Promise of Sacrifice: The Mother of All Bombs
March 29, 2003
By Carol Norris
Just before war broke out George Bush spoke to the world
and said, "War has no certainty except the certainty of sacrifice."
Coming from a man of extraordinary privilege who has never
felt the ravages of war, these words rang hollow. The only
thing that quieted the ringing of his words was the roar of
Attached to Bush's script about sacrifice was a well-worn
wish list that has been tucked away in the pockets of those
in his administration and their friends for many years. It's
a continuation of the once only dreamed of wish list that
has been checked off item by item since 9/11. And while the
Bush administration is not the first to use the costume of
war – the war on terror, in this case - to push through
policy, it is unparalleled in its brazenness and entitlement,
and in the sheer scope of demands made and gains gotten.
And now as US war efforts have shifted to Iraq, the Bush
administration has fresh sacrifices to ask for, new items
to check off its wish list in the form of new legislation
and directives to be noiselessly ushered through and implemented
as the eyes of the world are unwaveringly fixed on Iraq and
ads for duct tape sales.
But if a pair of eyes does happen to stray and see the goings
on of the Bush administration, Bush & Co. are well protected
in their irreproachable, impenetrable armor of "sacrifice,"
"national security," "patriotism," and "terror," chilling
questions and dissent as they pass laws that are doing the
same by eroding much needed checks and balances.
It is Bush's promise of sacrifice - the deployment of an
arsenal of domestic legislative bombs and the depletion of
myriad foreign and domestic policies - and not the new 21,000-pound
giant of the current war that is The Mother of All Bombs because
it will cause the mother of all damage.
The sacrifices we will be asked to make are not relatively
small, temporary ones like having computer donation drives
or rationing cell phone minutes. Many will be ongoing and
profound. And the new sacrifices will be heaped on the vast
sacrifices many of us have already made in the form of such
things as the quality of our children's education; the quality
of our retirement years; the longstanding freedoms guaranteed
to US citizens; and the quality of the daily lives, or in
fact, the very lives of many veterans and civilians the world
over. Among other forfeitures, Bush is proposing more cuts
to our domestic programs than has ever been seen in history.
Americans, who are struggling to stay afloat amidst a floundering
economy, whose states are facing their worst budget crises
since the Depression, are asked to sacrifice. We, the overwhelming
majority of whom are not getting so much as a dribble from
previous Bush administration tax cuts, nor will most of us
get a drop from his new mammoth tax cut proposal, are asked
We, many of whose children don't have updated text books
to read, whose school buildings are crumbling and leaking
and whose teachers are being laid off in large numbers due
to skewed budget priorities and now reallocation of funds
for the war, are asked to sacrifice. We, whose administrators
of our children's schools are forced to give private information
about every single school child to military recruiters or
lose precious funding, and whose administrators have sometimes
run out of options except to sell their schools to corporations
to keep them minimally functioning, are asked to sacrifice.
Mr. Bush asks those of us who find ourselves, our friends
and our children increasingly falling ill to breast cancer,
prostate cancer, childhood leukemia, asthma, Alzheimer's and
"mysterious illnesses" that many scientists and doctors attest
are from breathing toxic air and drinking toxic water made
more and more toxic by the Bush administration's relaxation
of industry regulations to pay back campaign contributors,
to sacrifice. All this as the Bush administration passes laws
to prevent us from accessing information about what toxic
chemicals are near our homes.
He asks the 40+ million Americans who don't have access to
affordable health care and those of us who are paying exorbitant
prices for medicines to combat the above illnesses, to sacrifice.
He asks many of our elderly who find themselves forced to
choose between electricity and expensive prescription drugs
because the pharmaceutical lobby has blocked the introduction
of readily available, affordable generic and non-patentable
alternatives, with the aid of the Bush administration, to
sacrifice. He asks this as he proposes changes to Medicare
making it more difficult for the elderly to appeal benefit
denials, and as he slides in unrelated clauses in security
bills protecting pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits regarding
reportedly unsafe vaccines.
He asks a country that has seen business cut a whopping 2.5
million jobs since 9.11; whose poor are getting poorer; whose
rich are getting richer with tax cuts and loopholes and lucrative
industry and military deals to sacrifice as he introduces
a plan that would make it much harder for low income families
to get government benefits, a plan that would cut billions
of dollars in child nutrition, food stamp, health care, and
school lunch programs.
He asks a country whose middle class is dwindling, their
hard-earned retirement savings gone or greatly diminished,
forcing many at retirement age to continue working, to sacrifice.
He asks many of us who find ourselves almost obsessively watching
"reality" shows and programs that promise a few lucky people
instant fame and fortune because we know in our hearts that
The American Dream for most of us no longer exists, to sacrifice.
