March 19th Iraq War Blogswarm commemorates from a variety of perspectives the fifth anniversary of the launching o of the US war against Iraq.
As I feared, the day has come and I don't know what to say.
First of all the testimony of Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan is available, just not live. It can be seen at Iraq Veterans Against the War and also selections of testimony on The Real News at YouTube. I've been gradually watching in small doses. Penny Coleman's piece at AlterNet provides a very good overview of the event.
I went to Flickr to look for a picture for this post. I typed "peace" into the box, what I thought was everyone's photo's, but it turned out it was just my contacts photos. Over 260 pictures came up. My great friend pingting has lots of peace pictures up. He's an illustrator so keeps his permissions rather limited. My friend Mark Knobil is a great photographer and had plenty in the list. Global Peace Tiles won the prize for the most Peace hits. With my dozen or so contacts it's clear peace is on our on minds. We've not stopped talking about peace.
With an anniversary like this it's time to reflect. Credible estimates are that more than a million Iraqis have died in this conflict. Estimates are about 2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan, and another 2.5 million internally displaced, homeless. This is the Internet, so I can hear the screams: "Links??" But the argument seems more denial than serious. It's the fidelity to a line of success that seems so fanciful to me. Yesterday's headline from McClatchy: Cheney cites 'phenomenal' Iraqi security progress as bombing kills 40 captures the disconnect aptly. The AP tells us "Bush Says Iraq War Was Worth It." That's an opinion not widely shared across the nation. John Cole had an amusing post with a single sentence synopsis of nine OpEds The New York Times ran to mark the fifth anniversary of the war. All the sentences use the f-word, which I don't in the blog for some reason, but consider entirely appropriate in this instance. Even the some of the strongest cheerleaders are saying "We f^cked up." Yet our leaders say all's well, indeed "phenomenal." It make me want to holler.
But over the past five years, I find fault in myself for not hollering more. Still, I've not been alone in talking about peace, many have never tired of it, even when so many of us have felt so discouraged. I was very heartened to see Darcy Burner and ten candidates for national office come out with A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq (PDF)a plan which addresses forthrightly the political failures of the war and our culpability for the great harm the war's conduct entails.
Col. Patrick Lang has been a steady realist about this conflict throughout. I've never served in the armed forces, so there's always been a slight disconnect in the lens through which we see it; nevertheless he's someone I found worth listening to. He favors Hilary Clinton and praises her plan.
I support Barak Obama for the Democratic Party candidacy for president. Today Obama gave a speech about race in America transcript and YouTube video. This speech further solidified my support of his candidacy. Theriomorph is a beautiful and smart writer and her blog attracts great comments. She publishes her blog posts on Sundays. Sometimes I wait to read them, just because I know I'll want to savor them. This week she weighed in on race and gender and animosity between the Obama and Clinton camps. At face value neither Obama's speech nor theriomorph's post were about Iraq. But both are examples of talking peace genuinely. Neither is simply: "Peace, Peace" but rather the work of facing truths and understanding perspectives of others.
These false comparisons, the 'hierarchy of pain' pissing contest between oppressions which are similarly structured but not the same, the insistence on preferencing one kind of oppression over another to maintain privilege - these are defocusing tactics, and nothing more. It is never useful, it never accomplishes anything but fragmentation.Barak Obama said today:
As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems -- two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.The snippets are unfair to the nuances in both, but I think show how both theriomorph make the point that we can't wish differences away, but we can avoid distractions to our common purpose. To make peace it takes courage to face the truth and even with the fear and worry to proceed towards unity and perfection.
Perfection thought of in a Platonic way is ever elusive. But when we're thirsty a chipped cup is a perfect vessel. The outward appearance may be flawed or unexpected, but perfection holds together. Talking peace in one area aids peace in other areas. For Democrats the selection process for our presidential candidate is getting rather contentious. There's little possibility that Clinton can overcome her delegate deficit. So theriomorph and Obama are addressing necessary issues to find a way towards peace.
People are talking peace and making takes courage. May we encourage one another to end this unwise and immoral war. All of us can play a part and together we can enable peace.