Tuesday, September 27, 2005

THROWING MONEY

For several generations, the differences between the Democrats and the Republicans have boiled down to the Republican claim that Democrats believe they can solve problems by "throwing money at them". Now, that claim has been totally disproven by the spectacle of billions of dollars being thrown at any problem that arises, with the "bipartisan cooperation" of both parties in Congress. Even the fiscally conservative "old guard" of the Republican party have accused Mr. Bush of "spending money like a drunken sailor" as over a billion dollars a week are authorized for the Iraq war and spent for no-bid contracts for administration cronies.
The sad part is that the money which is being thrown always appears to land in somebody's pocket without accomplishing the work for which it was intended. We now learn that some two billion dollars, appropriated for the purpose of training and arming Iraqi troops to take over security so that our troops can come home, has vanished into thin air, leaving a residue of metallic junk which is not worth a fraction of the money and is so bad that it is un-usable. The legitimate government figures in Iraq are mad as hell and who could blame them? At the instigation of the United States a large number of Iraqi expatriots were trucked into that unfortunate nation and placed by us into positions of power over the purse. One might suggest that a good place to start looking for those missing dollars would be in the international banking accounts of these wannabe Iraqi leaders.
With the near-total destruction of New Orleans, we are seeing the same patterns. While the National Guard were just organizing to find and rescue trapped citizens from their dxevastated homes and to deliver food and water to the trapped victims, a no-bid contract was let for Kellogg, Brown & Root to re-build the refineries and other oil-producing facilities. When the power companies were working around the clock to restore power to hospitals and other vital facilities, calls were made by Vice-President Cheney to order them to change the priorities to restoring power to the pipelines. It's a matter of setting "priorities".
This policy of prioritizing all privileges to the multi-national corporations and adminstration cronies has been standard practice since the beginning of this administration. Money is borrowed by the billions from foreign nations and pounded down the rathole into the bottomless pockets of the super-rich and the bill left to be paid by future generations of the American working class. And yet we are hit with more and unceasing demands for more tax cuts for the rich while the President cancels the Davis-Bacon regulation which would require the holders of those no-bid contracts to pay the "prevailing wage". It appears that they belive that $9.00 an hour is too much to pay for labor and more than enough for a man to be able to support his family while rebuilding his destroyed home.
In the meantime, while "throwing money" at the Iraq war and the New Orleans rebuilding, the President has woefully under-funded his No Child Left Behind initiative and is vowing that we will have to "save money" on domestic spending while going full-speed-ahead on the revocation of the estate tax which applies only to the very wealthiest among us. It is probably too late for this "poor little rich boy" to learn that there is a limit to available money. He has maxed out the national credit card and put the government of the mightiest nation in the world into bankruptcy, yet he sees no reason to quit spending. Even his Poppy and Uncle Dick do not have enough money between them to pay the bill. Instead of letting the people who have the privileges pay for them, he is throwing them all our lunch money and telling us that we will just have to work harder or go hungry.
While old-line conservatives are pleading for spending cuts to come from all the pork that was loaded into the "highway bill", and Democrats are pleading for a tax cut roll-back, Bush wants to cut "non-essential" programs like food stamps, school lunches, and education. Even delaying the Medicare Prescription program will not be considered even though, in my opinion, it is a tax of the poor and retired directed to the insurance companies, adding premiums, deductibles and co-payments far all but the current Medicaid recipients and which would, in fact, increase the cost for most of the median income purchasers of medications.
Now, that the sacred State of Texas has been damaged, we will see further instances of "throwing money at the problem" and everyone in the middle- and lower-income classes will feel intense pain. The total conversion of "United We Stand" to "Every Man For Himself" will have been completed and the once-proud United States of America will return to the age of Charles Dickens. When I was a youngster, we would have called these actions treason. When I was a Republican, we would have made Mr. President the honored guest at a tar and feathers party. Sometimes "progress" is not necessarily a good thing.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Borrowed from a good friend

