William Rivers Pitt: One Thousand and One
One Thousand and One
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 08 September 2004
On the day Operation Iraqi Freedom suffered the 1,000th death of a United States soldier, some quick numbers are in order:
1,095 days since the attacks of September 11;
538 days since the invasion and occupation of Iraq;
1,001 American soldiers dead in Iraq;
1,132 total Coalition soldiers dead in Iraq;
More than 20,000 'medical evacuations' of American soldiers from Iraq;
More than 10,000 civilians dead in Iraq;
0 weapons of mass destruction;
0 democratic elections in Iraq;
0 connections between Iraq and the attacks of September 11;
0 captures of Osama bin Laden, in Iraq or anywhere else;
$1.7 trillion to be spent on Iraq in the next decade, according to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences report by the Committee on International Security Studies (CISS).
Jane Bright wrote to me in November of 2003 about the death of her son, one of the 1,001. "I must share with you," wrote Bright, "the obituary I wrote for my son, Sgt. Evan Ashcraft, who was killed July 24 near Mosul. I often think of the contributions my intelligent, sensitive wonderful son could have made. He could have been President of the United States. He could have been a doctor caring for children in a Third World Country. He had so much potential. He told us that when he came back from Iraq he wanted to help people. He said he had seen so much hatred and death that the only way to live his life was through aid to others. Look at what we've lost. The loss is not just mine, it's the world's loss. Evan will always be alive in my heart. He and all the other victims of this heinous action in Iraq must be more than mere numbers emerging from the Pentagon's daily tally. His death is a crime against humanity and the fault lies with the war criminals who inhabit our White House. Please share his story so that he may come alive to your readers."
Writer Bruce Mulkey spoke recently to Jane Bright, and wrote about his conversation in an essay titled 'Military Families Speak Out.' Bright said to him, "Several months ago when George Bush was performing his skit for the media in which he was looking under his desk and under chairs for weapons of mass destruction, I was horrified by the insensitivity of his performance. I thought to myself, here is the president of the United States making a joke out of a pre-emptive war and laughing about weapons of mass destruction, the basis for going to war, a war in which my dear son died, over 1,000 coalition troops have died and thousands of Iraqi civilians have died. How dare he!"
There are a lot of women like Jane Bright in America now.
Brooke Campbell lost her brother, Sergeant Ryan M. Campbell, in Iraq on April 29, 2004. In his last letter to her, Ryan wrote, "Just do me one big favor, OK? Don't vote for Bush. No. Just don't do it. I would not be happy with you."
Ms. Campbell, in a subsequent letter to George W. Bush, wrote, "I last saw my loved one at the Kansas City airport, staring after me as I walked away. I could see April 29 written on his sad, sand-chapped and sunburned face. I could see that he desperately wanted to believe that if he died, it would be while 'doing good,' as you put it. He wanted us to be able to be proud of him. Mr. President, you gave me and my mother a folded flag instead of the beautiful boy who called us 'Moms' and 'Brookster.' But worse than that, you sold my little brother a bill of goods. Not only did you cheat him of a long meaningful life, but you cheated him of a meaningful death."
At some point, you simply run out of words. 1,000 dead soldiers in Iraq, no weapons of mass destruction, no connection to September 11, torture and rape of men, women and children at Abu Ghraib prison, the outing of a deep-cover CIA officer for political revenge, Rumsfeld ally Ahmad Chalabi spying for Iran, the Israeli spy in the Pentagon, all the dead civilians everywhere, the substantial failures of Bush et al. on September 11, the crater in the economy, a gutted health care system, the abandonment of the elderly, the evisceration of the environment, and a federal budget deficit that guarantees a bleak future for anyone planning to be alive sometime in the next ten years...
At some point, you simply run out of words. Let us instead have a moment of silence for those 1,001 soldiers, and all the civilians who have joined them in the Iraqi dust.
William Rivers Pitt is the senior editor and lead writer for truthout. He is a New York Times and international bestselling author of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'