What’s wrong with our Congress? Two and a half years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, they still refuse to vote against the war. They may carp and complain that the Bush administration lied about weapons of mass destruction, or that too many Americans soldiers have died, but when it comes time to vote to bring the troops home they absolutely refuse: the latest vote stood at 403-3.
Even Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania, who the day before had noted “the U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily,” voted against ending the occupation.
Why Murtha and his antiwar colleagues voted “no,” I cannot say. Murtha’s speech on the need for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq was eloquent and well-informed. He noted that the United States military is not rebuilding the electric grid or water system as it claims and that unemployment in Iraq currently stands at least 60 percent. “U.S. troops,” he noted, “have become a catalyst for violence” rather than a force that keeps the peace.
And why not? Put yourself in the shoes of an average Iraqi.
More than two and a half years after your “liberation,” over 130,000 foreign troops still patrol through your country’s streets and alleyways, arresting your neighbors and taking them off to Abu Ghraib. Almost two years after photos revealed graphic torture in American-run prisons, the Pentagon admits it still holds more than 13,000 so-called “security detainees” in Iraq. These detainees don’t get charged with any crime; they’re simply brought before a secret military tribunal, which decides their fate.
As many Iraqis ask, “Where is the democracy? Where is the freedom?”
Imagine you are the brother, father, nephew, uncle, or cousin of one of the 13,000 locked up by the occupation authorities? What would you do?
Imagine you are the brother, father, nephew, uncle, or cousin of one of the innocent civilians burned alive by white phosphorus in Fallujah? Would you bring flowers and candy to American soldiers, or try to kill them?
Imagine you are afraid to send your children to school or to go pray at the mosque, because at any moment your life might end in a suicide bombing or an American reprisal? Would you want the U.S. military to stay in your country, or would you trace the start of the horrific violence to their appearance on the scene?
None of these questions were raised during the debate Friday on a measure to bring American troops home. Instead, congressmen who claim to oppose the war screamed at the Republican leadership for asking them to put their vote where their mouth is.
Massachusetts Democrat Marty Meehan yelled: “You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!”
The House leadership is pathetic indeed for supporting George Bush’s failed policies in Iraq, but Meehan and his colleagues should be ashamed of themselves for not voting for a change.