The Guerrilla Campaign
09/17/2005 09:52:15
the Guerrilla Campaign
Beyond Dimensions
the archive
No War But Class War!By Beth MooreInformation Clearing Househttp://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article10273.htm
09/14/05 "ICH" -- -- Look upon the city of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast now, and you see the true face of capitalism. Look upon the tens of thousands of people who were abandoned, displaced, and then even disparaged by our government and its media minions for being trapped there by poverty, age, youth, or disability. They lived for days on end with no food, water, or shelter. They lived amidst corpses and raw sewage, seeing the ill and elderly die with nothing but the odd blanket or sheet with which to cover their bodies, watching babies being born with only contaminated water in which to wash their tiny bodies, and being promised that help would come tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, until tomorrow never came for thousands.
What you see, in the majority of those people, is the productive labor force that kept that city alive before Hurricane Katrina. You see the people who rang up the sales of goods they could never, in their wildest dreams, afford, who waited and bussed tables, cleaned houses, cared for the children of the wealthy, and generally did all the work of a service industry that keeps a tourist city alive. These are the people whose work produced the wealth of those who were able to leave the city in safety. When, after days without food, water, or adequate shelter, they attempted to appropriate the goods they had generated the capital to produce, property abandoned by those whom they had supported by their labor, they were shot at, vilified, and defined as criminals.
Yes, look at New Orleans, and you see the cold and cynical face of capitalism. Our right-wing ruling class condemns the teaching of evolution, because it seems to contradict the "Holy Bible" and the words of Jesus Christ, in whom they profess to believe, but their brand of capitalism embodies the most cruel and soulless application of Social Darwinism.
For whom does that process favorably select? It selects for the survival of those who produce nothing of substance. It favors those who, by inclination and aptitude, take from society, and from those whom they rule more than they ever return. It selects favorably for those whose bottomless appetites, ruthless will to power, and insatiable greed, threaten the survival of our entire planet.
I grew up in Texas, and have lived in the Southern United States all my life. I immediately understood what the footage shown, and the reports of violence, looting, and lawlessness were meant to communicate, and the effect they were meant to have. Yes, the vast majority of faces I saw on the news coverage were black, and although few in this country would openly admit to racism, I understood very well the "spin" that the ruling class that controls the news media intended to communicate, even subliminally.
The majority of the faces I saw on the streets of New Orleans were African American. Their ancestors, as slaves, built this country, even as its original inhabitants, Native Americans (whose only sin was not having a strict enough immigration policy) were nearly eradicated by the divine imperative known as Manifest Destiny.
But I did not see "black people (I know the word that many used, whether they spoke it or not) out of control," looting and lawless. I did not see people undeserving of our compassion because they foolishly "chose" not to flee to safety, or because they are somehow inferior in their sentience and humanity.
No. Many of us saw ourselves -- working people of all races, who live from week to week, month to month, often on far less than a living wage. We saw ourselves, and our mothers and fathers and grandparents and helpless children, abandoned by those who profit from our labor, but who return barely enough of what we produce for us to afford shelter, medical care, and food.
I am not African American. Neither are most of my friends and coworkers. It may then surprise our ruling class, of both parties, that we saw our own faces, our own children, our own unburied, bloating, dead loved ones in the streets of New Orleans.
It may surprise them that someone like me, a white woman with a college degree, would see, in those thousands of stranded, desperate people, my sisters and brothers, and that my heart would break and that I would be enraged. It has obviously come as a shock to George W. Bush and his insulated cadre of neoconservative imperialists that nearly everyone I know shares those feelings. We have spoken by phone, communicated by email, talked in the break room where I work, in tears and trembling with helpless outrage, over what appears to have been criminal negligence approaching genocide.
We have known, at some level, for quite some time, that we are all expendable to this government, this ruling class, the oligarchy that covets our productivity, our taxes, and even the blood of our children for its wars for profit. Yes, we have known this, but the images and reports from New Orleans wrenched our guts and left us breathless with shock at this blatant and ruthless demonstration of that fact.
The question we've asked among ourselves over the past week, then, is "What more will it take?"
Yes, what more will it take for those of us who support the ruling class in this country with our labor, our taxes, and even the lives of our children, to say "No more!"
