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Autumn Leaves and the Failed Iraq Experiment
November 18, 2003
By Manuel Valenzuela

Autumn leaves continue to fall inconspicuously throughout the United States just like our cannon-fodder troops fall dead, maimed and scarred in the Mesopotamian deserts of Iraq. Throughout our nation, lawns surrounded by white-picket fences and small blotches of green in concrete jungles are covered by dry and dead brown leaves signaling the change in the seasons, as warmth and comfort gives way to the dreaded doldrums of winter. As each day passes, more leaves fall to the ground, leaving bare the skeletons of wood around and above us, a stark reminder of the hibernation of life in the natural world.

In similar ways, the loss of life and limb of our soldiers in Iraq continues unabatedly in a far away land. Like our leaves, soldiers continue to fall and die, their bodies devoid of a life once so full of energy. More than 400 have died, and the number of injured is eight times that, conveniently hidden from Americans' view, lest we see the horrors that our little war for oil has spawned. They might be called lucky to have escaped the claws of explosives, flying shrapnel or bullets whizzing by their heads were it not true that many will have to continue living without hands, arms, legs and feet or with severe burns, scars, brain damage and handicaps that will forever traumatize their lives.

Of course the hidden and much more dehabilitating scars, the psychological, emotional and mental ones will linger perpetually in the minds of thousands who will never be able to escape the terror of war. These demons will haunt them for the rest of their lives. And, lest not we forget, thousands of these brave and young men and women will carry with them back to their homes the pulverized remnants of depleted uranium from our bombs, creating in them diseases and sicknesses that act like a timebomb, ready to afflict and decimate over the course of time.

Much like Gulf War I, where anywhere from 8000 to 9000 of its veterans have already died from mysterious illnesses including numerous cancers, and where hundreds of babies have been born dead or deformed in ways never seen before, today's troops may suffer similar fates. One need only look inside Iraq, where thousands upon thousands of civilians alive in the early 1990s have died from cancers and other diseases, and where thousands of babies have suffered the same fate as those born to those of our own soldiers. Knowing that tens of thousands of tons of bombs and missiles made of depleted uranium have been dropped on Iraq in Gulf War II, it is a good bet that many more thousands of Iraqi civilians and American troops will suffer the same fate. The remains of depleted uranium are literally littered throughout Iraq, contaminating land, air, water and humans. And we can't seem to find WMDs. I know where these WMDs are: stockpiled in our bases, right inside our country. Right in front of our noses, and we attack Iraq with them. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Iraq. Fertile Crescent no more. Are we such hypocrites?

Over 7000 soldiers already injured in some way, shape or form, but how quickly they are forgotten by an administration that will not dare go to funerals or hospitals for fear of awakening the presently placid storm called the American public. Men and women of the underclass, from rural and urban homes, their families supporting this adventure in empire building with their hard earned wages fight for the interests of the upper class. What a dishonor to these fallen heroes to sweep them away into a dark closet, without mention or acknowledgement, used as nothing more than expendable pawns in Bush's war. The United Corporations of America is at it again, lying and manipulating, warmongering and profiteering, once more terrorizing the planet.

The administration bans cameras from showing dead soldiers returning in their flag-draped coffins. It uses its powers to hinder the media from showing armless and legless privates. This is done for the sake of brushing clean the horrors of war and anesthetizing a Hollywood conditioned citizenry into believing that this is just another PG-13 movie, just another violent video game where the good guys always win and never suffer anything but cuts and bruises. Quite simply, it is yet another fantasy that gets absorbed into our psyche. This is called the art of sanitized warfare, a good news-only policy of selling death and destruction to American citizens. It is politics at its worst, cynically gone mad, a way to keep Bush's poll numbers up in light of his re-election campaign, a way to keep citizens supportive of the war and designed to maintain the country ignorant to a reality that is the wickedness of war.

If we cannot see the reality of war, and are only allowed to see a fictional delusion of it then we will never empathize with the dead or wounded, we will never see death, blood and gore, the inextricable agony and suffering of a dying soldier or a maimed Iraqi child crying out in terror for her mother. In short, we will never see war, thus becoming immune to the all-too-real, chilling and sobering effects of man killing man with the most violent of weapons. Congratulations George, you have succeeded in curtailing outrage and furor by conditioning us through movies, games, media lies, charades and delusion.

