Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


William Rivers Pitt: Take a Moment for Death

Take a Moment for Death

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist

Thursday 12 April 2007

He was just a blue-eyed Boston boy,
His voice was low with pain.
I'll do your bidding comrade mine,
If I ride back again.
But if you ride back and I am left,
You do as much for me.
Mother, you know, must hear the news,
So write to her tenderly ...

- "Two Soldiers"

Let's take a moment, you and I, to slice through the shouting and the posturing and the politics. Let's elbow out some space, just a wee margin, away from fired US Attorneys and Gonzales and subpoenas and Karl Rove, away from Cheney and Bush and spending bills and withdrawal plans and all the rest of it. Let's put a little room between these things and ourselves, not because these things are unimportant, but because something underneath it all still manages to get ignored even within the maelstrom of a failing administration, and we need to talk about it.

A soldier from Massachusetts was killed in Iraq last week. He was an Army Sergeant, and was 25 years old.

A soldier from New Mexico was killed in Iraq last week. He was a Specialist, and was 21 years old.

A soldier from Alabama was killed in Iraq last week. He was a Staff Sergeant, and was 31 years old.

A soldier from Indiana was killed in Iraq last week. He was a Private, and was 20 years old.

A soldier from California was killed in Iraq last week. He was a Staff Sergeant, and was 25 years old.

A soldier from New Hampshire was killed in Iraq last week. He was a Captain, and was 25 years old.

A soldier from North Carolina was killed in Iraq last week. He was a Specialist, and was 33 years old.

A soldier from Michigan was killed in Iraq last week. He was a Specialist, and was 23 years old.

A soldier from Arkansas was killed in Iraq last week. He was a Private, and was 21 years old.

Nine soldiers, whose names I am withholding out of respect for their families, are gone. Nine soldiers gone in less than a week, nine names added to the bloody list, a list that totals 45 soldiers killed in Iraq over the short passage of twelve days in April. 45 soldiers killed in less than two weeks, added to the 81 soldiers lost in March, added to the 80 soldiers lost in February, added to the 3,292 lost since Bush's wretched misadventure in Iraq began four long years ago.

This is the "surge" you've heard about, three months along now, and that smothering euphemism is brutally appropriate. Critics tried to label this newest fiasco an "escalation" in the media when it began, so the truth of it wouldn't be buried under kinder, gentler, politically soothing terminology. Yet "surge" is the word, and the lethality of it all is only lost when we fail to take a moment to encompass it.

Bush and his people have "surged" about 200 American soldiers into the cold ground over this new year, have "surged" about 200 folded American flags into the trembling hands of shattered families, have "surged" woe and horror and sorrow into the hearts and souls of people from all points on the national compass. They have not "surged" any kind of success into the Iraq equation, of course, but this becomes mere grist for the political mill only when the rest of us fail to take a moment and remember that failed policies these days are always paid for in blood.

45 soldiers in 12 days. Will it be 90 soldiers in 24 days? One hundred soldiers when the time comes to turn the calendar page? More?

Who can say? The only constant is butchery, and as we slide along this axis of inevitable carnage day after day, we can depend upon a daily dose of death to present itself before us. We can, and must, engage in the political fights of this hour. We must demand accountability, push for hearings and subpoenas, and work to corner this deranged administration so that maybe, just maybe, a chance to stop the killing can be seized.

Take this moment, just a small slice of time, for death. In all the noise and thunder and shouting, don't forget to take that small moment. It is the very least we, the living, can do.


William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is now available from PoliPointPress.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Julian Assange: A Thousand Days In Belmarsh
Julian Assange has now been in the maximum-security facilities of Belmarsh prison for over 1,000 days. On the occasion of his 1,000th day of imprisonment, campaigners, supporters and kindred spirits gathered to show their support, indignation and solidarity at this political detention most foul... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: The Mauling Of Novak Djokovic
Rarely can the treatment of a grand sporting figure by officialdom have caused such consternation. Novak Djokovic, the tennis World Number One, has always had a tendency to get under skin and constitution, creating a large following of admirers and detractors. But his current treatment by Australian authorities, and his subsequent detention as an unlawful arrival despite being granted a visa to participate in the Australian Open, had the hallmarks of oppression and incompetent vulgarity... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Voices Of Concern: Aussies For Assange’s Return

With Julian Assange now fighting the next stage of efforts to extradite him to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 of which are based on the brutal, archaic Espionage Act, some Australian politicians have found their voice. It might be said that a few have even found their conscience... More>>

Forbidden Parties: Boris Johnson’s Law On Illegal Covid Gatherings

It was meant to be time to reflect. The eager arms of a new pandemic were enfolding a society with asphyxiating, lethal effect. Public health authorities advocated various measures: social distancing, limited contact between family and friends, limited mobility. No grand booze-ups. No large parties. No bonking, except within dispensations of intimacy and various “bubble” arrangements. Certainly, no orgies... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Question Time Is Anything But
The focus placed on the first couple of Question Time exchanges between the new leader of the National Party and the Prime Minister will have seemed excessive to many but the most seasoned Parliamentary observers. Most people, especially those outside the Wellington beltway, imagine Question Time is exactly what it sounds... More>>

Gasbagging In Glasgow: COP26 And Phasing Down Coal

Words can provide sharp traps, fettering language and caging definitions. They can also speak to freedom of action and permissiveness. At COP26, that permissiveness was all the more present in the haggling ahead of what would become the Glasgow Climate Pact... More>>