District 8 Congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan.
Photo by Luke Thomas
By Cindy Sheehan, special to Fog City Journal
March 23, 2008
“And while the future’s there for anyone to change, still you know its seems
It would be easier sometimes to change the past.”
(Jackson Browne, Fountain of Sorrow)
I have been drinking from the fountain of sorrow for almost fours years since my oldest child, Casey (number 614), was killed in Iraq (April 4, 2004). Today, I was in Vacaville spending Easter with my surviving children and stopped on my way back to San Francisco to place Easter flowers on Casey’s grave.
And today, four more American families have been sent into the deep well of never-ending sorrow, caused by the lies and greed of BushCo and Congress, Inc. as we reach yet another unthinkable, unnecessary and tragic milestone in Iraq: 4,000 US troops killed.
In a relevant and related story, dozens of Iraqis were also killed today — many of them innocent victims in the evil US game of imperial conquest. Conservative body counts for the Iraqis (which have to be done by independent agencies since the US military does not “do” civilian body counts) is somewhere between 600,000 and 1.2 million.
Everyone in Iraq has lost a family member — many have lost multiple family members. The numbers of wounded and those maimed for life are staggering on both sides.
I appeared on a local news show on March 19th, the 5th anniversary of the occupation of Iraq. The show pitted me “against” a dad whose son was also killed in Iraq who supports the war effort. He said that we could not withdraw our troops now that the surge is “working.”
If anyone is entitled to have an opposite opinion than mine, it is a family member who has buried a loved one.
But the surge is not working.
In one example, the Sunni group The Awakening is tired of being stiffed by the US government which has apparently stopped paying off the group to not to kill our soldiers.
The Awakening is also upset that BushCo is taking credit for the decrease in violence in Iraq, when it has only happened because the US was paying 80,000 Sunnis $10 a day. I find it very ironic that we pay Sunnis not to kill while we pay US soldiers and mercenaries to kill. There is something fundamentally disordered about this situation.
After about 17 years of US-led devastation against Iraq, it is now a broken country and our military got broken breaking it. Millions of Iraqis are dead between the sanction period and the deadly reign of BushCo, and millions more are homeless refugees.
Neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed and walled off.
If the country is so safe, then I propose that Dick Cheney, John McCain and Joe Lieberman stroll arm-in-arm through Baghdad – outside of the the the heavily fortified Green Zone – without body armor, without one thousand Marines on their flanks, and without hovering Black Hawk helicopters, then I’ll believe it’s safe in Baghdad.
Iraq was a country that was easily invaded, but it has not been a country that has been easily occupied. The “geniuses” that are in charge of our country (by default) either did not know that, historically, occupations are resisted by every people that have been occupied, or they just did not care.
I suspect it’s the latter.
A country with less inhabitants than California has lost over twenty percent of its population. Any goodwill that the US retained in 2000 when BushCo took over in a bloodless coup, facilitated by the Supreme Court, has been squandered by their crimes. Billions of dollars have now been wasted on the occupation while conservative estimates place the total monetary cost of the Iraq war at over 3 trillion dollars.
Our economy is free-falling due to militarism and illegal occupations and we’re having to borrow our grandchildren’s futures from China.
George Bush is asking for another $100 billion from a Congress that is as loose with China’s money as BushCo is with our children’s lives. Americans and the corporate media are devoted to presidential politics at a moment when none of the remaining candidates are calling for a full and speedy withdrawal from Iraq.
The past for me and my family is painful and no amount of activity or activism can change it.
The future is looking bleak for our country and our world because there is really no telling what BushCo and the fascist economic elite of our country is planning for the upcoming months. However, I still fiercely believe that our present actions can positively affect our future, but there are things that we must do now to prevent the dire situation from worsening.
We are called to not just be passive voters in America, but fully participating members of humanity in the world. Nothing will change as long as we sit around wringing our hands and whining that there is nothing that we can do about the mess we’re in.
Here’s what you can do:
- Do not vote for, or contribute to any candidate that is not calling for a full and speedy withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
- Do not vote for, or contribute to any candidate who does not reject the violence of preemptive wars of aggression to solve problems, but who calls for humane and comprehensive diplomatic solutions in the Middle East, to include a fair and humane resolution to the Palestinian/Israeli crisis.
- Consider withholding all or part of your Federal Income Tax until US troops are withdrawn from the Middle East. Tax-resistance is a time-honored and courageous form of protest (purely symbolic because of borrowing and deficit spending, but I can look at myself in the mirror because I don’t contribute any of my money to the war machine).
“Simplify, simplify, simplify!”
- Reduce your dependencies on petroleum products, foreign or domestic. Too many people die for America’s love affair with cars, and too many people are exploited to pump and refine the oil we drink like sailors.
- Use the model of Brattleboro, Vt., for city resolutions on war crimes indictments against Dick Cheney and George Bush.
- Support counter-recruitment efforts to stop our children from becoming cannon fodder and paid assassins for the war machine.
- Support organizations like Conscientious Objectors and Courage to Resist, orgninzations that support our soldiers but do not want to participate in war crimes. After 5 years too many, and the indisputable fact that this is an occupation for profit, our troops should NOT participate in this farce.
- Do not patronize advertisers of corporate media and tell the sponsors why you are not buying or using their products.
- Join ILWU in its May-Day walk out for peace.
- Teach your children and grandchildren about the evils of war and violence.
These are just a few things that I can think of. I know there are many more. The most important thing that we can do is to do what we did here in San Francisco over the past week: join together in unity in all of our diversity to work for peace. We know that we cannot depend on Democrats or Republicans – we have to depend on ourselves and our brothers and sisters.
My heart and love goes out to all the families and loved ones who have paid the ultimate price in Iraq, whether they are American or Iraqi, pro-war or pro-peace. I wish I could offer some hope and murmur false platitudes to make it better, but at the end of the day we all drink from the same bottomless fountain of sorrow, and I personally know that it sucks, big time.
I recently received an email from someone who I assume does not support me, because he/she told me to “get over it” because “millions of people have died in war from the beginning of time.”
Just because it has always been so, does it has to keep being this way?
Do working class children have to keep dying for the war-making class?
Only if we keep giving them our children.
Let’s change the future and stop this cycle of violence, now!