#### Iraq today is an amalgam of Saddam loyalists, a few foreign fighters and a growing number of ordinary civilians joining what Bush calls "terrorists" but that in reality are nationalists and insurgents fighting a resistance against our "Iraqipation." To Iraqis and to the rest of the world, they would be called "freedom fighters," much like the ones clandestinely trained, supplied and supported by the United States in their resistance against the Soviets in 1980ís Afghanistan. They are mujahadeen; resistance fighters we at one time thought so highly enough of that we romanticized them in movies, books and in Beltway conversation. Among those freedom fighters, it must be remembered, was included one Osama bin Laden. From CIA-trained freedom fighter to evildoer terrorist, all thanks to our government and all thanks to our jihad-inciting Middle East policies. Today we are the new version of the Soviets, a new breed of Crusaders invading Arab land.

What the Bush administration cannot seem to grasp is that our Iraqipation is reviled in the country and throughout the Arab world. Perhaps the first obvious hint of this is the fact that Iraqis did not welcome us with arms extended as liberators, showering us with perfumed flowers and manna from heaven as the neocons, in their delusion of grandeur expected, but rather as an extension and indeed a mechanism of all those conquering entities that had come before, most notably the Turks of the Ottoman Empire and the English of the last century.

Ordinary Iraqis are not stupid, ignorant fools like those in the administration who concocted this failed experiment with "diraqcracy" seem to think. They smartly noticed that as American troops stormed Iraq, out of the dozens of Ministry buildings in Baghdad only the Ministry of Oil was protected by soldiers during the famous looting that took place during the first weeks of the war. Also, only the vast oil fields scattered throughout the country were secured while all that was sacred in the vast history of the Fertile Crescent was left to looting, pillage and destruction.

Iraq's citizens also remember Saddam as an American puppet in the 70s and 80s, shaking hands with none other than Donald Rumsfeld himself in a friendly exchange of ideas and products, oil for WMDs. These were the same WMDs Bush can't seem to find twenty years later and whose use our government gave the thumbs up to in Iraq's war against Iran. Iraqis no doubt still recollect America's willingness to abandon and sacrifice the Iraqi insurrection against Saddam in the immediate aftermath of Gulf War I, even after we wholeheartedly supported and encouraged it. That failed attempt at toppling Saddam led to the mass graves of 200,000 to 300,000 cadavers that today the Bush administration points to as reason for invading and occupying Iraq.

Of course we shouldn't forget the decade of harsh collective punishment and economic genocide called UN sanctions, meticulously blessed, endorsed, supported and safeguarded by our government, that led to an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children deaths and to the deaths of countless tens of thousands more adults whose only crime was to be Iraqi. The Iraqis, it can be assured, have not forgotten. To many of them, Saddam was no doubt a murdering tyrant but we are much worse; they see us as the evildoers, the real "terrorists" interested not in the Iraqi people but only in their oil. To many in the Arab world, we are the "Evil Empire," and we need to learn that many of our actions give credence to this belief.

Presently, the occupation, with its harsh treatments, unevenhandedness and cultural insensitivities of Iraqis is creating more enemies than friends. The flowers our leaders blissfully and naively expected upon our triumphant entry as liberators have turned into clenched fists, RPGs and AK-47s, where only dead and wounded soldiers land at our feet. We have imported into the desert dunes cookie-cutter factories of resentment, hatred, animosity and revenge. Every innocent dead Iraqi at the hands of our soldiers, every home destroyed, crop razed, or humiliating act perpetrated against the populace is spawning a web of resistance that is growing and getting stronger, uniting against the occupiers who are building permanent bases for strategic interests, sucking Iraq's precious natural resource out of the desert sands and making rich American corporations at the expense of every Iraqi man, woman and child. The battle for securing the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people is over, and "our side" has been soundly defeated, all thanks to the Bush administration's incompetence and yearning for profiteering.

Let's not live in our little escapist Hollywood world any more folks. What we are seeing is the inevitable movement common to all occupations throughout history, namely the urge to resist an invading alien force intent on conquering man and land. It is the drive for freedom all native peoples yearn for when they are confronted by a more powerful nation and army. Like many before, the Iraqi people are now dominated by a force alien to their beliefs, culture, religion and interests. They feel like prisoners in their own land, subject to American rule, and, already having experienced occupation and colonization by foreign powers, do not like being subjugated and having their collective destinies decided by Washington and its collaborator puppets.

