Marc Ash: Man Down
By Marc Ash
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 11 May 2004
I write this at the beginning of May 2004.
Now, more than four hundred days have passed since the decision by the Bush administration to invade Iraq.
As of today, 772 U.S. soldiers - men and women - have given their lives for their country, or so they died believing.
I do not write this piece to remember the dead of Iraq, but let them not be forgotten.
In the frantic days prior to the U.S. led invasion, French president Jacques Chirac challenged the world to reject "the logic of war." The world heeded his warning. The Bush administration did not.
As in any war, a nation that sends it best to battle must not shrink from supporting them and their families. But in a war that never should have been, those who would make that war, will seek to wrap it in support that would be offered to the soldiers themselves. So is this nation today divided to its core.
The questions run deep
What is support? What is abandonment? If I support a war that is wrong have I supported those who give their lives in it? Or have I abandoned them? Is it enough to say to those I engage in conversation, "I support our troops"? Or is there some greater obligation on my part to seek the truth on behalf of those in the line of fire? What is my role? What best supports those on the front lines? Are they best served by my blind, and mute faith? Or would they be encouraged to know that I will not rest while they are sacrificed without just cause?
Torture that never ends
For those who have brought themselves to view the photographs from Auschwitz, Buchenwald and the other camps, the images from Abu Ghraib do not draw near that horror. But this horror will yet have its darkest day. It is most ironic to see the smiling faces of these sons and daughters of our great nation as they abandon their and our dignity forever. Their lifetimes will be far too short to forget their deeds at that prison from which they can exit but never leave. These crimes will not wash away or be forgotten by those who did them. So, for whom should our hearts break most? Those who have fallen in battle? Or those with a life sentence as guards at Abu Ghraib?
Well then, what is to be done?
There is a man I speak with often. I have on many occasions spoken with great concern about the purpose of this war with him. I fear he does not listen. Today he turned to me with genuine concern and asked, "Well then, what is to be done?"
In preparation for their invasion those who surround Mr. Bush chose to use the words freedom and democracy as slogans. Freedom and democracy are not slogans. They are in fact, perhaps the only things that can save Iraq from us, and save us from Iraq.
The people of Iraq want free and fair elections, and they want their country back. Nothing less will do.