When I have spoken and written of a revolution of the working class against those who live from the products of our work, and who rule us by propaganda, lethal force, and murderous negligence, many have objected. Revolution is equated with violence, and often for good reason. If the ruling class resists when the people demand the power due them, and reasonable rewards for their labor, in the form, at least, of living wages, it is in the nature of that ruling class to resist with lethal force. Lethal force, in self-defense, then, has often, historically, been the only recourse for those who would demand that the power reside in the people.
Even now, those who did not leave New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast are characterized as products of a "welfare state," and as people who depended upon the government to their own deadly detriment. What the smug, right-wing pundits do not, or pretend not to understand, is the fact that resources for evacuation were not available to tens of thousands in that city. They do not understand what it means to work for the minimum wage, or even for a few meager dollars above it. A wage of $8/hour cannot pay rent on safe living quarters, provide health insurance, provide adequate food for a family of two or three, or pay for a vehicle, or even for the commercial public transportation out of a city in the face of certain disaster.
The fact is that casualties have already been sustained in this class war. The dead in New Orleans are only the most dramatic, and most recent, of those casualties. We cannot doubt that there will be more natural disasters, for which our government, if it continues in its imperial wars for corporate profit, will still be unprepared. And in the guise of a "war on terror," there will surely be more war, more resources diverted from the protection our own people, even though we pay our taxes, in faith, for that protection.
This is not the last assault upon us. It is also not the last in which the casualties will be "low-balled," by the corporate media, in which the dead and dying will be held accountable, and their lives regarded as necessary "culling" in the scheme of global corporate Social Darwinism. There will be more. There are, in fact, more being inflicted on a daily basis - silently, without media attention. The shameful infant mortality rate in this country. The incidence of homelessness. The fact that racism is one of the several "elephants under the carpet" that can then be used to divide working people along class lines, gender and race lines, and dissolve the solidarity against the ruling class that would be essential to mounting resistance toward those who practically deny us even the privilege of existence, while profiting off our labor.
It is time, sisters and brothers, for a revolution. How can we not look at the city of New Orleans and see that it is time for those of us who work and support the Bush administration, the Democrats who play polite political games with them for a chance at the same hegemony they now exercise, for us to band together and demand a new nation, an new government. How can we not understand that we are expendable? That we are merely resources that represent the capital they covet, and for which they produce nothing, but demand everything from us?
New Orleans is now up for grabs by the corporate empire, and Halliburton has been one of the first to start counting its money before the people of that city can even begin to count t heir dead. How much more do we have to suffer? How many lives? How many lies?
Give me a number. Please. Give me a number.
Tell me, please, how many lives do we, the working people of this country, have to give up. How many lives, in countries throughout the world, will it take?
One life is precious beyond accounting, but we live in a culture in which numbers of lives apparently define our response, and can be manipulated by the news media and government and corporate entities. However many figures they present to us is simply too many for me, and for many others, who know exactly why those people are dead, and then there are the numbers of the displaced, who have lost everything - hundreds of thousands. Is that not a relevant number, as well?
Give me a number. Tell me what that number will be, tell me what it will take before we will all arise and shout, with a thunder that will be heard across the world, "NO MORE!"
This class war has been waged since the first African American slave took flight from bondage, to be hunted down and killed like a worthless beast.. It has been waged since the first Native American realized the need to stop the incursion of the European invaders, and saw entire villages of women and children and elderly destroyed by the "righteous" wrath of European invaders. This war has been waged from the first strike by workers who valued their own lives, and believed that their humanity was worth more than corporate gain, and then found themselves in the sites of the guns of the corporate empire of the robber barons. It has been waged from the first time, in all those cases, that those people were injured, killed, and even set against one another by the ruling class, who hoped they would do the dirty work of culling the compliant from the defiant for them.
So it seems there are two questions here, that must be answered. How much more slaughter and mendacity and patronizing platitudes will we endure before we rise up and take the power that is ours? The power and productivity that support these parasites, is ours. What will it take for us to force them to face that fact?
The second question, and one that must be answered even by those on the so-called left in this country, who have been on vacation this summer, and who now seem primed to dialectic, but not truly visceral and decisive action, is this:
"Which side are you on?"
Beth Moore lives on the Gulf Coast of Texas with her two children. She knows which side she is on. You can reach her at bhenry1@houston.rr.com .

