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Between The Crosses

ZNet | Iraq
By Daniel Borgström; August 31, 2005

The Marine Corps didn't send me to Vietnam, so I came home in one piece, un-killed and un-maimed. I went on to trek around the world for a few years. Eventually I settled down to participate in the antiwar movement of that era.

But it could have been otherwise. After all, people who volunteer to fight those wars do sometimes get what they ask for. I've come to think a lot about that since this May when I attended a forum where Cindy Sheehan spoke. Cindy Sheehan is the mother of a GI who died in Iraq. “To make sense of his death I have to try to stop the war," she said. Her son, Casey, chose to go to Iraq, presumably believing that he was part of a liberation force, bringing freedom to Arabs and defending our country from terrorists.

That was also the sort of thing I believed 46 years ago when I joined the USMC.
Of course we weren't fighting terrorism back then, but I certainly believed that as a GI I'd be defending our country and our freedoms. All that and a lot more. I grew up reading books and stories about World War II: "Last Man off Wake Island," "Guadalcanal Diary," and numerous others. Not that those are bad books, but I really did buy into every military myth on the market.

However, during my four years of active duty relatively few GIs were sent to Vietnam. There were some 3,000 in Vietnam by the end of 1961 and 11,000 a year later. I volunteered to go. So did almost everyone else in my outfit, but in those days war zones were a scarce item, and the supply of volunteers far exceeded the demand. So, I spent four years walking guard posts, shining my shoes for the next inspection, doing mess duty (the thing the army calls "KP"), and stuff like that.

I got my discharge in 1963, and it wasn't until two years later that they began to increase the number of GIs in Vietnam to over a hundred thousand. I feel I made very good use of those two years--I took classes, traveled abroad, spoke with people in other countries, also read books. By then I'd begun to suspect that our government had no right to be in Vietnam; I was no longer so ready to volunteer for such military adventures. I did not return to the Marine Corps.

Having made the wrong decision the first time, it turned out I got a second chance to re-decide the matter, and this time I got it right. But I know it could've been otherwise. There's a "what if" thing that sort of haunts me. Given a somewhat different life-scenario, I might've re-enlisted, gone to Nam and gotten killed there.

What distresses me most, however, is a question that really hit me a couple of months ago when I heard Cindy Sheehan speak out for her KIA son. Had I died in Nam, who would’ve spoken for me?

My mother never encouraged me to join the USMC, but she accepted my wish to do so. On her door window she used to have a sticker reading, "My son is a Marine." Years later, she was tolerant of my antiwar views, but less supportive. She always voted Republican. It bothered me to think that if I had died in Vietnam, she would’ve continued to vote Republican.

Recently I happened to read a poem by John McCrae. McCrae was a soldier who died in the First World War, shortly after penning a short message which he left to the world. It begins:

"In Flanders Fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row."

I read on, thinking this was a very poignant antiwar poem, until I reached the third stanza, which exhorts other people to:

"Take up our quarrel with the foe"

How could he say such a thing? But the thought crosses my mind that had things gone differently, I could've been such a soldier, dying and leaving poetry urging others to continue the dying. For an awfully bad cause. (From what I can see, nothing good came out of the First World War; millions died, only to set the stage for Mussolini, Hitler and another world war.)

Not everybody gets that second chance. Supposing I hadn't. Who then would've spoken for me? This week I read again of Cindy Sheehan, somewhere out there under the hot Texas sun, camped out on the road to Bush's doorstep, demanding answers.

"I want to ask the president, why did he kill my son?" Cindy Sheehan told reporters. "He said my son died in a noble cause, and I want to ask him what that noble cause is."

More people are heading to Texas to join her in her vigil. They, and others of the antiwar movement, speak for those who don't get that second chance.


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For too long those harmed by war have had to be is our patriotic duty....Ha... Who helps those that pay a high price for their patriotic duty. My brother has spent the last 30 years disabled...his life is taking care of his medical problems... If I even quietly ask that maybe war hurts your own citizens , I am treated with contempt. Finally, Cindy Sheehan has given us a voice...and I am using it.

You said of your mother, "She always voted Republican. It bothered me to think that if I had died in Vietnam, she would’ve continued to vote Republican."
Anti-war is a good and honorable stance to take. You're fortuante to be in a country where there are people willing to fight so you can take it.
But, since you've chosen to make your anti-war postion a partisan political one, maybe you should review the facts before trashing Republicans in general and your mother in particular:
The Viet Nam war appears to have been a creation/fabrication of two Democrats (Kennedy and Johnson. We were maneuvered as a nation into WWI by Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, and into WWII by Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat (admittedly with a good bit of help from Winston Churchill). The Korean War began under a Democrat administration. Of course, it was a Republican who started the Civil War (unless you believe that the Democrats in the South were the real cause).
Using your "logic" perhaps more people should have voted Republican.


