mr. president

10 07 2007

President Bush’s announcement that he will speak tonight on the importance of staying the course in Iraq is no surprise. With ever-eroding support for the war, Bush looks a little like a kid with his hand caught in the (explosive?) cookie jar, trying to justify an error that continues to wreak inexplicacble amounts of havoc across the globe.

Too bad he’s making this ill-fated speech on the same day The Nation is publishing this brilliant article by Chris Hedges on the Web (for print on Thursday) about unheard-of atrocities in Iraq:

“And we were approaching this one house,” he said. “In this farming area, they’re, like, built up into little courtyards. So they have, like, the main house, common area. They have, like, a kitchen and then they have a storage shed-type deal. And we’re approaching, and they had a family dog. And it was barking ferociously, ’cause it’s doing its job. And my squad leader, just out of nowhere, just shoots it. And he didn’t–mother­fucker–he shot it and it went in the jaw and exited out. So I see this dog–I’m a huge animal lover; I love animals–and this dog has, like, these eyes on it and he’s running around spraying blood all over the place. And like, you know, What the hell is going on? The family is sitting right there, with three little children and a mom and a dad, horrified. And I’m at a loss for words. And so, I yell at him. I’m, like, What the fuck are you doing? And so the dog’s yelping. It’s crying out without a jaw. And I’m looking at the family, and they’re just, you know, dead scared. And so I told them, I was like, Fucking shoot it, you know? At least kill it, because that can’t be fixed….

“And–I actually get tears from just saying this right now, but–and I had tears then, too–and I’m looking at the kids and they are so scared. So I got the interpreter over with me and, you know, I get my wallet out and I gave them twenty bucks, because that’s what I had. And, you know, I had him give it to them and told them that I’m so sorry that asshole did that.”

-Spc. Philip Chrystal, 23, of Reno, on raiding one particular Iraqi civilian home.

The more-than-14,000-word article examines at length various inconsistencies, violent crimes, and horrific anecdotes as told by 50 veteran soldiers from Iraq. The interview process, which began last July, must have been extremely emotionally taxing, whereas the article itself is probably the single most disturbing and important piece to be published on the war to date.

John McCain,  ever the hawkish war-romantic, returned from a trip to Iraq this week having this to say about it:

 “I know that senators are tired of this war, tired of the mounting death toll, tired of the many mistakes we have made in this war and the great efforts it requires to reverse them, tired of the war’s politicization and the degree to which it has become embroiled in partisan struggles and election strategies… I understand this fatigue. And yet, I maintain that we, as elected leaders with a duty to our people and the security of their nation, cannot let fatigue dictate our policies.”

McCain is, as usual, way out of line. He is playing on the basic human need to be seen as strong and powerful — at the top of the pecking order. His rhetoric is reminiscent of a high school track coach: “I know you’re tired, but that exhausion is a manifestation of imagination. You’re gonna make us look like pussies if we lose to Benson AGAIN! Now MOVE!”

Except that this isn’t a game. We’re tired of reading pieces like Mr. Hedges’. We’re mentally, spiritually and physically exhausted.

And Bush seriously needs to let go of his stubborn pride. He continues to assert himself as the dictator of an ailing country, thirsty for new direction.

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