Monday, September 12, 2005

PAY ME NOW OR PAY ME LATER

PAY ME NOW OR PAY ME LATER

These words have been familiar for generations as regards prevention of bad circumstances from neglect. And we have certainly been negligent in maintaining our largest national waterway, the Mississippi River. We have used it and abused it by adapting its resources to the benefit of mankind without regard for the welfare of the river or the ecology that is so dependent on it. We have not paid when we should have and now we will pay, in human life, in lost resources, in blood, and in money.
The "Lazy Ole Mis'sip'" wandered its way the depth of the nation, accepting water from every stream between the Rocky Mountains and the hills of Appalachia, carrying it to the Gulf Of Mexico, in the process creating wetlands along the delta and barrier islands offshore which afforded protection for man and beast alike. One can only imagine the wonder with which European eyes first gazed up on the majesty of the environmental kingdom which this river created and nourished. But that wonder was soon eclipsed by the greed which drove them to this land, greed which caused them to use , abuse, and destroy the very things that gave life and meaning to it all. Over the years, as shipping became more important and larger ships were built to carry the resources of the world to our shores, it was necessary to dredge the river to allow them to pass. This dredging caused the water to flow more rapidly and, as a consequence, the delta was slowly washed out to sea.
Measures were taken to protect the "wetlands" comprising the toe of the Louisiana boot but, over time, more of them were allowed to be filled and tilled as the ever-growing City of New Orleans and the industries positioned there wanted to expand. Our government, on a non-partisan basis, came under the influence of the corporate lobbyists and continued to encroach on the demands of nature. Warnings have been ignored for decades regarding "global warming" leading to the washing away not only of the delta itself but of the barrier islands which offered some protection from tropical storms. Some three decades ago the Army Corps of Engineers suggested the re-routing of the Mississippi River shipping channel which would leave the original fork to return to its old habit of depositing the rich silt which it had carried from the Midwest to replenish the delta, the islands, and the wetlands which were the natural characteristics of the region. At the time, this salvation of the entire delta region and the cities located there would have cost about 10 billion dollars over a period of some ten years and create even greater possibilities for growth of the port facilities and industry.
Congress, of course, rebelled at the prospect of "profligate spending" and, in the interest of a "balanced budget", totally denied rational discussion of the problem. Since then, the funding has dwindled until, this year, the budget for the Corps of Engineers was cut so severely that they could not even have maintained the old levees by repairing the most deteriorated of their sections. Now, all the early estimates are for a cost of some 300 billion dollars just to repair the damage to the levees and rebuild a part of the structural damage caused by hurricane Katrina, and that's just an early assessment. In addition, we can expect a major Congressional authorization for a sizeable sum to compensate the insurance companies for the immense amounts they will be required to pay for the loss of private property and increased expenses for the foreseeable future in order to re-settle and absorb into the society of the rest of the country.
No amount of money will remove the horror from the memories of those involved, particularly the children who, at this formative time of their lives, suffered separation from families, literal imprisonment, starvation, dehydration, and nightmares enough to last for a lifetime. But money, and lots of it, will be required to salvage the commerce and industry that have been so well and faithfully supported by this mighty river. One recalls the old commercial for margarine where a vengeful figure appears and states, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!" She has once again proven that it is also very expensive to neglect her.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

