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Sadness Reigns Ten Years Later

Ten years ago this week, I was part of a group of human beings dedicated to stopping the war in Iraq. We planned civil disobedience, we got arrested, we did community service, but the war went on.

As we mark the ten year anniversary – celebration is hardly a word we use for the destruction wrought by corporate capitalist and colonial policies – we should understand that the war was not just a tragic mistake, but an international crime against humanity and the planet.

From that frame – seeing the politicians as individuals acting with mens rea (intent) and the knowledge of the consequences of their actions. What is most infuriating, though, is that those few guilty of lying us into the war have experienced no consequences for their atrocious crimes.

Millions suffered because of these crimes. Hundreds of thousands died. Many more have wounds that will never heal. Some have been born with such tremendous birth defects from depleted uranium that their pictures are even difficult to look at, forget imagine living that life.

Recent estimates place the total cost of the war at more than $2 trillion – money that could have rebuilt our roads and schools and eliminated our student debts and gone towards building the American dream. Instead, it destroyed a land and created a new government plagued by daily suicide bombings.

The criminals who engineered this international act of aggression may not be able to travel overseas, like Donald Rumsfeld, who had to flee Paris, France because of threats of indictment for war crimes. But Rumsfeld, et al, show no remorse for their destructive policies.

Unindicted war criminal Dick Cheney said he would do it all over again. Same goes for British Prime Minister Tony Blair. George W. Bush hasn’t said much lately, but I’m sure he would join in the chorus, saying it was all worth it.

Madeline Albright, Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, famously once said the grueling economic sanctions that paved the way for a ground invasion that may have killed 500,000 children: “I think this is  a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.”

Albright, like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, have paid no price for their part in engineering policies that kill by the score. Democrat and Republican alike love the games of power and war. The players, throughout administrations, like Robert Gates, are interchangeable.

Two years ago, Gates came to Central Connecticut State University and was greeted as a hero. Lesser players in the Bush regime, like Michael Mukasey and Tom Foley, are still feted at home as heroes. They should be reviled for their failure to uphold the rule of law.

Mukasey, Bush’s attorney general from 2007 through 2009, failed to prosecute torturers. In Senate confirmation hearings in the Autumn of 2007, Mukasey acknowledged waterboarding was torture.

Yet as Attorney General, Mukasey did not indict anyone in the Bush administration for violating international law, like prohibitions against torture. It seems obvious that he would not have been appointed attorney general if he showed the slightest inclination to uphold American laws and treaties.

The Washington Post said of this loyal foot soldier: “Mr. Mukasey has demonstrated the ethical fortitude required of an independent attorney general.” He said America tortured, but he let perpetrators walk. Now, UConn Law has invited him to speak on April 16, 2013.

Admittedly, Mukasey is hardly his predecessor Alberto Gonzales, and does not have the blood of the torture memos on his hands. But Mukasey’s sanctioning of such behavior by not prosecuting his forbears shows his fealty to power. Yet we award him honors like being Day Pitney’s visiting scholar.

Our academic institutions must not be sending fawning emails about a judge and the 81st attorney general of the United States without indicating his participation in a regime of war crimes.

Same with Tom Foley, the former CT GOP gubernatorial candidate, U.S. Ambassador to Dublin and merchant of death with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. Foley never shot a weapon in Iraq. He didn’t order troops to fire on the Palestine hotel. So what responsibility does he have for war crimes?

The Hague Convention of 1899 says that occupying forces shall not privatize state-run industries. That is what Foley’s job was in Iraq. He denied it in to this column in 2010. But in news clips in 2003 and 2004, that is exactly what he and his boss L. Paul Bremer said he did.

Has Foley paid a price for leading the corporate economic invasion of Iraq? But for Bridgeport, he is governor. The commission of war crimes abroad should not create political capital here. This is how little our society has come to reckon with its role as a rogue nation, we are blithely ignorant the consequences of our actions.

Despite being in the one percent of the one percent – wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice – and being very wrong on Iraq, Foley is still considered a voice worth listening to, courted by journalists and the GOP – again – to run for Governor.

It made me sick to hear Foley say on television this week that Gov. Dan Malloy was enjoying a “Newtown” bounce in the polls.  Only a reptilian capitalist like Foley could calculate political popularity through a collective equation of blood guilt.

All of this left me sad and lonely, until I heard Arundhati Roy, the globally respected anti-war activist, on Democracy Now! Monday morning on my way to a court appearance. DN! Quoted Roy’s 2003 speech at Riverside Church in Harlem, and I will do so, too, because it made me feel sane.

Roy: “When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported al-Qaeda.

“None of this opinion is based on evidence, because there isn’t any. All of it is based on insinuation or to suggestion and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the ‘free press,’ that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests.”

Listening to her made me proud that in March of 2003, I stood with hundreds of thousands of people globally who expressed their conscience and opposed the war.

That we did not stop the invasion did not assuage me. Same with Roy. Interviewed by Amy Goodman this week, Roy reiterated her thoughts: “We are dealing with a psychopathic situation. And all of us, including myself, we can’t do anything but keep being reasonable, keep saying what needs to be said.

“But that doesn’t seem to help the situation, because, of course, as we know, after Iraq, there’s been Libya, there’s Syria, and the rhetoric of, you know, democracy versus radical Islam. When you look at the countries that were attacked, none of them were Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalist countries. Those ones are supported, financed by the U.S., so there is a real collusion between radical Islam and capitalism.”

This psychopathic violence hurts us all, Roy said, and Obama perpetuates the disconnect.

“And it’s just … a combination of such foolishness, such a lack of understanding of culture in the world,” Roy said. “And Obama just goes on … coming out with these smooth, mercurial sentences that are completely meaningless. I remember when he was sworn in for the second time, and he came on stage with his daughters and his wife, and it was all really nice, and he said, you know, ‘Should my daughters have another dog, or should they not?’

“And a man who had lost his entire family in the drone attacks just a couple of weeks ago said, ‘What am I supposed to think? What am I supposed to think of this exhibition of love and family values and good fatherhood and good husbandhood?’ I mean, we’re not morons, you know? It’s about time that we stopped acting so reasonable. I just don’t feel reasonable about this anymore.”

I’m with Roy. I don’t feel reasonable anymore. I will feel reasonable when people around me in the CT state GOP shun Foley; when lawyers at Day Pitney and professors and students at UConn Law reject Mukasey; when I see journalists doing their job and asking hard questions.

In the meantime, I’ll try to feel sane by dreaming of how to indict guys like Foley, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Bush.

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