Meaning of Victory
President, Nuclear Age Peace
April 15, 2003
"Day by day we are moving closer to Baghdad.
Day by day we are moving closer to victory."
-George W. Bush, March 31,
With these words, Mr. Bush sought to reassure the
American people that his war plan is working, moving us
closer to "victory." As the United States continues its
heavy and unrelenting bombing of Baghdad and other Iraqi
cities, inflicting death and suffering on the Iraqi
people who we are supposedly liberating, we would do well
to explore the meaning of victory. Thus far, few
journalists, at least in the corporate mainstream US
media, appear ready to do so. Those concerned with the
path the war is taking might have added the following
observations to Bush's statement.
Day by day we are killing more Iraqi civilians. One
day US forces bomb a marketplace, killing 62 civilians.
Another day a car carrying women and children is fired on
by US troops, killing seven. An Iraqi mother describes
watching her young children's heads severed from their
bodies. According to news reports, some 500 to 700 Iraqi
civilians have died thus far, and many more Iraqi
soldiers have been slaughtered.
Day by day the "untold sorrow" mounts. One Iraqi man,
whose family was killed by US bombing, cries out in pain,
"God take our revenge on America!"
Day by day more of our young soldiers are dying and
being maimed in battle and military accidents. Between US
and British troops, more than 60 coalition soldiers are
dead. Is this our victory, killing more of "them" than
they kill of "us"?
Day by day we are spending more of our wealth on
instruments of war as we relentlessly bombard Iraqi
cities. Bush has asked for supplementary budget approval
of $75 billion as a down payment on this war. This is in
addition to the $400 billion already allocated for our
Day by day we are destroying more of the
infrastructure of Iraqi cities that we are already
allowing US companies to bid on to rebuild. Perhaps we
should return to less deadly ways of transferring
taxpayer wealth to favored corporations.
Day by day we are becoming more hated in the Middle
East. Middle Eastern newspapers are printing these
headlines, "Monstrous martyrdom in Baghdad" (Jordan),
"Dreadful massacre in Baghdad" (Egypt), and "Yet another
massacre by the coalition of invaders" (Saudi Arabia).
Egyptian novelist Ezzat El Kamhawy writes, "This war is
affecting civilians primarily. I did not expect to see
civilians bombed and I feel exceedingly angry."
Throughout the Middle East, the people don't seem to be
celebrating our presence or our war, let alone our
Day by day we are creating more terrorists intent upon
attacking the US and American citizens. "When it is over,
if it is over, this war will have horrible consequences,"
says Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek. "Instead of having
one [Osama] bin Laden, we will have 100 bin
Ladens." Does this fit with Mr. Bush's concept of
Day by day we are seeing the arrogance of the rush to
war by the Bush administration. We have yet to see the
Iraqis surrendering in large numbers and greeting the
Americans as "liberators," as the administration boldly
claimed would happen. Perhaps Mr. Bush, so focused on
victory and so lacking in historical perspective, has
forgotten the US experience in Vietnam and the potency of
nationalism in the defense of one's country from outside
Day by day the Bush administration is continuing to
alienate most of our key allies. The members of the
"coalition of the willing" that have actually provided
troops in Iraq consist of only the UK, Australia, Poland
and Albania in addition to the US. Not even the three
members of the Security Council that supported the war
Spain, Italy and Bulgaria are providing military
Day by day polls throughout the world are showing
overwhelming opposition to the US invasion of Iraq, even
in most of those countries where the governments are
nominally supporting the US.
Day by day we are watching the erosion of our
constitutional system of government. Congress has shirked
its constitutional responsibility to declare war, and it
seems poised to give the president all the funds he is
requesting for his war.
Day by day, laws pressed by the Bush administration,
such as the misnamed USA Patriot Act and planned
supplements to this legislation, are undermining our Bill
Day by day Americans are being misled by our
mainstream corporate media, which seems comfortable
acting as cheerleaders for the war. When veteran war
correspondent Peter Arnett said on Iraqi television what
he took to be the obvious truth, that the US timetable
was falling by the wayside in Iraq, he was summarily
fired by NBC.
Day by day Americans are expressing their support, but
also their ignorance about the war. The polls inform us
that 72 percent of Americans support the war, but at the
same time 51 percent of Americans believe that Iraq
attacked the World Trade Center, which is not true.
