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War is war, change wasn't change

Posted: February 9, 2012 - 12:07am

In a Jan. 31,2012 Juneau Empire “My Turn” column, Deborah Craig states that the GOP feeds us “a steady diet of misinformation and skewed views despite the facts: Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, nor instigate 9/11. The U.S. cannot bomb or invade our way to world respect.” And the Democrats think differently? Democrats don’t care about the war. The war protests mysteriously ended with the Obama inauguration. The wars did not. There was no “change we can believe in.”

I received a 50th birthday fundraiser invitation for Democratic Sen. Mark Begich. Many notables were on the invitation, including current and former assembly members and union heads and local Democratic party leaders who will be there to support Mark with their money and votes. According to Sen. Begich’s website: “I am committed to disrupting, dismantling and defeating the terrorist al-Qaida network in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. As a result of the visit with our troops I worked tirelessly to support necessary personnel increases in our military to ensure the right force was in place.” This is not a man who is going to bring our kids home from these senseless wars. He wants to send more. President Obama and our Congressional delegation recently sent home a Juneau soldier who lost three limbs and had a head injury. Another was sent home missing his foot. These heroes won’t be doing any celebrating. Not birthday celebrating, anyway. 

They’ll celebrate walking again.

Begich, along with our Democratic president and our two Republican congressmen support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama claims he’ll spend more than President George W. Bush did on defense when he left office. His GOP rivals say they’ll spend more. In the meantime, Senators Begich and Lisa Murkowski, Rep. Don Young and President Obama continue sending Juneau’s kids home from the wars with injuries — some we can see, and others we can’t.

We are on the brink of another war — with Iran. It’s a favorite tactic of sitting presidents and congressmen — to get into a conflict near the end of their term because they know the sheep will not want to “change horses in mid-stream” at election time. This is not a Democrat or GOP thing. War is big money. War backers are not only the Blackwaters and Halliburtons of the world, but our local political parties, unions, Native corporations and business leaders who back our congressional delegation for their own purposes — or ours, if you belong to their unions, parties, or corporations. Whether supporters claim to be pro-life or pro-choice, environmentalist or capitalist, pro-union or pro-business — one thing is certain: they support the candidates that continue the war.

Support for Alaska’s Congressional delegation, President Obama or the leading GOP candidates is support for the war. We know it’s wrong, but can’t bring ourselves to put peace above our other interests. There will be candidates out there against the war, from union board candidates to presidential candidates. We have to ask our leaders unequivocally if they support the candidates that support the war. If they do, we need to fire them at the polls or the union vote or the corporation board vote. Praying for peace ain’t gettin’ it. Voting for a pro-war candidate because you don’t think an anti-war candidate can win or won’t get your corporation or union a contract or isn’t from your party ain’t gettin’ it either. 

There will come a day when we have a memorial in Washington, D.C. for our kids we’ve sent to these wars in the Middle East. Like the Vietnam memorial, we will stare at the names and wonder what the lives of these sons and daughters, spouses and parents, would have been like if they were still alive. And why we sent them there in the first place. And what their purpose was for dying. We’ll pass homeless people who made it home from the war in body but not in mind, and wonder why they can’t get a job.

We’re fooling ourselves to think we’re any freer sending our kids to the other side of the planet to fight wars where “victory” cannot even be defined, much less achieved. I’d rather bring our kids home and take my chances. 

• Stopha is a North Douglas resident with no political party affiliation.

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