walked the same campus and same byways as those young people who are still alive.
How easy it is to be callous or forgetful of these combat deaths. After all, it is "only" 2,100 dead in a nation of 300 million, a nation which tolerates 25,000 accidental vehiclar deaths each and every year without the slightest notice being paid by society at large. But to know someone killed or wounded in Iraq, or to even know that some measure of blood in your veins flowed in his or hers--this is not an abstraction, or a comparison of bloodless numbers.
We as a nation are calling on our young soldiers in Iraq for a daily, grinding sacrifice which on any given day may become the ultimate sacrifice of life itself. And what are we on the home front asked to sacrifice? Absolutely nothing. Do our leaders ask us to at least pay for the war, to make the piddling, pathetically tiny sacrifice of lucre needed to pay for this distant, enormous war? No. Instead, our leaders want to hide the war's cost, in treasure if not in blood, by borrowing the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to prosecute the war from foreigners.
This is the home front strategy of a deceptive leadership: ask nothing of the people at home except their continued apathy. While this leadership burdens our children and their children with trillions in unpayable debt to fund this war and their tax-cut giveaways to the wealthy, they speak only of extending the tax cuts--as if they know the American people can't stomach even the mildest form of sacrifice for this war. This is the measure of a pathetic government and an apathetic citizenry. So our leadership studiously avoids asking for any sacrifice, while it asks everything of our citizen soldiers. Tax cuts for the well-fattened pigs slobbering at the trough of gluttony, and for the citizen soldiers? More of the same: death and maiming, losses hidden behind obfuscation and the borrowing of treasure from foreigners. I am at a loss to describe the shame of such a government and such a leadership.
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copyright © 2005 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
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