Marjorie Cohn: Why Bush Can't Answer Cindy
Why Bush Can't Answer Cindy
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Thursday 18 August 2005
Cindy Sheehan is still waiting for Bush to answer her question: What noble cause did my son die for? Her protest started as a small gathering 13 days ago. It has mushroomed into a demonstration of hundreds in Crawford and tens of thousands more at 1,627 solidarity vigils throughout the country.
Why didn't Bush simply invite Cindy in for tea when she arrived in Crawford? In a brief, personal meeting with Cindy, Bush could have defused a situation that has become a profound embarrassment for him, and could derail his political agenda.
Bush didn't talk with Cindy because he can't answer her question. There is no answer to Cindy's question. There is no noble cause that Cindy's son died fighting for. And Bush knows it.
The goals of this war are not hard to find. They were laid out in Paul Wolfowitz's draft Pentagon Defense Planning Guidance in 1992, and again in the neoconservative manifesto - The Project for a New American Century's Rebuilding America's Defenses - in September 2000.
Long before 9/11, the neocons proclaimed that the United States should exercise its role as the world's only superpower by ensuring access to the massive Middle East petroleum reserves. To accomplish this goal, the US would need to invade Iraq and establish permanent military bases there.
If Bush were to give an honest answer to Cindy Sheehan's question, it would be that her son died to help his country spread US hegemony throughout the Middle East.
But that answer, while true, does not sound very noble. It would not satisfy Cindy Sheehan, nor would it satisfy the vast majority of the American people. So, for the past several years, Bush and his minions have concocted an ever-changing story line.
First, it was weapons-of-mass-destruction and the mushroom cloud. In spite of the weapons inspectors' admonitions that Iraq had no such weapons, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, and Bolton lied about chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Bush even included the smoking gun claim in his state of the union address: that Iraq sought to purchase uranium from Niger. It was a lie, because people like Ambassador Joe Wilson, who traveled to Niger to investigate the allegation, had reported back to Cheney that it never happened.
The Security Council didn't think Iraq was a threat to international peace and security. In spite of Bush's badgering and threats, the Council held firm and refused to sanction a war on Iraq. The UN weapons inspectors asked for more time to conduct their inspections. But Bush was impatient.
He thumbed his nose at the United Nations and invaded anyway. After the "coalition forces" took over Iraq, they combed the country for the prohibited weapons. But they were nowhere to be found.
Faced with the need to explain to the American people why our sons and daughters were dying in Iraq, Bush changed the subject to saving the Iraqis from Saddam's torture chambers.
Then the grotesque photographs emerged from Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad. They contained images of US military personnel torturing Iraqis. Bush stopped talking about Saddam's torture.
Most recently, Bush's excuse has been "bringing democracy to the Iraqi people." On June 28, 2004, he ceremoniously hailed the "transfer of sovereignty" back to the Iraqi people. (See Giving Iraqis What is Rightly Theirs). Yet 138,000 US troops remained in Iraq to protect US "interests."
And Iraq's economy is still controlled by laws put in place before the "transfer of sovereignty." The US maintains a stranglehold on foreign access to Iraqi oil, private ownership of Iraq's resources, and control over the reconstruction of this decimated country.
For months, Bush hyped the August 15, 2005 deadline for Iraqis to agree on a new constitution. But as the deadline came and went, the contradictions between the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds over federalism came into sharp focus. The Bush administration admitted that "we will have some form of Islamic republic," according to Sunday's Washington Post.
So much for Bush's promise of a democratic Iraq.
The constitutional negotiations are far removed from the lives of most Iraqis. When journalist Robert Fisk asked an Iraqi friend about the constitution, he replied, "Sure, it's important. But my family lives in fear of kidnapping, I'm too afraid to tell my father I work for journalists, and we only have one hour in six of electricity and we can't even keep our food from going bad in the fridge. Federalism? You can't eat federalism and you can't use it to fuel your car and it doesn't make my fridge work."
Fisk reports that 1,100 civilian bodies were brought into the Baghdad morgue in July. The medical journal The Lancet concluded in October 2004 that at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died in the first 18 months after Bush invaded Iraq.
Unfortunately, the picture in Iraq is not a pretty one.
Bush knows that if he talked to Cindy Sheehan, she would demand that he withdraw from Iraq now.
But Bush has no intention of ever pulling out of Iraq. The US is building the largest CIA station in the world in Baghdad. And Halliburton is busily constructing 14 permanent US military bases in Iraq.
George Bush knows that he cannot answer Cindy Sheehan's question. There is no noble cause for his war on Iraq.
Marjorie Cohn, a contributing editor to t r u t h o u t, is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists.