Sunday, January 18, 2009

Opening Old Wounds

Last night, I watched Body of War, a documentary produced by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro.

It tells the story of Tomas Young, a guy who in the patriotic fervor following 9/11 joined the military on September 13, 2001. He anticipated going to Afghanistan, but shortly after enlisting it became apparent that was not the real target. He was sent to Iraq.

Just five days into Iraq, he was hit by a sniper's bullets and was paralyzed from the chest down. After he returned and received what was clearly inadequate care and painful and painfully inadequate rehabilitation, his brother was sent to Iraq. While Tomas' perspectives on the war evolved into an extremely critical perspective that strongly opposed the war we were waging against people who never attacked us until we invaded their country, his brother had a different attitude about the war and about his service to his country.

Body of War is a brutal, jarring, utterly honest portrayal of what life is like for a badly injured soldier who questions why he was ever sent to Iraq. His mother is at his side and supports him in his efforts to protest the Bush Administration's actions in and about Iraq. His father is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who supports the war, the President, and the idea of the war. A good deal of the documentary focuses on his mother's emotional and intellectual reaction to the war.

The documentary does an extremely good job of showing how the anti-war activists are huge supporters of the men and women of the military who risk their lives to undertake the missions given to them by their Commander-in-Chief. The film clearly shows that the protests are NOT against the people who were sent to fight, they are opposed to the leaders who sent our soldiers off to war.

The documentary is fascinating and riveting, but it really brought to the surface my personal loathing for Bush and for all the people who voted to allow him to take this country into an illegal and immoral war that bankrupted this nation. There were 23 Senators in 2002 who voted against authorizing Bush to take us to war. The authorizing resolution passed the House 296 to 133.

By January 2007, when ABC News asked the 77 Senators who voted in favor of authorizing the war if they would do it again, knowing what they knew versus what they knew in 2002, thirty-four of them said they would not; so, it would have been a vote of 43in favor and 57 opposed. It tears me up to know that, had more people in the Senate been as thoughtful and as intelligent in their assessment of the rush to war as Senator Robert Byrd, we would not have lost thousands of our military men and women, billions upon billions in treasure, and the respect of the majority of the countries in the world.

I remember screaming at my television, urging members of the Senate and House not to authorize the resolution. I believe I sent messages to my Senators and to my House representative at the time, but I can't be sure. Whatever I did, it had no effect. In hindsight, I wish I'd asked others to join me in protesting to their elected officials.

Today, I am stunned to continue to hear people who say they support the war in Iraq. They point to the good that is being done by soliders and they point to the instances in which the tide has turned and the improved Iraqi public opinions. I don't doubt those things have occurred. But the issue isn't whether we are doing good; the issue is whether we should have been there, period.

To my way of thinking, it's as if the supporters were saying, in a similar set of circumstances: "It's OK if the President misleads us into a war, because once we're in it, we can do some good for the people we are fighting." And I get extremely upset when I hear people say those who oppose the war want us to leave without completing our mission. Just what the fuck is our mission? I thought it was to protect us from weapons of mass destruction. Mission accomplished. And war-mongers tend to say we can't leave now because to leave would be equivalent to declaring defeat "after we've made so much progress." Progress toward what?! I would be far more proud of this country to say "We made a mistake and we're going to leave and make it right" than for us to continue to cling to our ultra-nationalism and say "We're the most moral country in the world and if we went it, it was for a good reason and we won't leave until we have things our way."

I don't care how many times Bush points to how fucking hard he had it as President and how he always believed he did the right thing. Lately, he's even begun to try to admit he made some mistakes, though he's careful not to go all the way and really admit anything...he always points back to wanting in his heart to do the right thing. The man is a liar and a fraud and deserves to be imprisoned.

At the absolute BEST he was criminally incompetent and a blatant liar and he should be treated accordingly. I'm equally disgusted with every Senator and every Congressman who voted his way...perhaps even more so now after watching Body of War. Hillary Clinton and Kerry voted to support the war; I don't trust them. And while we're talking about records, something needs to be clarified just for the record. A lot of people say Barack Obama voted against the war; he spoke against it, but he was not a Senator he could not vote against it.

If you haven't seen Body of War, I strongly recommend it. But be forewarned, it will be deeply moving and will almost certainly open some wounds that you may want to remain beneath a protective scab.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Because of Bush more people have died and suffered than imaginable. He should be sent to The Hague and face the warcrimes tribunal as far as I'm concerned, as should every person who supported his stupidity and ignorance.

War will NEVER EVER be okay, in any situation. I can tell you this first-hand after living with what happened in my city of Vukovar, after it was brutally savaged and shelled for three months without end and people were then slaughtered and taken away and died in unimaginable circumstances. I don't know how many of me it may take to convince stupid people who have never been in a war, who have only see it on TV and think it's okay. It's not a fucking board game of "Risk"... it's horror which damages people to an unacceptable degree.

Thank you for believing that war is wrong. It is.