Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Finally, the truth is seeping out. Contrary to how President George W. Bush has tried to justify the Iraq war in the past, he has now clumsily -- if inadvertently -- admitted that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was aimed primarily at seizing predominant influence over its oil by establishing permanent (the administration favors "enduring") military bases.
He made this transparently clear by adding a signing statement to the defense appropriation bill, indicating that he would not be bound by the law's prohibition against expending funds:
"(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq," or
"(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq."
But, if you have been asleep for the past five years, you may ask, what about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and its ties to al-Qaeda? A recent study by the Center for Public Integrity found that Bush made 260 false claims about these in the two years following 9/11. He was followed closely by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell with 254. Nor can they any longer pretend they were deceived by faulty intelligence, since hard evidence that continues to accumulate shows they knew exactly what they were doing.
Moreover, it has become abundantly clear that the "surge" of 30,000 troops into Iraq was aimed-pure and simple-at staving off definitive defeat until Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are safely out of office. Some, but not all, of those 30,000 troops are slated for withdrawal, but those who still expect more sizable withdrawals have not been reading the tea leaves. It is altogether likely there will still be 150,000 U.S. troops, and even more than that number of contractors, in Iraq a year from now.
In the administration's view, the oil-and-bases prize is well worth the indignity of refereeing a civil war and additional troop casualties. That view was reflected recently in the words of a well-heeled suburbanite, who suggested to me, "You must concede that a few GIs killed every week is a small price to pay for the oil we need. Many more died in Vietnam, and there wasn't even any oil there."
That person was unusually blunt, but I believe his thinking may be widely shared, at least subconsciously, by those Americans who are not directly affected by the war-which is to say he vast majority. It is easier to assimilate and parrot the administration's dishonesty than to confront the reality that these are consequential lies. They bring untold death and destruction-and not only in Iraq, where several hundred thousand civilians are dead and one out of six families have been displaced-but to thousands of our fellow citizens as well.
We are approaching a trillion-dollar war, while our Treasury is bankrupt, our economy is in shambles, and our infrastructure crumbles. The only things on an upward swing are the profits of oil companies...and suicides in the military.
The iniquities of war have widened the inequities in our society, stretching the gap between the haves and the have-nots. It is not right for me, one of the haves, to have so disproportionate a share of the nation's wealth and opportunity. Nowhere is this more obvious than the access to excellent health care to which privilege has "entitled" me. A recently discovered challenge to my health brought this home to me like a ton of bricks.
For the hundredth time I found myself asking, Why me?
To hear I had been invaded by cancer was a bummer. But from the very start that unwelcome surprise was softened by awareness that I was one of the lucky ones. No, not "lucky"-privileged.
A health insurance card lay in the white knapsack full of privilege that I carry around with me, usually without much awareness on my part. The voice of conscience was whispering that it is not right to be unaware. One out of six Americans have no insurance card in their knapsack or in the plastic bag that serves as their chest of drawers. Is that the America of which we were once so proud?
... and Suicide
Those detainees' hope was for the release that comes with death; I could hope for healing.
The three who killed themselves incurred the wrath of Guantanamo commander, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., who announced that the suicides were "not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare against us."
The higher power with whom I try to stay in touch is concerned first and foremost with justice and then (only then) peace. In the biblical sense, peace is no more nor less than the experience of justice.