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In defense of honoring civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

International TravelInternational Military InterventionsIraqArmed ConflictsIraq War (2003-2011)

Letter writer Michael Richardson of Perry Hall promises not to buy The Sun as long as Jean Marbella and Dan Rodricks write for the paper ("Tired of unfair attacks on Republicans couched in 9/11 remembrance," Sept. 13). He is mad that Mr. Rodrick's column for the Sept. 11 anniversary ("In anger and pain, little sympathy for the 'deaths of others,'" Sept. 11) showed no decency by connecting the Iraq War with President Bush and Sept. 11.

Mr. Richards, in a feeble attempt to exonerate President Bush, says that the Iraq War happened two years after Sept. 11 as though we must all conclude from that fact that Sept. 11 had nothing to do with the Iraq War. Mr. Richards is trying to rewrite history and seems to suffer from amnesia about the genesis of the Iraq War. Does he not remember how the neo-conservatives who surrounded Mr. Bush cooked up a fantastic tale about hidden weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Does he not remember the impending mushroom cloud that the toothless Saddam Hussein was going to unleash on this world as per Mr. Bush and the frenzy that was whipped up by the Republican administration of the time, about the imminent danger Iraq posed to the world?

Mr. Bush and company were going to take out Saddam Hussein one way or another and they just needed a pretext to go about their predetermined assault. Sept. 11, the mood and fear it cast like a pall over the country came in handy for Mr. Bush, Dick Cheney and the neo-cons. What about the yellow cake uranium story, according to which Mr. Hussein was trying to purchase uranium from Niger to fulfill his nuclear ambitions? The whole thing was baloney, to say the least, but it was sold to the American public and the Congress, in an act of unconscionable fraud. It took a minimum of two years for this deliberate eyewash to gestate in the devious minds of the neo-cons and come to fruition as the Iraq War. Later, as the war went on for years, sucking the air out of the American economy, the Republicans, in a complete mockery of common sense, rewrote their motive as the liberation of the Iraqis from under the heel of a despot and now they have the audacity to claim that the Arab Spring itself may be a domino effect of the Iraq War.

A lot of revisionist history occurs long after historical events have come to pass but in the case of our most recent wars, the Republicans have plotted and let loose benign, lofty, patriotic, pro-democracy and pro-freedom revisionist versions on an unsuspecting and gullible American public, repeatedly and deliberately. Michael Richardson of Perry hall, your letter writer, seems to have bought these stories and hence his tirade against the Sun and Mr. Rodricks.

On a slightly different take, letter writer Jane Wagner of Berlin claims she was sickened by Mr. Rodricks' Sept. 11 column because it asked us to remember and mourn the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq who perished in the two wars we have waged interminably ("Sickening 9/11 column," Sept. 14). Ms. Wagner takes umbrage because mourning dead Iraqis and Afghans is an insult to her son-in-law who has done several tours of duty in Iraq and, according to her, it is also an unnecessary gesture toward folks who rejoiced, on the streets, that Sept. 11 happened. If, as she says, we are in Iraq and Afghanistan to help the people of those two countries, then to mourn the appalling, collateral loss of civilian lives there should be part of the help we are extending to the two ravaged nations.

Our military leaders, more conscious than Ms. Wagner of the unintended horror of civilian lives lost, sincerely recoiled by it, aware of the hostility and hatred this can engender, have offered numerous apologies to the people and leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan to soften the blows of war. Whenever there have been wanton and callous killings of civilians by U.S. soldiers, the military has either risen to the occasion and investigated these murders or it has been forced to do so by the media and human rights organizations.

The Iraqis and the Afghans have suffered many times over. Mesopotamia, today's Iraq, for years was exploited and ruled by the colonialists of the West, who plundered that region's oil reserves. Under Winston Churchill, Great Britain killed a great many Iraqis after WW I, using systematic aerial bombardment and even mustard gas because it didn't want to loosen its grip on the oil rich area. Afghanistan suffered under Great Britain, Russia and afterward under the horrible and insane Taliban. The American Empire then marched in for revenge and its own share of the oil. No bell has tolled for these long-suffering people and no monument memorializes their lives and aspirations in their own countries.

Every life has value and every death breaks the hearts of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and others connected to that life. We should mourn what we have wrought and we should cry that man's proclivity for war has continued unbroken for centuries. Mr. Rodricks is absolutely right. To me, the water that cascades in the Sept. 11 memorial symbolizes peace and the pit into which it goes is where all the innocent souls lost to war and terror, the Americans, the Iraqis and the Afghans, are joined together to be quenched and calmed. That lovely memorial has universal meaning and appeal and Ms. Wagner should rethink her diatribe.

Usha Nellore, Bel Air

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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