Eyewitness: Sec of State Condi Rice laughs it up at 'Spamalot' while Gulf Coast lays in tatters. Theater goers on New York' City's Great White Way were shocked to see the President's former National Security Advisor at the Monty Python farce last night -- as the rest of the cabinet responds to Hurricane Katrina...

condie is so useless anyway. She could not have added anything of use to the effort. What a waste of money that the taxpayers give her. She does not earn it.

Geepers sure hope you didn't LIVE IN New Orleans!

...... Now about those PRESIDENTIAL negotiation and relationship skills needed.....maybe you think he needs some NOW. You see if he had ANY ..........he wouldn't have PISSED OFF EVERY NATION about OIL/PIPELINES/CASPIAN SEA = petrodollars = CURRENCY WAR you FOOL! And the dollar wouldn't have dumped! And the GAS charts wouldn't have been screaming 5 a gallon BEFORE KATRINA.

Welcome to BRAZIL..have fun!

August 31, 2005 Print | Send this article | Feedback


"No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming"

By Sidney Blumenthal

In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.

An aerial view of the New Orleans airport underwater.
Biblical in its uncontrolled rage and scope, Hurricane Katrina has left millions of Americans to scavenge for food and shelter and hundreds to thousands reportedly dead. With its main levee broken, the evacuated city of New Orleans has become part of the Gulf of Mexico. But the damage wrought by the hurricane may not entirely be the result of an act of nature.

A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane published a series on the federal funding problem, and whose presses are now underwater, reported online: "No one can say they didn't see it coming ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce.

In response to this potential crisis, four leading environmental groups conducted a joint expert study, concluding in 2004 that without wetlands protection New Orleans could be devastated by an ordinary, much less a Category 4 or 5, hurricane. "There's no way to describe how mindless a policy that is when it comes to wetlands protection," said one of the report's authors. The chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality dismissed the study as "highly questionable," and boasted, "Everybody loves what we're doing."

Sign up for Spiegel Online's daily newsletter and get the best of Der Spiegel's and Spiegel Online's international coverage in your In-Box everyday.

"My administration's climate change policy will be science based," President Bush declared in June 2001. But in 2002, when the Environmental Protection Agency submitted a study on global warming to the United Nations reflecting its expert research, Bush derided it as "a report put out by a bureaucracy," and excised the climate change assessment from the agency's annual report. The next year, when the EPA issued its first comprehensive "Report on the Environment," stating, "Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment," the White House simply demanded removal of the line and all similar conclusions. At the G-8 meeting in Scotland this year, Bush successfully stymied any common action on global warming. Scientists, meanwhile, have continued to accumulate impressive data on the rising temperature of the oceans, which has produced more severe hurricanes.

In February 2004, 60 of the nation's leading scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, warned in a statement, "Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking": "Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the United States of America the world's most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy ... Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle ... The distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease." Bush completely ignored this statement.

In the two weeks preceding the storm in the Gulf, the trumping of science by ideology and expertise by special interests accelerated. The Federal Drug Administration announced that it was postponing sale of the morning-after contraceptive pill, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of its safety and its approval by the FDA's scientific advisory board. The United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa accused the Bush administration of responsibility for a condom shortage in Uganda -- the result of the administration's evangelical Christian agenda of "abstinence." When the chief of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the Justice Department was ordered by the White House to delete its study that African-Americans and other minorities are subject to racial profiling in police traffic stops and he refused to buckle under, he was forced out of his job. When the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting oversight analyst objected to a $7 billion no-bid contract awarded for work in Iraq to Halliburton (the firm at which Vice President Cheney was formerly CEO), she was demoted despite her superior professional ratings. At the National Park Service, a former Cheney aide, a political appointee lacking professional background, drew up a plan to overturn past environmental practices and prohibit any mention of evolution while allowing sale of religious materials through the Park Service.

On the day the levees burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a speech in Colorado comparing the Iraq war to World War II and himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt: "And he knew that the best way to bring peace and stability to the region was by bringing freedom to Japan." Bush had boarded his very own "Streetcar Named Desire."

