1/10/04

Then and now: another war, another vibe

By Mumia Abu-Jamal from Death row

The Iraq Debacle is not the Vietnam War, by any measure, whether we look at Iraqi, or American, loss of life.

Nonetheless, the Iraq War has stirred the cauldrons of resistance, with protests criss-crossing the globe, as people spoke out against the start of the war in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. It has been perhaps decades since protests such as these have taken place. Those protests, at least in the U.S., shrank considerably once the U.S. Army invaded Iraq.

But, there are other differences.

As Vietnam was ripping the U.S. apart, some of those most opposed to the carnage and loss were U.S. servicemen, like a young man named John Kerry, then a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The infamous My Lai massacre, he charged, was "not isolated", but was one of many "crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command" [James Loewen, *Lies My Teacher Told Me* (Touchstone:1995), p. 247].

Young Kerry explained before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, in April 1971, that "Over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia." Kerry testified specifically how U.S. troops "had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam" (Loewen, p. 245).

This, Kerry said, was "in addition to the normal ravage of war" (Loewen, id.).

Speaking to the U.S. Senate just one month after an American soldier, Lt. William Calley, Jr. was convicted of premeditated mass murder of 22 Vietnamese civilians during the My Lai Massacre, Kerry's comments gave a powerful glimpse into a war that the corporate media, even then, was fond of whitewashing. Kerry's plea to the Senators was for their support of withdrawal from the carnage in Vietnam, with words as simple, as they were powerful: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Fast-forward some 30 years or so, and with the nearly 500 U.S. soldiers who have died since the Iraq Adventure, who, besides the virtual unknowns, is asking that same question? Certainly, now-Senator-(slash)-presidential candidate Kerry isn't. As a Senator, he voted for the war, and voted to fund it as well. And he, like his colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, in the House and the Senate, did it for the same reason that their forerunners did during the Johnson and Nixon administrations.

It was the politically safe thing to do.

Now the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has released a report finding, conclusively, that Iraq posed no imminent threat to the United States, and that no solid evidence has been unearthed linking the Hussein Regime with the Al-Qaeda/ bin Laden network. Indeed, shortly before the release of the think tank's report, came news that the weapons inspectors, who have been searching for weapons of mass destruction since March of last year, have quietly left Iraq.

The war, prosecuted on a lie, has achieved its primary objectives, and the fig leaf of WMDs no longer suffices.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Americans are dead, and an uncounted number of Iraqis are dead, in furtherance of an American imperial scheme to achieve mastery and dominance
over the entire region. Their deaths are but the human mulch to feed the twin trees of U.S. imperial rule and Israeli domination over the Middle East. It was an imperial demonstration war, to advertise to the region, what the U.S. is capable of.

What a difference a few decades make.

 

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Mr. Jamal has written widely about war and other issues. His latest work, *Faith of Our Fathers* (Africa
World Press, 2003) was named one of "The Most Remarkable Books of 2003" by *Black Issues Book Review* (Nov/Dec '03).]

Check out Mumia's NEW book:
FAITH OF OUR FATHERS: AN EXAMINATION OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF AFRICAN AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN PEOPLE
at www.africanworld.com

Mumia Abu-Jamal is also the author of three other books:
'Live from Death Row',
'Death Blossoms', and
'All Things Censored'.

When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice."
- Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal