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Examining the real cost of war


Yarmouthport Register, MA
By Joe Burns/ jburns@cnc.com

Kathy Kelly huddled with an Iraqi family in a makeshift shelter the night American bombs rained down on Baghdad.

Cindy Sheehan's son Casey was one of 1,790 members of the military killed in action in Iraq.

Mimi Evans' son has just returned from a humanitarian mission to Iraq, and she will soon be sending a second son, a JAG Marine, to Fallujah.

Three women with three different experiences and one common cause - to end the Iraq war. They came together July 28 from as near as West Barnstable and from as far as California. They came to Cape Cod Community College to participate in a public forum "Families Stand for Peace: The Truth about Iraq." They came to tell their stories to the 250 or so gathered at the event sponsored by Cape Codders for Peace and Justice.

They spoke with anger, compassion and sorrow and with a credibility earned through strength and sacrifice.

Sheehan, from Berkeley, Calif., is co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace. She read a poem her daughter Carly had written that began with the lines "Have you ever heard the sound of a mother screaming for her son?"

She echoed those words with her own emotional confession.

"I take responsibility for my son's death. I was apathetic. I will regret forever not saying 'I am so against this war,'" Sheehan said, her voice breaking; her eyes welling with tears. "No matter how much I scream and cry, I can never bring Casey back."

Sheehan also invited Kevin and Joyce Lucey of Belchertown on stage to tell the story of their son, who hanged himself after returning from fighting in Iraq.

Evans, who preceded Sheehan to the podium, shook with anger as she held a $1.99 "Support the Troops" ribbon magnet.

"What the hell does it mean?" she asked, calling a symbol slapped on the side of an SUV not nearly enough of a commitment to those who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The fact that my son is going to Iraq is not enough of a sacrifice. Our sons and daughters are fighting and dying," she declared, challenging herself and the 250 or so people in attendance to do more. She said it isn't enough to speak to one another about their opposition to the war, They had to do more.
"Are you willing to speak to strangers?" she asked. "Are you willing to get into the face of someone who says they support the war and tell them 'I don't.'"

Kelly made that commitment and then some. A two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of the humanitarian group Voices in the Wilderness, Kelly has put her life on the line time after time. Since 1996 she has made 22 trips to Iraq to bring badly needed medicines to its people, in violation of the sanctions and later in defiance of the danger of the violence and unrest.

She's been arrested 60 times and was incarcerated in Pekin Federal Prison, a medium-security prison in Illinois, for her peace actions.

Kelly's compassion and experience put a human face on the people who were feeling the wrath of reprisals for the Sept. 11 attack that neither they nor their country played any part in.

Kelly, who appeared at a book signing for her recently published "Other Lands Have Dreams," described at that signing how the war was being felt by ordinary Iraqis. "The bombs were coming down morning, noon and night," Kelly said, recalling how she sat with a family in the glow of candlelight and how after a week of bombing the play of their young daughter had become a reenactment of what was going on around her.

"She'd point her finger in the air and she'd trace an arc and she'd shout out 'taaira!, taaira!' the Arabic word for airplane and she'd fall back in her mother's arms."

Like the others, Kelly called for a conclusion to the carnage. Kelly, who hasn't paid taxes since 1980, challenged others to do the same. Sheehan, who stopped paying taxes after the death of her son, declared "Give me back my son and I'll pay my taxes."

James Kinney of Sandwich, a member of the Cape Cod Center for Peace and Justice, cited figures from the National Priorities Project that put the cost of the Iraq war at $204 billion. Other sources have estimated the cost as high as $330 billion. Kinney said Cape Codders have already paid about $195 million toward the war.
Bob Silverburg of Barnstable, a World War II veteran and a member of Veterans for Peace, read two poems - "Okinawa 1945" and "Don't Look, Don't See," a plea for the president to think of those who died.

The evening concluded with a question and answer period and as it came to a close Sheehan walked down the aisle where she was met by a member of the audience who thanked her for her comments and commitment.

"Would you thank a fish for swimming?" Sheehan asked.

"Well, keep on swimming" was the reply as the two women, strangers just moments before, embraced.

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I think we are witnessing a new gold rush, substitute the American West with the Middle East and gold with oil and it all seems pretty cut and dry. The oil traders, attorneys, and corporate heads in BushCo. are going to drag this one out to the very end. Considering the fact that other reliable forms of energy already exist and are currently in use around the globe, it's obvious that they want to continue down the road of oil until we run out; look at Europe, they have been supplementing their oil use and electrical generation for quite some time. Our government and our citizens need to get on the ball. Bush will not pull out of Iraq until they have built high walls topped with razor wire around the oilfields over there. Why the heck is oil so important? Is it because oil is the only economy base that the administration understands anymore? Are they not at all prepared for a change? Do they think that the rest of the world is going to sit idly by and continue to use the oil they capture while waiting until America is ready to convert? They can make money from new energy technologies and the industries that those technologies will bring about just as easily (and seamlessly, if conversion starts before the supply of oil really begins it's decline), not to mention the fact that there are a multitude of new energy patents which are currently owned by the big oil companies (which they hide away from the rest of us, every corporation has got to have it's trade secrets).
I often wonder what it's like to be addicted to money the way that this administration is. Money is their drug, they are so addicted to the current economy and the money they grab from it that they have gone to war with the Middle East to ensure that they are controlling the global oil economy until the last drop goes through the pipelines. The desire to be in control of the final decline of oil, if done from a humanitarian angle (saving our economy and people from possible end-of era regression) could be looked at from the perspective that the end justifies the means, but when done in the manner that BushCo. has, (lying, covering up or otherwise changing facts, ignoring questions asked of it's citizens and press) it seems more along the lines of deceitful corporate money-grabbing and self interest. If they don't act soon the aforementioned patents the energy corporations hold wont mean squat. It's going to take a good amount of the remaining oil to fabricate the opening salvo of new industrial machinery and the equipment necessary to convert, being that it currently takes the usage of oil to allow today's industry to function. Considering the track record of the administration, it's unlikely that they have any such plan in mind. They are far too unwilling to listen to reason, and why should they? They are here for the quick money, the easy money that they are accustomed to and so enamored by.
If our country could either get off the current electricity grids and create one hundred percent of the power our homes consume or enact a law requiring our utility companies to make the switch then it seems to me that would cut our dependence on oil by nearly half which would allow for more time to develop new resources for transportation. It would be optimal to convert both utilities and transportation on a concurrent time frame, however there would be less shake up within the global economy if one commitment was executed prior to the other. Some companies, like Toyota have their own time frame, they have announced an additional 10 hybrid vehicles to their lineup over the next decade, seen here: http://biz.yahoo.com/usat/050803/13023716.html?.v=2. Maybe we'll all be able to buy John Deere wind generators from Home Depot in the near future! Not really soon enough, but Deere is doing something nonetheless. Here's a bit from Renewable Energy Access: http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=34959.

-Ben
bentpatriot@yahoo.com

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