For several days, I’ve read, written, deleted, read more, written more, deleted. I confess. I don’t know exactly what the hell is going on in Iraq except that this War of Terror is an epic clusterfuck and that the US armed Syrian jihadis who now have entered Iraq to join Sunni extremists in slaughtering Shi’ites.
Perhaps that George Bush “Mission Accomplished” photo op was a celebratory slam-dunk to commemorate Middle East destabilization—a goal that was supposed to lead to another: neo-liberalizing Iraq.
On Friday, June 13, early afternoon, my brother Mark called. CNN’s Pamela Brown was interviewing Marine Staff Sergeant Mitch Beeler, who served with my nephew Chase (killed in Iraq on August 6, 2005), about the current Iraq situation. Pamela and Chase were friends, grew up together in Lexington, Kentucky, saying they’d marry someday.
Late Friday, Mark sent a link to the CNN video. After watching it, I lay awake, thinking of Chase’s death scene. Witnesses had told Mark that Chase was leading a convoy when a vehicle approached. Chase stood, aiming his rifle. Loaded with explosives, the vehicle slammed into Chase, blowing off his face. I closed my eyes and saw him, standing with his rifle, aimed at the driver that moved closer, closer, closer. I know Chase knew, had time to know, he was going to die. And I couldn’t sleep.
It’s been almost nine years since Chase died. I think of him often, but not the way I did Friday night. Usually, I see the child, adorable and little-boy naughty. Never in that amphibious assault vehicle thousands of miles from home, because I don’t want to dwell on that, the choice he made to enlist, engaging in whatever he was trained to do, whatever, whatever, whatever. Whatever we know troops are trained to execute in dehumanizing another person and therefore dehumanizing themselves. I can’t bear to think about his death and what he was ordered to do in my name, in our names.
Many times when I lived in New York City, I took the train to Baltimore to either attend or speak at a DC peace rally. Mark called the evening before one of these, one at which I was scheduled to speak. He said an acquaintance, offering condolences, told him Chase died protecting his country. Mark responded, “No, Chase did not die protecting his country. The suicide bomber who killed Chase died protecting his country.” I knew this would be the bulk of my speech, brief yet powerful—my brother’s words spoken in painful truth.
These words are with me now, were with me on my morning run when I went out to sweat some anxiety but returned still carrying oppressive apprehension. I’ve heard the fear mongers, those predicting more attacks here at home, the jingoists, artful in frightening the public to juice up American nationalism. No acknowledgement from them about Iraqi sacrifice. No recognition that Saddam Hussein kept the balance; that the 2003 incursion and the dictator’s overthrow resulted in chaos. The mainstream media are complicit partners, interviewing not just the same bloodthirsty endorsers of violence but also veterans, like Staff Sergent Beeler who said we can’t allow a breeding ground for terrorism after we provided a safer environment, liberated women and children.
Again, I don’t understand exactly what’s happening, but it’s reported that there’s a new and meaner bin Laden, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with a $10 million US bounty on his head. There always will be someone to scare us stupid, replacing the villain eliminated by a team of US special operatives after which Americans can chant, “USA! USA! USA!”
Earlier this week, I read that Obama’s deployed troops to Iraq and that more are on standby, combat ready.
It’s Wednesday night. The DC death dealers convened today to strategize. Despite calling Iranians “thugs and killers,” Lindsey Graham, who customarily errs on the side of aggression with congressional thugs and killers, called for dialogue with Iran, diplomacy.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney said administration lawyers are examining the legal implications if Obama chooses military action and doesn’t seek congressional approval.
Gen. Martin Dempsey said, “ . . . anytime we use US military force, we use it for those things that are in our national interest. That’s the standard.” When asked if the US will honor Iraq’s request for air power, Dempsey said, “It is in our national security interest to counter ISIL wherever we find them.”
No surprise that Obama has announced the deployment of up to 300 military “advisers” to Iraq.
Years ago, Henry Kissinger said, “Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” My nephew was among the 4,500 US pawns killed during use in Iraq, where millions of Iraqis have been murdered, maimed, or displaced by Empire. You know, for “those things that are in our national interest,” but actually, really, ultimately aren’t.
Missy Comley Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.