PLENTY OF TIME

PLENTY OF TIME
by Mary Pitt

We are adjured by the Bush administration to abandon the "blame game" and concentrate on the relocation and rebuilding of New Orleans. It's over. Nothing to see here. Move on. In a sense, they are right. There is no longer any urgency. Those who are homeless and jobless will continue to survive in makeshift shelters and, eventually, be dispersed all over the country to other homes and other jobs; the dead will continue to float or simply to rot in the sun; the buildings of the once-majestic and mystical city will continue to wait for the bulldozers; and the sea will continue to wash away the now-unprotected coastline. Soon New Orleans will be but a memory of a city of commerce and industry, of huge tankers from foreign shores, of genteel hospitality and of rowdy celebrations of Mardi Gras.
The time for urgency was after the storm hit and before the levee broke. It was not that this was an unexpected occasion. The Army Corps of Engineers had been warning for years that the old levees were simply rotten and needed to be replaced. A little over a billion dollars would have protected one of the major cities in the United States. However, the money was "needed" elsewhere. There were the promised tax cuts for the rich, those who put up the bucks to get Bush into power and who would cut him off at the knees if he were to break the promises he made to them as cavalierly as he broke his promises of "compassionate conservatism" to the rest of us. Warnings of increasingly severe hurricanes due to global warming had been brushed off as being merely "junk science", when the fact was that the elimination of the pollution responsible for the condition would place a financial burden of the multi-national corporations.
The people of this nation watched helplessly as he diverted money from the infrastructure to the tax cuts and then taxed the national debt to the breaking point with over a billion dollars a week for his ill-advised conquest of Saddam's Iraq. As he reduced funding for every social program that would have protected the poor and contributed to their health and well-being, attempted to sink Social Security, and is in the process of tossing raw meat to the insurance companies with his Medicare Prescription Plan, he continues to insist that the poor little rich people should be able to leave their personal millions to their heirs tax-free! The poor man had worked so hard at all these projects that he simply had to get away for a month-long vacation. Even this was marred by the tent city down the road where people were asking why he is sending their sons, husbands, and brothers to their deaths in a war based on lies. He was, himself, but a refugee as he had to accept speaking engagements and personal appearances to escape their mournful presence.
Vice-President Cheney was also on vacation, resting from the ordeal of whatever it was that he had been doing and so, obviously were the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of FEMA. Sceretary Chertoff stated Saturday that he did not learn until Friday morning that the levee had broken the previous Tuesday! Director Brown has been busy "training" volunteers to travel to New Orleans to "help" with whatever. The Navy hospital ship that had come in behind the hurricane was laying by off the coast, waiting for the order from the President to come in and provide assistance, but the President was "too busy" at the time and the word never came. Soldiers at a nearby base could be seen playing volleyball from the few high points in the city, but there was no authorization for them to come over and help the marooned people to find their way to the hell-hole known as the Super-Dome.
The people in the "emergency shelters" found absolutely no preparation had been made for them, having to go out and forage for food and water which was firmly locked in stores and shops by the owners when they evacuated. There was no medical care and the sick and injured lay on their miserable mats or sat in chairs and quietly died, remaining there for days because nobody bothered to move them. Nearby, women were giving birth to their babies, with no water to clean them up and no place suitable to dispose of the afterbirth. Some sat outside in the sun to escape the stench of the rotting corpses and the overfowing toilets and watched the bloated bodies of their neighbors as they floated by. And the people kept coming! They swam, they walked and pushed plastic cartons before them, bringing even more sick and injured, they were hauled in by the boatload and deposited on the crowded apron to add their own filth to that which was already there. Anyone with a television set anywhere in the country was able to view their misery but we were told that nobody could reach them.
Nobody, that is, but the press! We could see that terrible situation because it was in our living rooms courtesy of the brave souls from CNN, from MSNBC, and the networks, who walked through the bedlam with their cameramen behind and documented the horror so that we could understand just how serious it had become. The fire trucks were all under water, the police were working day and night, suffering from exhaustion and infections from the contaminated water. We were told that, when FEMA cut the lines to power communcations from the city, the police chief ordered them re-connected and posted an armed guard to protect their only access to the outside. The first National Guard to arrive set up outside the city and prevented any supplies of food and water from being brought in and turned back the Red Cross contingent from entering, telling them that it was not "safe".
Much was made of the fact that there was "looting" and that a few criminals were running wild, "doing their thing", further victimizing the people who had already suffered so greatly. Those who became so desperate that they wanted to "take their chances" on getting out of the city alive were forced back into the Super-Dome by National Guard for the interminable wait for the buses that would take them to who-knows -where, separated from everything and everyone familiar and unable to learn the fate of loved ones and neighbors. Now, they are in more comfortable quarters in stadia all over the country, waiting for someone to offer them a strange home and a new job, but there's no hurry. According to the President's mother, they are accustomed to "roughing it" and it must seem like a Scout camp-out. They have no realization that there is no more home, there is no more New Orleans and, for the foreseeable future, their fate depends on "the kindness of strangers".
There is no hurry now. We can take our time in determining who to blame for what can only be described as a "major cluster-fuck", to appoint commissions to study "the problem" and to avert any possible blame from the President or his adminstration of cronies and financial supporters. During the time when speed was necessary, everyone in responsibility must have been on vacation, going golfing, or sitting by the pool. They surely never picked up a newspaper or turned on the television set. When Mr. Chertoff stated on Saturday that he didn't even know the levee had broken until Friday morning, (after three days of horror), it bore testimony to the fact that our entire federal government was asleep at the switch. The President and his appointed big-wigs stood around and slapped each other on their backs for doing a "good job", one would have thought that they had just won a war or something. It was a "Mission Accomplished" moment that fell almost as flat as the first one did. Only a die-hard, brain-washed Republican could have been impressed. The rest of us simply bowed our heads, in prayer....... or in shame.
Yes, Lord, now there is plenty of time!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Anger and Frustration - 9/05/05