Sidney Blumenthal, a former assistant and senior advisor to President Clinton and the author of "The Clinton Wars," is writing a column for Salon and the Guardian of London.

One more point.............ROBERT RUBIN; EX FED VOLVKER ALL warned BUSH AND CO...they were playing with DOLLAR FIRE! MAYBE THIS WILL BE THE STRAW that breaks the dollar/ deficit!

Uncle Al can only HIDE so much deficit! The truth is catching up with you BUSH. tick tick tick

We need more men like you to die in Iraq, while George W. sits at home enjoying his family and friends, while you die. Where are his daughters? Enjoying the good life, I'm sure.

Dear Mr:William W. McCollum

as for "logic" already did with HI _Q and mesa

have some won't you!

your 401k statements I bet they brag alot (LOL)
currency trader

In respond to William W. McCollum's comment:

"Using your "logic" perhaps more people should have voted Republican."

Did you use "your logic" when you were voting for Bush/Cheney in 2000 and 2004 elections? Well, can you see now that YOUR LOGIC is totally AWFUL??? WAKE UP SLEEPY HEAD, FACE THE REALITY!!! If you have just a little logic, you won't be such denial and ignorant, Mr. McCollum.

To William W. McCollum


How is your 401K today? Do you LIKE those gains? IF LUCKY 2% How is that interest rate on your credit card? That is only beginning. Try 14 percent coming to a venue near you. How is your mortgage interest rate, better hope you are fixed? Do you have a job? MIght not soon! Wonder how long you will have a job? WHITE COLLAR JOBS GOING BYE BYE How is your high medical expense co-pays these days? GOING UP 18 %. And how is your grocery bill expense the last 4 years? Notice the INFLATION YOU FOOL! HOW is the value of the dollar buying your goods? IT IS NOT!

OH you are a will vote r till your broke!

ANd if you plan on living in the unemployment lines they don't count you after your benefits run out..........YOU FOOL!

JUst remember there is NO INFLATION.....(oops government forgot to tell you they took out food and energy out of the inflation equation.)

You best check your 401k statements 20 year history for gains and EDUCATE YOUR MIND and FAST !

A few comments:
1. Use a spell checker and take an economics course or two. It will make you look a LITTLE less like the "unduecated fool" you called me.
2. Manage your own 401K rather than blaming the government for your inability to do so.
3. I'm not sure what world you're living in, but my mortgage rate is low and so are my credit card interest rates. Perhaps you should consider the services of a good advisor like the Consumer Credit Counseling Service.
4. I really don't know much about unemployment. I took responsibiity for my life a long time ago, got an education, got a job, saw technological changes coming, got more education, got another job, etc.
5. If you have a problem with medical expenses, shoot a tort lawyer. Or would you prefer that someone who's actually working for a living subsidize your expenses?
6. Inflation? Yes I'm paying more for things today than I did when Clinton was President. But I'm also making quite a bit more money than I did then, even considering a concerted effort by liberals to take more from me every day for failed social programs that have succeeded in doing little more than buy more Democrat votes. I already help the less fortunate by making voluntary charitable donations to organizations like the Red Cross and my church. They do that kind of thing very effectively and, besides, it's not a Constitutional power that the federal government has. But you probably don't know that, because other than the First Amendment, most liberals don't have a clue what's in the Constitution.
7. Educate your own mind. It may not be too late. The smarter you get, the better off we all are.
8. And finally, yes, I probably will continue to vote Republican. Frankly, I don't see a viable alternative.

Didn't realize we were here for spelling course(lol). and yeap i don't the take the time to edit you FOOL because I put orders down the hole for BLANK gains. You can calculate the type might just be part of YOUR mutual order. (weeeeeeeeee)

The reason I bring the because I"ll bet you WERE sitting in the market in 2000?

Already own enough degrees but geepers thanks for advice!

Yeap keep supporting BUSH and will see how YOU really ENJOY your dollars and JOBS! (NOT)

Wall Street "EYEBALLS" catch "technological changes" and CAREER moves long long before YOU! Lots of surprises in this sector!
nobody safe unless you BLANK sector!
"my credit card interest rates".....this one WILL BE laughable soon!
Manage your own 401K this one is laughable!

"got another job, etc."...YOU NEED ANOTHER ONE before its over.

By the statements stated above this depicts YOU don't understand how the market works either! NADA


currency trader

to MR: William W. McCollum

there is a little professor that gives great classes at MIT on deductive and inductive reasoning might sign up....BEFORE you find JOB SKILLS ..........sold to another ..................enjoy your java!
currency trader

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