Sixty-five percent of Americans cannot find Iraq on a
Day by day we are ignoring other serious problems in
the world, including the dangerous potential for war on
the Korean peninsula and the possibility of North Korea's
further nuclear proliferation. The Bush administration
ignores North Korea's pleas for negotiations with the US
and its constructive proposals for a mutual security
Day by day we are using nuclear-tipped shells in this
war to attack tanks and other armored vehicles. The
"depleted uranium" in these munitions is transformed into
fine dust particles upon impact, and the inhalation of
these particles is thought to be responsible for the
"Gulf War Syndrome" that has afflicted so many of our
troops from the first Gulf War in 1991.
Professor Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon's
depleted uranium project, has argued, "There is a moral
point to be made here. This war was about Iraq possessing
illegal weapons of mass destruction yet we are using
weapons of mass destruction ourselves. Such double
standards are repellent."
Day by day we are moving closer to using nuclear
weapons, the real ones. The Bush administration has
promulgated a doctrine of reserving "the right to respond
with overwhelming force including through resort to all
of our options to the use of WMD [weapons of mass
destruction] against the United States, our forces
abroad, and friends and allies." The reference to "all of
our options" is meant to obliquely send the message that
nuclear weapons use is an option.
We don't know whether Iraq has weapons of mass
destruction, but we have no reason to believe that they
would not use chemical or biological weapons as a last
resort if they did. And we have no reason to believe that
the Bush junta would not follow through on their threats
to use "all of our options," including nuclear
Day by day the US economy is faltering. Since Bush
came to office, the US has moved from large budget
surpluses to large budget deficits. The stock markets
have followed one major trend, downward, and the war
seems to be exacerbating this trend.
Day by day funding is being cut for education, health
care, head start programs and other important social
programs so that we can pay for war. In 2001, 41.2
million Americans had no health insurance. There has been
a 43 percent rise in unemployment since Bush took office.
Pell grants, which have funded college educations
particularly for worthy minority students, are being cut
back from covering 84 percent of the costs to 42 percent
of the costs. While important social programs are being
cut back or eliminated, Bush is pressing for a $700
billion tax break for the wealthiest Americans.
Day by day the Bush administration is failing
America's veterans. The House of Representatives recently
voted approval of a 2004 budget that will cut $25 billion
over ten years from veteran's health care and benefit
programs. This came just one day after Congress voted
overwhelmingly to "support our troops."
Day by day the most respected moral leaders in the
world are speaking out against a war they find to be
immoral and lacking in legitimacy. These leaders include
The Pope, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South
African President Nelson Mandela.
The Pope has repeatedly insisted that a preventive war
has no legal or moral justification, and has called the
war "a defeat for humanity." Nelson Mandela has called
Bush's actions in Iraq "a tragedy." "What I am
condemning," Mandela said, "is that one power, with a
president who has no foresight, who cannot think
properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a
As if to underline Mandela's insights about him, Bush,
according to Time magazine, told three US Senators as far
back as March 2002, "F--k Saddam. We're taking him
As we race toward the "victory" that Mr. Bush seems so
confident will be achieved, what are the consequences
likely to be?
-- There will be greater instability in the
Middle East as the US attempts to occupy Iraq.
-- The US will be roundly hated in the Middle East
and throughout the Muslim world.
-- Terrorism against the US will increase,
including terrorism in the US.
-- Our guaranteed freedoms in the US Bill of Rights
will continue to be reduced.
-- The US economy will be in shambles, with few
social programs left intact.
-- US alliances of long duration will be difficult,
if not impossible, to rebuild.
-- The likelihood of nuclear weapons proliferation
and use will increase.
Former US marine and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter
has doubts about Bush's "victory": "We find ourselves
facing a nation of 23 million, with armed elements
numbering around seven million who are concentrated at
urban areas. We will not win this fight. America will
lose this war."
But Mr. Bush tells us, "Day by day we are moving
closer to victory." General Tommy Franks, the commander
of the US war effort, tells us, "The outcome is not in
doubt." In all likelihood, however, it will not be the
outcome that Mr. Bush and his administration are
anticipating, but one far worse for all of us. It is past
time for the American people to wake up to the meaning of
TFF & the author 2003
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