By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
And when our enemies bring it on, the soldiers it's brought to are woefully ill-protected, many of them issued Vietnam-era flak jackets that don't stop modern munitions. While Bush is blaming his record deficit on the cost of making sure our soldiers get the best, stateside parents have to themselves buy and send working body armor to their kids in Iraq. And once the kids are wounded? Injured reservists have been languishing without proper care in sweltering cinderblock wards at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and elsewhere, where they are warehoused, waiting from four to six weeks for surgery. It took a public outcry to stop the practice of charging hospitalized soldiers for their meals.
WE'RE CLEARING TREES! Taking a page from the Israeli Army textbook on how to win friends and influence people, U.S. troops have bulldozed Iraqis' orchards if they felt the farmers weren't helpful enough in identifying the guerrillas in their midst. There's no claim the farmers are guerrillas or are aiding guerrillas, just that, since we don't know where the guerrillas are, they must. Dozens of farmers have seen orchards that sustained their families for generations plowed under by U.S. bulldozers. It may seem harsh, but why should they have due process when we don't anymore?
WE KILLED A TIGER! We haven't zeroed in on Osama or Saddam yet, but we killed a tiger. In September, beer-drinking U.S. soldiers forced their way into the closed Baghdad Zoo, where one of them decided to feed a Bengal tiger, which opted to feed on a finger. Another soldier shot the tiger dead. That's one fewer of the less than 5,000 Bengal tigers left in the world. The killing raised an international outcry but got barely a blip in the U.S. news.
THAT LEAVES MORE FOR US! Though news agencies parrot the phrase "coalition forces," it is U.S. troops who have shouldered the bulk of the war's work and danger, and they continue to do so. The "Coalition of the Willing" largely means us being willing to accept longer rotations for our troops and more undertrained reservists and National Guard members locked into active duty. While the U.S. had the sympathy and support of the world after Sept. 11, the self-righteous arrogance of Bush's foreign policy has frittered most of that away. Don't count on the world joining us in the mire of a war they urged us to avoid.
NO PHONE SEX FOR KIDS! Osama bin Laden may not feel the heat yet, but your pocketbook will. Add $87 billion to the $79 billion already spent, and Bush's war-on-terrorism detour into Iraq has cost each man, woman and child in America $575 apiece. Would you give a child $575? Hell, no—he'd spend it on gum and phone sex. Good thing it's not going directly to the Iraqi people, either. If so, each of the 22 million people there would get nearly $7,500, or $37,500 per household of five—in a country where the prewar per-capita annual income was only $1,090 per year. That was back when they had jobs, electricity, gasoline, potable water and working sewage systems, so it's a relative fortune now. Rather then let them blow it all on new date orchards, we're using the trickle-down formula, where their economy will gradually absorb the flow coming down Halliburton's pants leg.