I like to think of myself as a pretty tough old broad. I was born into the Dust Bowl, wasn't I? I grew up as one of the poorest of the poor, didn't I? I have made my second career of caring for the disabled and disadvantaged, haven't I? But yesterday there were two occasions when I found tears in my eyes.

The first was when Aaron Bouchard, the president of Jefferson Parish, told of his old mother being in the hospital and calling him every day, asking him to send somebody to get her. Every day he told her, "Tomoorow, Mama, somebody will come and get you on Tuesday," but nobody came. Each day he said they would be there the next day. On Friday, he said, "Somebody will be there to get you on Saturday." She drowned on Friday night.

The second was when a chopper was taking two young men off a roof. When the first one was loaded, their little brown dog was trying desperately to get into the basket with him. but they hauled him up, leaving th dog. The basket came back and they loaded the second man and I began to choke. The water was lapping at the eaves, just inches below the roof and they were leaving that loyal little friend there to drown! At the last possible second, the rescuer reached down, picked up the dog, and placed him in the lap of the man in the basket! Those tears were tears of gratitude. Imagine how many animals, loved and loving, perished in this royal clusterfuck!

This has been a week from hell, just seeing the misery on television, capped off by the sight of Chertoff, saying he didn't even know that New Orleans was flooded until Friday, and Bush, Rummy, Chertoff, and the Generals, garbling their words and lying out their asses, patting each other on the back for doing such a "good job under bad circumstances". Where the hell were they on Tuesday? I am just so angry about so many atrocities that were visited on those poor people that I can't even collect my thoughts enough to do an acceptable rant!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Inflicting Democracy