In the natural progression of an occupation, the resistance continues to grow as more and more people become aware of what is being done to them and their land. The resistance knows it cannot defeat the monstrously powerful American army head on, but it can chip away at it little by little until its will and that of its people dwindles, until pressure is so intense on the leadership that it cracks. Like a growing storm, the Iraqi resistance, well armed, knowing the terrain, the people, its culture and language, and, more aware of what the lessons of history teach than its adversary, is becoming more powerful, more dangerous and more committed than ever. Its numbers continue to swell and its fighting spirit continues to skyrocket. This is the reality Bush does not want you to know, and the reason we can see his panic in the hastily-decided new policies being implemented today.

The United States is dealing with a resistance that knew all along it could not compete technologically, militarily nor economically on the desert planes or in urban warfare. Instead, it decided to play by its own rules, and today full-blown guerilla warfare is upon our men and women, striking them down one by one. The resistance is shadows, everyone and no-one at the same time. It is as present as Mesopotamian sand and as unseen as its winds. It is as deadly as desert scorpions crawling through the night. It is under rocks, inside flora and in numerous homes and streets, ready to attack, ready to fight stealthily and without warning. It will soon be everywhere, transforming itself into night and again back to day. Sadly, our troops will continue to fall, their energy swept away by sandstorms of explosives and bullets.

Our so-called leaders cry foul because they do not play by our rules, because this wasn't what was supposed to happen. But the resistance plays with what it has, and, in the span of three months, has inflicted more death and injury upon American forces than at any time since Vietnam. It has neutralized the strongest and most powerful army in the world, rendering it susceptible to attack on a daily basis, not knowing who or what the enemy is or where it hides. Our leaders were duped.

This was the plan all along, and the neocons holding Bush's strings fell mightily for it, delusional in their beliefs that they knew the Arab world, and Iraq in particular. In fact, they failed to grasp everything about this growing quagmire, from the Iraqi way of life to the importance of revenge among families to the real feelings towards the United States to the difficult intricacies of tribal and Muslim culture.

Again and again bestowing the virtue of democracy throughout the entire Arab world, they fail to grasp just how historically different and culturally heterogeneous these peoples are to us. Bush talks democracy but what he means is democracy only if it benefits the United States. True democracy in the Arab world, if allowed to prosper, would be anything but good to Bush as fundamentalist Islam and anti-Americanism would reign supreme, thus washing away Bush's neocon vision for the region. This reality is exactly the reason why our government supports dictators and inept monarchs throughout the region, if not the world. They are our puppets, serving our interests, not those of the native populations.

Democracy, after all, is the will of the people, not the design of the delusional. And right now, in the Arab world, anti-Americanism is at an all time high, thanks to Bush and his mentally-challenged foreign policy. "Diraqcracy" will not work, and, as such, will not be granted to the Iraqi people because of the inherent danger to Bush if it is allowed to prosper. Besides, before preaching democracy for the world from his hypocritical pulpit perhaps Bush would be better served restoring it at home first, beginning with an introspection of himself and a careful look at his lack of honor and integrity in blatantly usurping the will of the people and the election of 2000.

If Bush really sought democracy and a better life for billions of world citizens, we would have already invaded, for the sake of freeing and liberating people, dozens of nations, all full of leaders representing the scum of the Earth. There are dozens of Iraqs, dozens of Saddams, but not all with black gold or strategic locations from which to impose imperial aspirations. Altruism is not George Jr.'s strength or motive because if it was, then Africa, rotting for decades in war and disease and continuing its steep fall to the bowels of despair, would have already been anointed with Bush's magic wand of democracy and salvation.

It is time we Americans wake up to the harsh reality that what puppet Bush and his cronies have done has been to alienate the world against us by arrogantly ignoring the collective will of the planet. The world today is much more dangerous than ever before; indeed, the United States is a much more dangerous place today than before 9/11. Bush has not only lost 3 million jobs here; he has created 3 million more jihadists as well, all eyeing their holy war at the United States George W. Bush has created. What Bush does not see is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The entire globe sees how dangerous this administration is, why can't we? It is time we begin questioning authority, stop being fooled and manipulated by the corporate media and start learning about this administration, Iraq, and, most importantly, the world. We are not alone on this planet. The garbage and lies we are fed by television is making fools of us all, and our democracy is disappearing as a result. We are neither informed nor curious, and the robbery of the American soul continues unabated.

Meanwhile, October has given way to November and autumn will soon give way to winter. The last remaining leaves will soon fall from the barren trees as more young Americans return in body bags and without limbs from a war based on deception and an occupation leading to strangulation. Let's hope our troops return home in time to see a new generation of plush, vibrant green leaves arise from the skeletons of reawakening trees. And let's also hope that winter's sun sets permanently on the neocons and the liar called Bush. Next November we can assert our own democracy and make sure of that.

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