By Johnny Barber | TruthOut
"We are at war. Somebody is going to pay."
-George W. Bush, Sept 11th, 2001.
Eleven years later, we are still at war. Bullets, mortars and drones are still extracting payment. Thousands, tens of thousands, millions have paid in full. Children and even those yet to be born will continue to pay for decades to come.
On a single day in Iraq last week there were 29 bombing attacks in 19 cities, killing 111 civilians and wounding another 235. On Sept 9th, reports indicate 88 people were killed and another 270 injured in 30 attacks all across the country. Iraq continues in a seemingly endless death spiral into chaos. In his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for President, Obama claimed he ended the war in Iraq, well... not quite.
The city of Fallujah remains under siege. Not from U.S. troops, but from a deluge of birth defects that have plagued families since the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus by U.S. forces in 2004. No government studies have provided a direct link to the use of these weapons because no government studies have been undertaken, and none are contemplated.
Dr. Samira Alani, a pediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, told Al Jazeera,
"We have all kinds of defects now, ranging from congenital heart disease to severe physical abnormalities, both in numbers you cannot imagine. There are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because weíve never seen them until now." The photographs are available on line if you can bear to look at what we have wrought. George W. Bush will loudly proclaim his "Pro-life" bona fides, and heíll tell you he believes "that every child, born and unborn, ought to be protected in law and welcomed into life." Apparently, "every child" doesnít apply to the children of Fallujah, and the "law" doesnít apply to George W. Bush.
Our soldiers, some physically damaged by IEDís, some mentally destroyed by PTSD, will pay for these wars for the rest of their days. Drug and alcohol abuse is out of control. Suicide among the troops is an epidemic. 2,916 Americans were lost in the towers on that fateful day, many, many more have perished in the intervening years.
Today we will be asked to honor the men and woman of our armed forces, but what does honoring the veterans entail? In its most recent report, The Veterans Administration estimates about 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Mental illness plagues 45% of homeless vets and 70% suffer from some kind of substance abuse. So how do you honor our veterans? Are "Support Our Troops" ribbons still in vogue? How does our government honor our veterans other than use them as political pawns in stump speeches and cannon fodder for their wars?
84,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan. While the occupation is rarely mentioned in the U.S. mainstream media, that doesnít mean the killing has stopped. On average, one U.S. soldier dies everyday. Not an enormous sum, unless it is your mother, father, son or daughter that has perished. Few Americans notice. Afghan loses are not reported. They have loved ones who grieve as well.
The American public has turned their attention to feeding their families, keeping their homes, and finding employment. But what of the $2 billion dollars per week we are spending on war in Afghanistan? What would $2 billion per week look like in our devastated communities, in our schools, in creating jobs or in caring for our elders? Politicians in both parties claim our first priority is to reduce the debt. If they were really serious, if they were honest, they would end this occupation and stop calling for cuts to Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Social Security.
And what is the price extracted from the Afghan people? Security is still a dream, even in Kabul. As I write this, 6 people have perished in a suicide bombing outside NATO headquarters, in the heart of Kabul. Several of them were impoverished street kids, peddling packs of gum to the westerners who frequent the area.
Hilary Clinton, Madeline Albright, Jan Schakowsky, and other prominent American women claim American forces are necessary in Afghanistan to protect the gains made in womanís rights. On Sept 6th, Emma Graham-Harrison reported in the Guardian that 3 women in Kabul were attacked by a group of men because of their work as television actresses. One of the women was murdered. After seeking treatment at the hospital, the two survivors were taken to prison, where they face intrusive virginity tests and possible charges of prostitution or collusion in the attack. They face long prison sentences. This is not the Taliban; this is womanís rights in Afghanistan today, rights that Hilary Clinton fears will be rolled back!
On the streets of Kabul it is not unusual to see burka clad women clutching starving children begging for spare change. Poverty and hunger is even worse in Kandahar and Helmand, areas that have seen some of the most intense fighting of the war. In southern Afghanistan 29.5% of the children are suffering from severe malnutrition. This compares to famine stricken areas of Africa, yet, officially, there is no famine in Afghanistan and hundreds of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid has flowed into the country.
In America, 35 million people are hungry or do not know where their next meal is coming from and 13 million of them are children. Who benefits from the "War on Terror"?
Read the full article at: truth-out.org