Not for Freedom

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I didn’t watch
any of the Memorial Day events on television. Memorial Day, it seems
to me, should be only for the families of the dead. It’s really
impossible to remember someone we never knew.

Of course, these days Memorial Day gets larded with politics and pseudo-patriotism. It’s nauseating to watch a bunch of actors, entertainers and politicians who never heard a gun fired in anger put on a maudlin performance as if they really gave a rat’s toenail for the dead.

The fact is,
war is started by old men who never go near the war, and wars are
always fought by the young. The king of Belgium once noted that
it takes 20 years of peace to produce a man and 20 seconds of war
to destroy him. Think about that. All that a young human being is
– intelligence, health, youth, education, knowledge, potential
accomplishments – reduced to a bloody pile of broken bones
and guts in an instant. They are strangers killing and being killed
by strangers.

War is mass
murder, and no doubt part of the degradation of the human species
is the fact that starting with the War Between the States, the human
toll of war has increased exponentially. It’s ironic that wars take
the healthiest and bravest, while the unhealthy and the cowardly
manage to evade them.

Look at all
the draft dodgers of the Vietnam Era who suddenly became war hawks
as soon as they were too old to go. I’ve said it before: If I had
children of war age, I would do everything in my power to dissuade
them from joining the military.

The present
war is a bad war. It is not being fought to protect freedom, let
alone the American people. Poor Cindy Sheehan, who bravely protested
the war, finally gave up. She felt betrayed by the Democrats, by
the anti-war movement, but the saddest thing of all, she said, was
that she finally faced the fact her son died for nothing.

And sad as it is to say, it’s true. The politicians and some of the media chicken hawks like to fork the fertilizer talking about sacrifices for freedom (sacrifices most of them studiously avoid ever making), but it’s just fertilizer.

Why did we go to war in Iraq? Because the president hated Saddam Hussein; because the Israeli lobby wanted us to; because the crazy neoconservatives had the insane idea that the Middle East could be democratized at the point of a gun; because oil companies and other corporations lusted for profit.

is any threat to the safety and freedom of the United States, a
threat no Iraqi ever made or ever had the capability of carrying
out. So, if you don’t want to say the kids are dying for nothing,
you can say they are dying for Halliburton, for ExxonMobil, for
the president’s ego, for a cockamamie theory of a bunch of academics,
for Israel, for money or for oil. What you cannot truthfully say
is that they are dying for freedom.

The "global war on terror" is just a bad metaphor that doesn’t have any connection to reality. How long are the American people going to allow liars to lull them into sacrificing the most precious treasure the country has – its youth – in a futile, lie-ridden, corruption-pocked war?

In my dreams,
I see the American people rising like a roaring lion and ripping
the guilty politicians out of their offices, but that is only a
dream. The kind of people with the courage to do that lie moldering
in millions of graves around the world.

Reese [send
him mail
] was a journalist for over 50 years, reporting on everything
from sports to politics. From 1969-71, he worked as a campaign staffer
for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several
states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist
for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. Now retired, he wrote
a syndicated column carried on Reese served two
years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner.

2007 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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