IRAQ WAR: WHEN WILL THE KILLING STOP?
By Congressman Charles Rangel
With the deaths of 21 Marines in two days this week, the body count of U.S. troops killed in Iraq rose dramatically to 1,815 and counting. Even as newspapers and TV stations broadcast the death toll, we were still counting on the churches, synagogues and mosques to show that they recognize the inhumanity of this immoral war.
Aren't there passages in the Bible, the Koran and the Torah which command that killing for a fraudulent cause has to stop? Why is no one speaking out?
At least 23,000 civilians have also died in the Iraqi killing field and the U.S. is stuck in a quagmire. With conflict surging, last May 30th Defense Secretary Rumsfeld boasted that the insurgency was "in the last throes." In the days after that insurgents killed well over 100 U.S. troops and more than 600 Iraqis.
Neither the President nor the Congress wants to talk about the death toll. Instead, we are inundated with irrational claims about the progress of "democracy" and the growing potential of the Iraqi army. While the administration indicates troop withdrawals may start next year before the mid-term Congressional elections, a Pentagon assessment reveals that Iraqi forces are nowhere near prepared to fight the rebels on their own. The dirty little secret is that no one in the administration knows how much longer the war will last and at what cost.
All of this mayhem is taking place in a fraudulent war of choice, which members of the Bush administration had planned even before taking office. There were no weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein was not involved in the September 11th attack. The Project for the New American Century documents how Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his former deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, in the 1990's, had outlined a plan for domination of the Middle East and its oil resources. The group included John Bolton, recently appointed as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. who has expressed his utter contempt for the world body. The attack on New York on September 11th, 2001, provided the excuse they needed to implement the plan.
Estimates of the level of personnel needed in Iraq and how they will be raised are marked by inconsistencies. Hawks in Congress are calling for the deployment of 50-100,000 additional soldiers, while some of our allies are planning to recall some or all of their troops.
Recruitment, particularly in the Army and Marines, is suffering dramatic declines. The military is competing with itself for certain specialties. Explosives specialists working for private companies are being offered as much as $250,000 a year compared to the $46,000 a year an enlisted soldier with the same experience can earn. The disparities are causing so much tension that last May Marines arrested 16 civilian security workers, accusing them of firing at U.S. troops.
Meanwhile, our young men and women whose economic circumstances make military service a viable career choice are dying bravely in a war with no end in sight. The outrage of it all is that no one--whether our religious and political leaders or opinion makers--seems to care.
I am struck by how casually we as a nation react to the carnage in Iraq. I worry that we are losing our capacity to feel the pain of this war for which few Americans have been called to sacrifice in any way. The silence can be deafening when a war is fought by other people's children.
One day, someone--perhaps your children or grandchildren--will ask what you were saying during the war in Iraq. What will your answer be?
CONGRESSMAN CHARLES RANGEL
Contact: Emile Milne 202 225-4365
August 3, 2005