Saturday, July 01, 2006
Editorial - Celebrating Independence from Texas to Iraq (July 4, 2006)
July 4th is a time of celebrating American independence and our participation in a country that is a beacon of liberty and freedom to the world. By the stroke of pen, Liberty was born and the United States announced to the world that it was a free nation. Through acts of selflessness and courage, freedoms have been achieved and expanded during the past 230 years.
Today citizens and non-citizens alike one more in Texas, as throughout the U.S., will commemorate the inalienable rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Families will cook hamburgers and fajitas, in backyards and parks. Crowds will flock to favorite beaches, watering-holes, and East Texas pines. Politicians will opine of the "sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform". Fireworks will illumine the night sky.
This will all take place in a country where people of differing races, faiths, and political viewpoints live side by side in relative peace and prosperity.
But in Iraq, real bombs will be bursting in the air; the blessing of liberty not yet achieved.
Iraqi parents, like us, work to instill in their children basic values that should sound familiar to Texans: freedom, opportunity, security, and responsibility. But they find their country torn apart by warring forces and occupied by foreigners who refuse to leave.
"Things are bad, very bad," said one friend recently in Baghdad. "There is a curfew now, nobody leaves their houses after 7 or 8pm. There is nothing we can do." "The dead are just numbers now....14 bodies here, 20 bodies there, another 16 here." He stated that as bad as things were during the years of U.N. sanctions, violence and unemployment have increased and infrastructure deteriorated faster during the past three years.
Another English-speaking friend wrote, "I've been listening to debate - mostly from pro-war politicians - and the naïveté they reveal is astounding. As long as foreign troops are in Iraq, resistance or 'insurgency' will continue. Why is that SO difficult to understand? How is that concept a foreign one?"
The framers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence were men and women of integrity willing to suffer all for freedom. They lived in relative security but valued liberty more as they fought to rid their land of a despotic ruler with the world's greatest military at his disposal.
Two hundred years later the table has turned. In 2006 America is burning towns and destroying the lives of civilians, depriving people of trial by jury, exempting troops from murder, and plundering the treasury of another people. Other malignant foreign forces set bombs and rain mortars down on unsuspecting residents, but their numbers are small compared to the 128,000 GIs stationed there. Citizens on both sides of the world - parents, teachers, religious and business leaders - watch in chagrin as the blood of the nations' youth are squandered on a senseless and immoral war.
Americans are faced with a dilemma. On one hand, supporters of U.S. military intervention argue that we cannot withdraw until the security situation is stable. On the other, violence increases every month that we remain. War apologists like to use the phrase "cut-and-run" to denigrate those who call for withdrawal, but wiser heads know when to "fold'em" and walk away.
During the past three years, more than 20,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed or injured in Iraq; estimates of Iraqi dead and injured range from 50,000 to more than 100,000. While President Bush calls such sacrifices "noble" the White House still does not have clear objectives and will not say when the war might end.
Instead of preserving our Constitution, GIs find themselves writing one for Iraq. Old Glory languishes while troops are sent to protect a flag of red, white, and black with green Arabic script.
Iraqis demand freedom, on their terms not ours.
A January 2006 poll by the Center for International Studies at Maryland found that 70% of Iraqis - of all religious and ethnic groups - favor setting a timeline for U.S. withdrawal, 35% "within six months". Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presented a plan that called for a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces.
It's time for the U.S. to give Iraq its independence and to let Iraqis build a nation of their own. If we believe in Democracy, we must begin our exodus from Iraq and end this war now.
Freedom and liberty demand it!
Charlie Jackson, is a sixth-generation Texas bid'nessman and founder of Texans for Peace
http://www.texansforpeace.org and http://www.texansforpeace.org/endthewar