A Call To Resist
By George Capaccio
30 August, 2013
I read the news today and almost cried when I discovered that Linda Rondstadt has Parkinson’s disease and as a result, has lost her ability to sing. The site I was on included a photo of Ms. Rondstadt as a young woman caressing a song into a microphone and wearing an off-the-shoulder dress. Her beauty, her youth, her Mexican lineage are all there in that compelling image from decades past. And as I reached back to the late sixties when she was performing with the Stone Poneys and I was a college senior facing the draft and the end of my well-insulated life, I couldn’t help but think of all that we have lost since then—not only the well-known list of gifted performers who left us much too early in their lives and careers but those intangible, immaterial gifts many of my generation believed would carry us forward into a radically different sort of life—one in which our common humanity and our fellowship with all living things would be the center around which the world would revolve.
Regrettably, this has not come to pass, though the dream remains, and there are many among us, old, young and in between, who continue to believe a revolution in our values remains the only goal worth struggling for. Then I turned the digital page and came to a Syrian father holding in his arms the lifeless body of his child, apparently killed from poison gas. And he is weeping for his loss and all that he and his family will never recover because the promise was not fulfilled, the dream was deferred, and the mountain top from which Dr. Martin Luther King returned recedes in the distance, shrouded over by a noxious, lethal cloud threatening to descend upon Mother Earth and all of her children. It is the cloud of ignorance, the cloud of vanity, the cloud of hubris, the cloud of deceit, and its effect is leaving us spiritually impoverished, mentally dwarfed, and half-crazy with fear and an obsessive worship of violence as the way to bring forth peace.
Now we have those dogs of war once again baying for blood in the halls of Parliament and Congress and from the hollow trumpets of our media, telling us we must hit Syria with the life-saving benediction of our bombs and missiles. And once again the US is the alpha dog, the leader of the pack, stationing destroyers in the Mediterranean, issuing threats, cobbling together a “coalition of the willing,” another name for a band of cutthroat, neocolonial pirates posing once again as lovers of humanity and saviors of the poor, the oppressed, the godforsaken “wretched of the Earth.” A glance at the historical record of these self-ordained peacemakers should be enough to make anyone weep with shame for the suffering they have inflicted, the lies they have told, the horror upon horror they have visited upon the innocent in their quest for hegemony over Heaven and Earth.
Obama and his compadres in Europe and elsewhere would have us belief their sole concern is to protect the people of Syria and punish the Syrian government for having used chemical weapons “against its own people,” though as of this writing there is no conclusive evidence to indict either side in the conflict. But the absence of such evidence will likely not stop them from carrying out their plan to bomb the hell out of Syria, dump the government, and put in its place a collection of stooges drawn from the Syrian opposition.
I cringe when I consider the audacity of these sanctimonious hypocrites drawing their red lines and proclaiming the right and the responsibility to intervene in Syria when their own voluminous rap sheets reveal the extent of their complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Secretary of State John Kerry, for example, along with his predecessor Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden voted in favor of the Congressional resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They voted for the resolution despite ample evidence that Iraq no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction and despite the fact that an invasion of a sovereign country constituted a direct violation of the UN Charter. No matter, when it came time to vote, our illustrious Secretary of State stood tall with his fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle and said yes to a war of aggression whose tragic consequences continue to eviscerate Iraq.
Recently, I phoned a family in Baghdad—a family I have known for 15 years and whom I met during my first visit to Iraq as an anti-sanctions activist. Though I have not seen this family since 2003, a few months before the invasion, we have kept in touch through regular phone calls. The head of the family is a single mother with 2 grown children and 3 still in school. During my most recent call, I spoke with her daughter “Zahra,” a young woman who was only 7 the last time we were together. Over the years, we have become quite close. Next week she will return to school after having the summer off. We talked about the situation in Baghdad—the daily shootings and bombings, the constant shortages of electricity and clean water, the rising prices for food and clothing.
“Baghdad is no good,” Zahra said. “Too dangerous. Always I am afraid when I go out. But I have no choice. This is my life. The life of all Iraqi people.”
Zahra’s mother is unable to find work and must depend on handouts from relatives and the generosity of local merchants in order to feed her family and keep a roof over their heads. She and her children have no choice but to live their lives under the constant threat of death from car bombs or suicide bombers. Certainly in this respect, their circumstances compare to those of families in Yemen and Pakistan where drones—Obama’s weapon of choice—continue to terrorize and, on far too many occasions, obliterate innocent civilians.
Car bombs, suicide bombers, oppressive poverty—these are only a small sample of the horrors that have resulted from our invasion of Iraq. Our military’s use of depleted uranium, white phosphorous, and other toxic munitions during the invasion and subsequent 8-year occupation have contributed, if not caused, an alarming increase in birth defects among Iraqi infants, particularly those born in the cities of Basra and Falluja where US forces conducted major offensives against the Iraqi resistance.
The apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria is a crime against humanity. But so too is the use of toxic munitions by the United States and its allies in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. Antiwar activists who have visited Iraq in recent years and interviewed Iraqi doctors report seeing “babies born with parts of their skulls missing, various tumors, missing genitalia, limbs and eyes, severe brain damage, unusual rates of paralyzing spina bifida. . . “ (http://www.uruknet.org/?p=m100341&hd=&size=1&l=e)
The men and women who either voted for, authorized, or master-minded the invasion of Iraq (and before that, Afghanistan) have shown no remorse for their decisions and no compassion for their victims. Yet now some of these very same people want to do it all over again—this time to the people of Syria—as though the only lesson learned from our ongoing interference in the Middle East is that there is no such thing as too much bloodshed, particularly if its their blood and not ours.
What is the difference between a Syrian father cradling the lifeless body of his son, a victim of some dreadful neurotoxin, and a mother in Iraq delivering a horribly deformed baby? On what scale does one measure the suffering of either parent? Are the perpetrators behind the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria crueler and more deserving of condemnation than the officers who oversaw the destruction of Falluja or a village in Afghanistan? And what of the countless families in Yemen and Pakistan struggling to identify the charred and scattered remains of their loved ones, killed by a US drone? Isn’t their pain just as great, their loss just as devastating?
Given the complicity of the US government in waging proxy wars and war of aggression over the past 60 odd years and directly or indirectly causing the deaths of millions of people, what is our responsibility, as patriotic citizens, now when the US is once more preparing to attack a Middle Eastern country, with or without UN authorization?
Remaining silent is not an option; we must reclaim our voice and speak out against our own country’s latest preparation for war.
George Capaccio is an activist and freelance writer. He has made numerous trips to Iraq as a member of various humanitarian organizations. His email is: Georgecapaccio@verizon.net
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