Open Letter Over the Memorial Day Weekend
By David Peterson at May 27, 2007
As a resource for the online public sphere, Truthout's consistently U.S.-
centric point of view -- e.g., 980 U.S. soldiers dead in Iraq since
memorial Day 2006; untold commentaries lamenting how the current
regime's wars are damaging the imperial project -- not only greatly
diminishes its progressivism. But by saying us, us, us, it also discourages Americans -- Truthout's No. One audience -- from recognizing just how much damage they're causing not just to themselves, but the entire world.
That the current regime's wars are damaging to the imperial project is clear, at least in the short-term; this is why so many members of the general staff have rebelled.
But unlike the Generals and the former "intelligence"-types and the principals behind the Iraq Study Group, all of whom seek to rescue the empire before it collapses, I don't look at the planet from the trigger-end of a gun, and try to figure out how to improve its aim.
Question: Were those 980 dead U.S. soldiers dispatched to Iraq to help the Iraqis -- who happen to be doing almost all of the dying, please note well? Or were the 980 sent there as killers and oppressors? The difference is a fundamental one, it seems to me.
I know, a question like this may not make you popular at barbecues this weekend. And anybody willing to ask it probably won't be invited onto The View.
But it sure does strike me as appropriate. Something worth asking. Something that any truly progressive resource would place before the American public, front and center. Particularly over the Memorial Day weekend. (Keep it in mind for the Fourth of July, too.)
After all, does Truthout believe that the imperial project ought to be defeated? Or that it ought succeed -- just carried out even more effectively?
Think about it.
Mental Health Advisory Team IV Information (Homepage), Army Medical Department, Office of the Surgeon General
Final Report: Mental health Advisory Team (MHAT) IV, Operation Iraqi Freedom (05-07), November 17, 2006
"Mental Health Advisory Team IV Findings Released," Jerry Harben, US Army Medical Command Public Affairs, May 4, 2007
"One-Third of Troops in Iraq Support Torture, Majority Condone Mistreating Innocent Civilians," Winslow Wheeler, AlterNet, May 24, 2007
"I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty," Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Post, May 27, 2007
"Historian Reflects On War and Valor And a Son's Death," Greg Jaffe, Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2007
"Cindy Sheehan," ZNet, February 8, 2006
Update (June 17): How does one best convey what misleadingly is referred to as the human cost of the U.S. war on Iraq? (Misleading, that is, because, short of pathology, human beings and costs are categorically distinct. Human beings are never costs. Human beings are goods in themselves.)
Anyway. Does one count and memorialize the number of U.S. casualties? Does one do likewise for Iraqi casualties? For both? Is there a difference?
My own position has always been closer to the second of these two exhibits:
Eyes Wide Open, American Friends Services Committee mobile exhibit, first opened in January, 2004
Dreams and Nightmares, American Friends Service Committee mobile exhibit on life and death in Iraq
In its statement on the latter of these two exhibits, the AFSC -- as good an organization as there has been working in the States since World War I -- tells us that it is "a memorial to Iraqis who have lost their lives in the war and occupation. With photographs, names and personal stories, it conveys the unseen side of the war in Iraq -- the tragedy being experienced by everyday Iraqis. Careful estimates put Iraqi deaths at more than at 655,000 -- most of them civilians."On the other side, consider (on top of the hyperlinks I've provided above):
"The War Inside," Dana Priest and Anne Hull, Washington Post, June 17, 2007 (as posted to Truthout).
Just remember that throughout all of this important literature about the mental damage caused to U.S. troops, the point of view remains wholly Amerocentric. -- Peace, most assuredly, is not.For something truly vast, imagine, instead, what kind of mental and emotional wounds our brave heroes are inflicting on the populations of the countries that the United States has invaded.