I wish I could say that only George W. Bush had the gall to stand up on a day set aside to honor those who died in service to their country and use that day as a propaganda backdrop to promote an illegal and immoral war.
But Bush is just the leader of a gang of opportunists who use war to promote political agendas, fatten wallets and profit from mercenary greed.
From those in Congress, Republican and Democrat, who blindly voted to give Bush the power to wage war to his fat cat friends at Halliburton who profit daily from no-bid contracts to the many contractors, mercenaries and profiteers who get rich on the death and suffering of others, the brutal realities of the Iraq invasion dishonored those who died to serve their country.
Yet another American soldier died in Iraq on Memorial Day, along with two members of a CBS news crew and dozens of Iraqi civilians as suicide bombers and car bombs decimated the streets and roads of the country.
Bush callously stood before the families of Americans who have died in war and used the day to promote his failed Iraq agenda, talking cruelly of “completing missions” and staying the course.
It is a dishonor to those who died for Bush to even set foot in Arlington Cemetery. He hid like a coward during the Vietnam War, seeking refuge in the Texas Air Guard and then compounding the insult by not even completing his assigned duties in that non-combat unit.
And it is a sad, cruel irony that this coward, who used the National Guard to hide from war now, more than any other President, now sends members of the Guard and Reserves into Iraq to die for his war based on lies and a pre-determined political agenda.
The evidence says Bush planned a war with Iraq even before taking the Presidency in the disputed 2000 election. During the campaign, he talked about the need to “eliminate Saddam Hussein,” hinted at it again during his inaugural speech and then ordered the Pentagon to prepare plans for an invasion as one of his first actions as President.
When the nation reeled from the shock and horror of the 9/11 attacks, Bush showed no surprise or shock. He finished reading a children’s story to a group of elementary school kids, then climbed into Air Force One and calmly told his assembled group of staff and advisors that “OK, we’re at war.” Within hours, targets were identified, plans readied and invasion orders prepared.
In retrospect, it was all too convenient, too prepared, too scripted. A President who wanted desperately to go to war had his excuse and the backing of a shell-shocked Congress and numbed American population.
Over the last four-and-a-half years, however, realization has replaced shock and we see more clearly how manipulation of events led to a war that was always part of the plan.
As I watched Bush deliver his Memorial Day speech at Arlington Cemetery Monday, I saw a man without an ounce of grief or remorse. Bush delivered his speech in a cold, calculated way, using a day of honor for dishonorable purposes, exploiting a time of grief to further his political agenda.
The debacle of Iraq will forever define the Presidency of George W. Bush as a monumental failure. But that is a political failure. Bush’s loyalty lies not with the American people but with special interests that have long owned him. Those interests – the Halliburtons, the vast corporate defense industrial cabal and the mercenaries who always profit from war – got what they wanted.
They won, but America lost, and that loss will haunt this nation for many, many years.