All progressives extend their heartfelt wishes for a speedy, full recovery to ABC journalists Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt, victims of a terrible roadside bombing in Iraq.
Where we differ from conservatives who express similar sentiments is in our honesty regarding IED use by the Iraqi insurgency. No delusions cloud our understanding of what it means, especially in the long run.
Improvised explosive devices -- as made clear in media coverage of hospital care provided those wounded by such weapons -- are the most lethal of all means employed against U.S. troops.
Despite body armor and other countermeasures, the constantly evolving sophistication of these horrific explosives renders them impossible to thwart.
They would kill and maim young Americans who should have never been sent to Iraq in the first place...for years and decades into the bloody future.
If we allowed that to happen, that is, by continuing to adhere to the mad, meat-grinder mentality of George Bush and all those who cruelly, absurdly believe that we must “honor those who’ve died” by dispatching an unending stream of vulnerable vehicles down deathtrap highways until “complete victory” is achieved.
Which is to say “forever”, since the IED is the perfect tactic in the perfect strategy of defeating vastly superior military forces, seminally articulated in Mao Tse Tung’s treatise on people’s revolutionary war, which has certainly been read -- and obviously mastered -- by Iraqi freedom fighters.
Mao’s writings guided the Vietnamese, who defeated three successive imperialisms: the Japanese, the French, and the Americans. And they never used IEDs as their chief way to conquer public will in their aggressor nations’ home populaces. (They did use, however, the simple Bangalore Torpedo to deadly effect against the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.)
The Iraqi insurgency’s capacity to inflict more carnage on our sons and daughters than we’re willing to tolerate is what will guarantee an Iraqi victory more complete and finally chaotic, from Washington’s perspective, than the frenzied helicopter retreat from Saigon in 1975.
Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot.
Suppose the United States was a weak Third World country that an invading superpower had attacked because it wanted to depose our leadership and steal our wealth. You and I would fight for our freedom by the most effective methods at our disposal. We’d quickly learn how to construct and deploy IEDs in the enemy’s path, knowing that they could be detonated remotely at little danger to ourselves.
If the bloodied, frustrated invader resorted to indiscriminate, repressive sweeps of our residential neighborhoods to try to solve the “problem” -- as U.S. troops in Iraq are routinely ordered to do -- they’d achieve nothing but further alienate and anger us, leading to more Americans taking up the devastatingly effective IED tactic.
Suppose, also, that a majority of common people in the aggressor nation disapproved of the war that their very unpopular leaders had gotten them into, through a bogus rationale predicated on outrageous lies.
How long do you think it would take before our fiery detonations and the returning aluminum caskets of their hapless children combined to create an immutable, objective reality that would spell the enemy’s complete, ignoble defeat?
Not a defeat for those common people -- who would attain a victory over their own reactionaries in power -- but for that aggressor state’s equivalents of our Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.
Be sure to attend antiwar protests slated for March 18-19 that will demand an immediate, safe withdrawal of all of our troops.
It’s the only way to prevent an otherwise catastrophic, staggeringly costly fiasco painfully borne by countless American mothers and fathers.
* * * *
More miners died in West Virginia recently, causing its angered governor to order a shutdown of all mining operations within the state.
It’s instructive to compare West Virginia’s recent flurry of “disasters” at non-union mines, with extensive records of safety violations, with what happened in Saskatchewan, Canada not long ago.
There, 72 miners were initially feared lost, but all survived because the mine where they worked was equipped with an extensive network of “safe rooms” that contained emergency food, water, first-aid gear and all-important oxygen reserves.
That’s how simple it is to keep men alive when things go awry underground.
It costs mine owners a little more to arrange for such life-saving apparatus, however.
In the Bush administration’s corporate-coddling national environment, greedy owners who’ll shamelessly sacrifice human need to attain the almighty dollar often cut corners in vital, safety-related areas.
And federal regulators, actually beholden to the industry, either turn a blind eye and deaf ear to blatant violations, or impose meaningless, wrist-slap “fines.”
Woody Guthrie sang about how “some men rob you with a pistol, others with a fountain pen.”
When good workers become victims of dreadfully bad, profits-before-people agreements that rob them of their very lives, shouldn’t it properly be called murder?
* * * *
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to patronize oil companies. Take a bus, ride a bike, or walk instead.
But Venezuelan-owned Citgo isn’t your typical petroleum-refining behemoth.
Unlike Exxon-Mobil and other profiteering giants that cynically rip us off at the gas pump, Citgo is now a vital part of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution” and provides a strong, steady stream of revenue devoted to overcoming poverty not just in that South American country.
Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez has made discounted Citgo heating oil available to a growing list of low-income communities in the United States, ranging from inner city ghettos to rural, Native-American reservations.
Maybe all of us who are hard-pressed to meet our heating bills -- and saddled with an administration that invariably sides with the rich against the poor -- ought to appeal directly for Venezuelan foreign aid.
During the Cold War, there was a town in Appalachia, as I recall, that couldn’t get Washington’s assistance in repairing a badly deteriorated bridge where accidents were occurring. Someone got the idea of appealing to Moscow for Soviet aid.
Subsequent publicity did the trick. In no time flat, Congress loosened its purse strings and construction crews were on the scene to make repairs.
Yup. Maybe we all ought to write imploring letters to president Chavez in Caracas, since communicating with George Bush in D.C. will do nothing but get us broke and frozen.
Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary for various outlets since the Sixties. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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