David E. Hickman, R.I.P.

The Iraq War is officially over – for the third time. The first time the Iraq War ended was on May 1, 2003, when President Bush announced – in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner – that “the United States and our allies have prevailed” and “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Evidently major combat operations had not quite ended since 4,300 more American soldiers then died for a lie while President Bush promised to the families of those killed to “complete the mission so that their child or their husband or wife has not died in vain.” The second ending of the Iraq War was on August 31, 2010, when President Obama proclaimed that “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.” Sixty-six more American soldiers then died in vain during “Operation New Dawn.” I hope for the sake of every young man and woman in the U.S. military that the Iraq War is really over this time. I remember writing about the unconstitutional Iraq War on its third anniversary (“Weapons of Mass Distraction“) when 2,317 American soldiers had already died. When I wrote about this unjust war on its fourth anniversary (“Four Years, Four Plans“), that number had risen to 3,218. On the fifth anniversary of this unnecessary war, (“Five Years and Counting“), the number was up to 3,992. On the sixth anniversary of this senseless war (“What Happened to the War?“), it was up to 4,259. On the seventh anniversary of this criminal war (“The Forgotten War“), the death toll was up to 4,385. On the eighth anniversary of this immoral war (“When Will the Iraq War Really End?“), the number of U.S. soldiers who died had “only” increased to 4,439, with 211 of those deaths occurring after Obama took over as the chief war criminal. I am thankful to God that there will be no ninth anniversary of this horrible war. I am relieved that the death count of U.S. soldiers has ended at 4,487. I am relieved that there will only be 255 U.S. soldiers who died after the inauguration of President Obama. What Vietnam veteran (and later senator) John Kerry said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (of which he is now chairman) in 1971 about the war in Vietnam is relevant to the Iraq War and especially to its end: In our opinion and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart. We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by a people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that the Vietnamese whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from. We found most people didn’t even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace, and they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Viet Cong, North Vietnamese or American. We found also that all too often American men were dying in those rice paddies for want of support from their allies. We saw first hand how monies from American taxes were used for a corrupt dictatorial regime. We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by the flag, and blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties. We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs and search and destroy missions, as well as by Viet Cong terrorism – and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong. We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum. We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals. We watched the United States falsification of body counts, in fact the glorification of body counts. We listened while month after month we were told the back of the enemy was about to break. We fought using weapons against “oriental human beings.” We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater. We watched while men charged up hills because a general said that hill has to be taken, and after losing one platoon or two platoons they marched away to leave the hill for reoccupation by the North Vietnamese. We watched pride allow the most unimportant battles to be blown into extravaganzas, because we couldn’t lose, and we couldn’t retreat, and because it didn’t matter how many American bodies were lost to prove that point, and so there were Hamburger Hills and Khe Sanhs and Hill 81s and Fire Base 6s, and so many others. Now we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of Vietnamizing the Vietnamese. Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn’t have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can’t say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon won’t be, and these are his words, “the first President to lose a war.” We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? Army Specialist David E. Hickman, 23, of Greensboro, North Carolina, of the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is that man. He was killed by an IED in Iraq on November 14, 2011. He is the last man to die in Iraq. He is the last man to die for a mistake. If only Bush hadn’t lied us into war. If only Bush had ceased hostilities after the capture of Saddam Hussein. If only Obama had pulled out U.S. troops after his inauguration. If only Obama had really ended the American combat mission in August. If only the war had ended sooner. If only David E. Hickman didn’t have to die for a mistake. May he rest in peace.