To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young
Originally posted at Truthdig.com
I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.
I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.
I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.
I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.
I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.
My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.
Originally posted at Truthdig.com
John Lawrence says
A heartfelt letter that I wish Bush and Cheney would read, but these guys are so hopeless they are still trying to defend the Iraq war and their actions to promote it. The Iraq war and the Vietnam war were follies on a galactic scale, and it’s up to historians to decide which one was more stupid than the other. Meanwhile, the whole cause of humanity and civilization has been set back eons by these two wars.
What’s particularly sad is how so few Americans even care about things like this. Bring it up in conversations and people simply yawn and find it boring. The other sad thing is that such a large percentage of people who DO know about this individual have little to no compassion for him. Google is situation and you will see a lot of blog boards about it. Extreme conservatives think he should just suck up and deal with it. They consider his emotions a sign of weakness, including some of his fellow vets. Extreme liberals seem to think if he was a better person than he is he would have never signed up in the first place, so no sympathy from the either.
I’d be curious to hear what this person or anyone else would have pursued as an alternate policy after 9/11.
These facts are clear:
9/11 was caused by the policies we used to contain Saddam.
Saddam had gamed and corrupted sanctions and oil for food. Sanctions which were about to end, and see Saddam enrich himself immensely when his oil could be freely sold again.
Which would be used to re equip his military, the largest and most experienced standing army in the regi0n.
Commanded by a mad man, and upon his death his equally insane sons, who harbored an intense desire for revenge against us and the Saudis.
So yeah I see a lot of bitter rhetoric and sneering hate within this guy’s letter, but no where do I see “this is what you should have done, Bush”. Why is that? Because he believes Bush solely embarked on this policy for his own personal desire for wealth and power.
And I’m sorry but you can call that conspiracy theory or you can call it stupid, but you can’t call it an intelligent position because we have a balance of powers mechanism in the constituti0n which precludes the executive branch from doing any such thing. Which is why the war only happened after careful deliberation and vote by both houses of Congress.
Which he seems oblivious of here:
“you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.”
I haven’t a lick of sympathy for this guy. Like him, I volunteered to serve my country however they saw fit. In 1979 it looked like we were going to war with Iran. By the luck of the draw I survived my four years with much less physical price than he, but here is a man who is completely bitter and sees his life in ruins, and only wants to see the whole country’s dignity ruined as well- and focuses all this intense hate on one dimwitted retired politician who went home to Texas and doesn’t care.
Where is his vitriol for all the Democrats in the House and Senate who voted for the war-actively promoting it with their speeches? Kerry, Edwards, Clinton, all told the world Saddam had WMD and was a danger?
Where is his fire and brimstone for Al Gore and Bill Clinton, whose hand selected CIA head compiled intelligence under their command and handed it to Bush to make his decision with? For that matter Clinton publicly encouraged Bush to remove Saddam as well.
I know these opinions won’t fly pretty here but I inserted enough factual claims to support them. Challenge them as you like but I’d like to hear what, I guess in the words of Kerry in 2004 said, “I’d have done exactly what Bush did, but I’d have done it RIGHT.” How?
John Mudd says
To John: You haven’t a lick of sympathy for this guy. What you are really saying is that you are glad he is suffering and your only regret is that you can’t find a way to make him suffer more. In a way, your comment fairly accurately reflects the attitude of the majority of today’s Americans.
That’s interesting you seem content to vilify me rather than address any of the tangible points I introduced.
The gist of my position is that this individual, by participating in the unreasonably cynical criticism of US Iraq policy, and encouraging it to continue, has contributed to his own sad destiny. It’s like the negative guys on the high school football team who always whine and complain about how bad the team is, and how they’re only going to lose every game. Well at the end of the season you lost all the games. Congratulations.
You see this?
“I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love.”
So he’d be happy if he wasn’t too ignorant to understand why removing Saddam Hussein was vital to the national security of the United States. That’s not my problem.