This week, we passed the 10th year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Yesterday marked a decade since President George W. Bush gave the order to invade Iraq, and since then, it's so much a part of life, it's easy to forget just how wrong it was that we even invaded in the first place. But thanks to a letter from a dying soldier named Tomas Young, we ought to be pulled right back to reality.
This war was wrong. It was started on lies. Bush told us there were weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. We believed him and we supported his greed and since then, 4,488 soldiers and Marines have died in Iraq. Every one of them had people. They had moms and dads and sisters and brothers and wives and husbands. And they all died for Bush's lies.
Remind me why he isn't charged with war crimes? Young was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. He is living under hospice care, but wanted to write one "last letter" to Bush and Dick Cheney. And his words are painful. See below:
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
The anger is palpable. Who could blame him? We talk a big game of supporting our troops and we wear yellow ribbons and we claim to care, but when push comes to shove, we are not there, fighting for what is right. What Bush did was wrong. And yet he isn't being held accountable. Young goes on:
I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.
It's a heartbreaking plea and one that wouldn't have to happen if Bush had just been honest. Sure, presidents make hard decisions every day, but this wasn't a hard decision. This was a lie. A lie that killed millions.
Sometimes it's easy to forget what a horrible president Bush was. It's easy to slip into complacency and laugh at how funny his paintings of himself in the shower are and kind of have a new respect for him as a doddering old coot.
And then I read something like this and remember the legacy he left us with. I have been lucky in that my life was relatively untouched by his lies. But Young -- and many like him -- haven't been as lucky.
On the anniversary, we should be thinking of them. They had courage, bravery, and loyalty and all the things our country asks of our military. And our president lied to them. Why is that OK.
My heart breaks for Young and I salute his courage and his outspokenness even at the end of his life. We owe him our attention and our anger.
Do you think Bush should pay for his lies?
Image via brittanylynae/Flickr