IRAQ WAR: WHEN WILL THE KILLING STOP? By Congressman Charles Rangel
With the deaths of 21 Marines in two days this week, the body count of U.S. troops
killed in Iraq rose dramatically to 1,815 and counting. Even as newspapers and
TV stations broadcast the death toll, we were still counting on the churches,
synagogues and mosques to show that they recognize the inhumanity of this immoral
Aren’t there passages in the Bible, the Koran and the Torah which command
that killing for a fraudulent cause has to stop? Why is no one speaking out?
At least 23,000 civilians have also died in the Iraqi killing field and the
U.S. is stuck in a quagmire. With conflict surging, last May 30th Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld boasted that the insurgency was "in the last throes." In
the days after that insurgents killed well over 100 U.S. troops and more than
Neither the President nor the Congress wants to talk about the death toll.
Instead, we are inundated with irrational claims about the progress of "democracy"
and the growing potential of the Iraqi army. While the administration indicates
troop withdrawals may start next year before the mid-term Congressional elections,
a Pentagon assessment reveals that Iraqi forces are nowhere near prepared to
fight the rebels on their own. The dirty little secret is that no one in the
administration knows how much longer the war will last and at what cost.
All of this mayhem is taking place in a fraudulent war of choice, which members
of the Bush administration had planned even before taking office. There were
no weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein was not involved in the September
11th attack. The Project for the New American Century documents how
Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his former deputy, Paul
Wolfowitz, in the 1990’s, had outlined a plan for domination of the Middle
East and its oil resources. The group included John Bolton, recently appointed
as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. who has expressed his utter contempt for the
world body. The attack on New York on September 11th, 2001, provided the excuse
they needed to implement the plan.
Estimates of the level of personnel needed in Iraq and how they will be raised
are marked by inconsistencies. Hawks in Congress are calling for the deployment
of 50-100,000 additional soldiers, while some of our allies are planning to
recall some or all of their troops.
Recruitment, particularly in the Army and Marines, is suffering dramatic declines.
The military is competing with itself for certain specialties. Explosives specialists
working for private companies are being offered as much as $250,000 a year compared
to the $46,000 a year an enlisted soldier with the same experience can earn.
The disparities are causing so much tension that last May Marines arrested 16
civilian security workers, accusing them of firing at U.S. troops.
Meanwhile, our young men and women whose economic circumstances make military
service a viable career choice are dying bravely in a war with no end in sight.
The outrage of it all is that no one--whether our religious and political leaders
or opinion makers--seems to care.
I am struck by how casually we as a nation react to the carnage in Iraq. I
worry that we are losing our capacity to feel the pain of this war for which
few Americans have been called to sacrifice in any way. The silence can be deafening
when a war is fought by other people’s children.
One day, someone--perhaps your children or grandchildren--will ask
what you were saying during the war in Iraq. What will your answer be?