01 September 2010

Alice Embree : The War is Over

Dude. The War is over. President Obama visits with Iraq war veterans and their families at Fort Bliss, Texas, August 31. Photo from AFP.

(But don't tell the GI's at Fort Hood)

By Alice Embree / The Rag Blog / September 1, 2010
So do your duty, boys and join with pride
Serve your country in her suicide
Find the flags so you can wave goodbye
But just before the end even treason might be worth a try
This country is too young to die
I declare the war is over

-- Phil Ochs, 1966
See photos, Below.
KILLEEN, Texas -- As Barack Obama declares the end of “combat operations” in Iraq, the haunting refrains of Phil Ochs’ “The War is Over,” reverberate through my psyche. Isn’t this the second time a U.S. president has said the Iraq war is over?

We are seven years into the Second Bush Iraq War. Fifty thousand troops and that many contractors remain in Iraq. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR), a combat regiment, just deployed from Fort Hood to Iraq. The war’s not over.

It’s not over until the troops are home and the contractors' checks can’t be cashed. The war’s not over for the Iraqi people until depleted uranium no longer poses a neonatal threat. It’s not over until Iraqi hospitals, electricity, and water are at least back to the levels of operation under Saddam Hussein, or better, back to the levels of operation prior to sanctions. The war’s not over until the five million displaced Iraqis can return home. It’s never over for the families of one million Iraqi dead.

The war’s not over for the U.S. soldiers returning with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or those who have lost limbs or the use of their limbs. It’s not over for the families of the more than 5,000 U.S. military men and women who died in Iraq.

On Sunday afternoon, August 29th, Dr. Dahlia Wasfi spoke to a packed crowd at the Texas State Employee Union’s meeting hall about the human catastrophe of U.S. policy in Iraq. As an Iraqi-American, she speaks with eloquence about her father’s place of birth. With her medical background, she brings disturbing details to the discussion of civilian casualties. She minces no words in describing the occupation.
Under the façade of liberation and democracy, U.S. troops seized the country, securing the oil fields, the Ministry of Oil, the Interior Ministry (CIA), and taking the lives of thousands of people. Iraq’s rich culture, history, and valuable assets were left vulnerable to stealth and destruction. In the years since [March 19, 2003], the lack of security, jobs, electricity, and potable water have made life for Iraqis unbearable... Our obligation to the people of Iraq, to the people of America, and to the rest of the world is the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of American troops and mercenaries from Iraq.
Go to www.liberatethis.com for more on Dr. Dahlia Wasfi.

On Monday morning, August 30th, a press conference in Killeen, Texas countered the claim that the Iraq war is over. Killeen is the home of Fort Hood, the nation’s largest military base. Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth joined Dr. Dahlia Wasfi and representatives from Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Texas Labor Against the War, Veterans for Peace, CodePink Austin, and the Peace and Justice Support Network of the Mennonite Church at Killeen’s Under the Hood Café.

The common message was that the war continues. Rep. Lon Burnam got directly to the point highlighting the costs of the Iraq debacle.

The Killeen Daily Herald noted, in extensive coverage of the event, that
Burnam said he was tired of officials using the "financial back of us working folks" to fund conflicts, and quoted a 1953 speech by President Dwight Eisenhower: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
In 1966 when Phil Ochs wrote his song, the Vietnam War was not over. In fact, it was far from over. In 2010, despite pronouncements from the Oval Office, the Iraq war is not over. The families of Fort Hood’s 3rd ACR can attest to that. And there is still another war raging in Afghanistan.

[Alice Embree is a long-time Austin activist and organizer, a former staff member of The Rag in Austin and RAT in New York, and a veteran of SDS and the women's liberation movement. She is active with CodePink Austin and Under the Hood Café. Embree is a contributing editor to The Rag Blog and is treasurer of the New Journalism Project.]

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi speaking on the Humanitarian Catastrophe of U.S. Policy in Iraq, Austin, August 29, 2010, Texas State Employees Union. Photo by Carlos Lowry / The Rag Blog.

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi addresses media at Under the Hood press conference, August 30, 2010. Photo by Heidi Turpin / The Rag Blog.

Texas Rep. Lon Burnam of Ft. Worth at Under the Hood press conference. Photo by Heidi Turpin / The Rag Blog.

Under the Hood Press Conference. Seated (l-r): Dr. Dahlia Wasfi (Iraqi-American peace activist), Larry Egly (Mennonite Church), Leslie Cunningham (Texas Labor Against the War); Standing, Jim Turpin (CodePink Austin), Jack Prince (Veterans for Peace), Alice Embree (The Rag Blog), Jasmyne Thomas (Fort Hood military family member), Jeff Gernant (Iraq Veterans Against the War). Photos by Heidi Turpin / The Rag Blog.

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