On March 4th, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist spoke to
our veterans and asked them to sacrifice. He later stated
that during war, "we all have to sacrifice in various ways…and
it applies to groups like the veterans."
Among the veterans, the Bush administration asks the approximately
221,000 casualties of the Gulf War – roughly 30% of all Gulf
War veterans who, almost assuredly, scientists tell us, suffer
from the negative effects of depleted uranium (DU), to sacrifice
by way of an unbelievable $14.6 million cut in veterans' programs.
(In 1991, when the war got such positive press for being a
"clean" war, the casualty number from the Gulf War was 760.)
He asks the Gulf War veterans, whose DU complications include
such things as respiratory problems, fibromyalgia, semen that
contains significant levels of uranium, passing problems and
serious birth defects onto their children, whose quality of
life for some is all but nonexistent, causing divorces, serious
depression and suicide (which all-too often has been denied
or minimized by the government), to sacrifice.
(We will gladly offer our thanks for helping us kick Saddam's
ass last time, says the Bush administration. But we don't
have much else to offer. Certainly not lifelong health benefits,
because we're cutting those. And all you "well-to-do" vets
– those that make over $26,000 a year - we want you to pay
a premium for benefits that were once free. We have a new
war to fight, you see, new DU bombs to build and new future
veterans, who are currently risking their lives in Iraq, to
expose to even higher levels of depleted uranium.)
Bush asks the people of the world, whose environment he has
significantly helped to degrade by walking away from the Kyoto
Treaty and relaxing environmental protection standards, to
sacrifice. He asks the people of the Southern hemisphere,
many of whom have been stripped of their natural resources
and ability to independently earn a living by the strong-arming
of Bush-aided big agribusiness and the intrusion of corporate
enterprise, toxins and control, to sacrifice.
He asks the people of the world whose lives he has made immeasurably
less safe by walking away from the International Criminal
Court, by ignoring the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, by greatly
undermining the peacekeeping authority of the UN (apparently,
happily so, if Richard Perle's editorial entitled "Thank God
for the Death of the UN" is any indication), by eschewing
respectful diplomacy and fractionalizing long-standing alliances,
by breaching the Chemical Weapons Convention with the promise
of using riot-control agents in Iraq, and by creating a monumental,
incalculably dangerous worldwide paradigm shift with his preemptive,
unilateral war, setting the stage for others to do the same,
to sacrifice. (India and Pakistan have reportedly said in
the last few days that the US cannot expect them to use diplomacy
since the US didn't use it in Iraq.)
He asks Iraqis who were brutalized by the first Gulf War
and continue to be brutalized by 12 years of sanctions and
12 years of frequent US bombs and a tyrannical leader, who
are suffering from very serious health consequences from the
320 tons of toxic depleted uranium left all over Iraq in the
Gulf War, with even more powerful and more toxic depleted
uranium reportedly being dropped at this moment, to sacrifice.
He asks them to be willing to sacrifice their homes, their
families, their health and their lives, to suffer through
unimaginable shock and awe, to see centuries old historical
monuments razed to rubble in the name of liberation.
He asks us all to sacrifice reason and rational discourse,
to stay ever fearful; to confuse the horror of 9/11 committed
by one group of people, as a rationale to kill an unrelated
different group of people. He relegates the millions upon
millions of people the world over who are protesting this
war to a "focus group." He tacitly (or sometimes by force)
asks Americans to stay quiet, to not speak out about the truths
around us as he gives orders that block and erode our Constitutional
right to seek truthful information through various lawful
means like the Freedom of Information Act, and as legislation
such as the Patriot Act II is in the works, which, if passed
will make the "inferences" of John Ashcroft law. And he asks
us to rally round him and remain terrified so that we will
support the unjust killing of others in the Iraq war in the
all-too human, but misguided attempt to save ourselves.
We know there are certain things we have to sacrifice. We're
okay with that. It's part of life. But we ask you, Mr. Bush,
Mr. Frist, Carlyle Group members and all you especially well-connected
corporate folks as you sit high atop your Mother of All Bombs,
toasting your good fortune and surveying the sweeping, almost
inconceivable changes you've made to our world and its peoples
in the relatively very short time of your administration;
as you look out over the world that, except for a privileged
few, is being destabilized, shocked and awed, "disciplined,"
bribed, deleted from the record, bombed, made irrelevant,
ignored, alienated, starved, walked away from, underfunded,
fractionalized, devalued both literally and figuratively,
bullied, poisoned, silenced, marginalized and depleted to
smithereens by your policies and actions, what is there left
to sacrifice after this?
Carol Norris is a writer and psychotherapist. She can be contacted