The President has declared that he intends to keep our army in Iraq until they have a "democratic constitution" and are able to maintain order. To him, this would appear to be the fulfillment of his goal to "establish democracy" but one is led to question whether democracy, that treasured method of government which is so taken for granted in our own nation, is something that can be inflicted on a nation in which it is a totally foreign and despised concept. Through the ages, the nations of the Middle East have been ruled by kings or despots of one sort or another as a loose amalgamation of tribes and religious sects with leaders who take their power from the ruling structure of each community. This is their culture and, it seems, they are as proud and jealous of its protection as we are of our own system.
The best thing that can be said about the conquest of Iraq is that we freed the people from the despotism of Saddam Hussein and they are now able to choose their own path to the future. However, that is not good enough for the administration. They insist that a Constitution be established which would, to all intents and purposes, turn Iraq into an image of the United States. This is counter to their culture and their religious beliefs and, if they are truly left to their own resources to draw up their own document, it would bear no resemblance to the government which we propose. A prime example of that is the government which we set up in Afghanistan. We happily declare their regime to be a "democracy" and yet their own "legally elected" president cannot venture outside the capital for fear of assassination, the war lords are the defacto rulers of the country, and women continue to be chattel. Apparently the only thing that is being protected from "insurgents" in Afghanistan is the pipeline construction. However, we are still 0 for 2 on the democracy scoreboard and we still must occupy the country in order to provide "security".
Actually, if we are to compare the process taking place in Iraq to the formation of our own government, we are leaving out a very important step, that of determining that there is nation-wide agreement that they WANT democracy. We know they want their independence from us but we have not suggested that they hold a vote of any kind in order to establish such a declaration as we formulated when pursuing our freedom from England. They have, however, made this wish perfectly clear in light of the "insurgency" which is increasing in intensity by the day. You see, the Iraqis refer to us as the "occupiers" and, more than anything they desire from us, they want us GONE! One might surmise that, once this task is accomplished, they might then proceed to solve their problems of government.
At the birth of our own nation, we engaged in a years-long war to drive the King's rule from our shores and only then did our leaders come together to determine the form the government of our new nation would take and to create documentation of that fact and laws pertaining to the establishment of an independent government. Initially, there was popular support for the establishment of a monarchy with George Washington at the helm but Mr. Washington refused the honor. At the end of his eight years as President of the new nation, he was urged to continue as he was the popular choice and, again, he was offered the position of King. Again he refused and departed government, setting a pattern for two-term service that lasted until the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. At that time, even our ancestors felt that they would be more comfortable with the same kind of government from which they had just won their freedom!
Thus, if Iraq is truly to have a democracy, it seems that first they must request that the United States withdraw all troops and administrative personnel from their borders; however we have not permitted such a decision, so they had to skip that part and go right to the act of forcing us to go. We should find a way to do so. There are several international agencies who could assume responsibilty for the monitoring of truly free elections wherein the people could make their own determination as to the form of their new government and their choice of leaders. Otherwise they would be quite willing to fight it out among themselves since the varying religious sects have been at each others' throats for centuries. The major problem is that the people of Iraq are not and never were a homogeneous people. They are remnants of previously separate nations who historically hated each other and engaged in bloody wars over the centuries but were held together by brutal dictators who were deliberately put in place by world powers for that purpose. If they were truly to decide their own future, we would have three different nations and, once again, competing and warring governments. They cannot agree on anything sufficiently to come together under a Federalist system which would function adequately. And throwing women's rights and human equality into the mix as a necessity to satisfy the West increases the difficulty as it is totally opposed to their fundamentalist Muslim religion.
In addition, there is the question of the form that government might take. The Shia want a "Federalist" form of government with three loosely tied autonomous regions loosely allied in a Federal government. Of course, the Shia occupy the oil-rich southern area and would become immensely rich whereas the Sunni in the central region would be reduced to finding other businesses and occupations, while the Kurds benefit by the richness of natural resources in their area. Needless to say, the Kurds and the Shia are unwilling to create a nationalized system of sharing all natural resources. Since one of our major reasons for invading their nation was to open up their oil fields to the profiteering of the American-backed multi-national corporations, we are certainly not going to be steering them toward that compromise.
If the members of the Bush administration had bothered to learn just a bit about the history and the culture of the region before invading, they would have reached the same conclusion as those in the previous Bush administration. It would have been best to "contain" Saddam Hussein, insulating his neighbors from any likelihood of harm from his aggressions, and keeping his army within their own borders. We have, under the blatant ignorance and incompetence of our own leaders, entered the same trap that proved so devastating to the earlier Crusaders. The Arab world is very easy to fight the way into. Getting out may be more difficult. Until we find a way to do just that, our sons, husbands and fathers will be reminiscent of those brave souls who gave their all in the Crimean War: "Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do.....or die!"