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May 4, 2004

Nostradamus, Bush Is Not

by Thomas R. Eddlem

You didn't have to be Nostradamus to predict the Iraq war would come to this. Heck, even I was able to predict it clearly. In a column for Antiwar.com as the Iraqi invasion began (March 2003), I wrote the following:

"I'm not afraid of our troops conquering in Iraq. They'll do that in short order. I am, however, worried about how our soldiers will become prime terrorist targets after the military victory, since I expect they will be transformed into social welfare agents distributing free government surplus cheese and administering a whole array of giveaway programs to an ungrateful occupied nation. Our 'benevolent' occupation of Baghdad will be even less popular than the benevolent British occupation of Boston in 1768."

This is, of course, exactly what happened: the quick military victory, the increasing guerrilla war against our soldiers, the handouts in the $80 billion legislative package that Bush bullied through Congress, and an American occupation that is increasingly unpopular.

The question is, if even this freelance writer can see the Iraq invasion would lead to this (and virtually every other Antiwar.com columnist), why couldn't the president? Instead, Bush continues to peddle juvenile statements about those who engage in terrorist assaults against the United States, such as his rationalization of the reason for the 9/11 attacks:

"They hate us because we love freedom. They hate us because we love the idea that people can worship an almighty God any way they see fit. They hate us because we speak our mind, we allow public discourse and dissent. They hate us because we have a free press. And so long as we love freedom, they'll hate us. But we're never, ever going to relinquish our love of freedom in America."

The official transcript of this speech records applause at the end of this statement, but I suspect it was laughter. A cynic would sarcastically reply, "Ohh, that would explain the rash of terrorism against neutral free countries, such as Switzerland and Sweden." Because we are free, Bush says, desert Bedouins get off their camels, travel halfway around the world and kill themselves? Yeah, right. Bush may convince a fifth grader with that argument, but no person who has outgrown comic books could possibly buy such nonsense.

Bush has reiterated this idiotic statement numerous times, and has been using it this year to explain terrorist attacks against American forces in Iraq. I'm not sure which possibility is worse: that the president is deliberately insulting us with such an obviously false argument, or that he actually believes in this comic book world he is describing.

The Real Reason They Hate Us

One of my favorite Cold War-era propaganda movies, Red Dawn, provides a perfect example of why Iraqis actually hate us. In one scene, the American guerrillas fighting off murderous invading Cuban and Russian forces capture a Russian special forces soldier and are about to execute him in cold blood. Patrick Swayze's character holds a revolver up to the Russian's head as C. Thomas Howell protests: "What's the difference between us and them, Jed? What's the difference?" Then, just before he squeezes the trigger, "Jed" (Patrick Swayze's character) grunts back a reply through clenched teeth: "Because we live here!"

American forces are not comparable to the cartoonishly evil Russo-Cuban occupation forces, but the point is that "they" live there and "we" don't. Swayze's character didn't justify the murder, but his line did explain it. People will go to extremes to defend their native soil, especially when the foreign occupiers have killed family members. And America's two unnecessary wars against Iraq have killed tens of thousands of Iraqis. Each death creates several more hateful enemies of the United States, and a frustration because Iraqis don't have the ability to take up conventional arms as our forefathers did. Therefore, they engage in terrorist car bombings and RPG assaults.

Consider the friendly British occupation of Boston in 1768. Boston's Sons of Liberty engaged in what today would be called "terrorism" to protest this benevolent occupation by an army from across the ocean. While the Iraqis who are committing terrorist assaults are not seeking the ordered liberty sought by our founding fathers, they are seeking the independence of their country from a foreign occupier.

President Bush is still keeping up appearances, denying in his disastrous national press conference on April 14 that Iraqis oppose the U.S. occupation. "It's not a civil war," Bush said, "it's not a popular uprising. Most of Iraq is relatively stable. Most Iraqis, by far, reject violence and oppose dictatorship." Oops. A poll of Iraqis released last week revealed just the opposite, that the British occupation of Boston may have actually been more popular than our occupation of Iraq. A majority – 52 percent – of Iraqis said terrorism against Americans could be justified and 71 percent viewed American troops as "occupiers."

When I wrote my first column for Antiwar.com in March 2003, those of us who opposed the unprovoked invasion of Iraq were hard-pressed to maintain we supported American soldiers. A few people called us traitors, but we simply wanted to keep our soldiers home and safe from an unnecessary war. Now, as American military casualties mount, those who seek to maintain our forces in Iraq are the ones who have the difficult task of maintaining they "support the troops." They are the ones putting our soldiers into harm's way for reasons unrelated to our national security. They are the ones throwing away the lives of our soldiers.

Let's get out of Iraq now. They live there. We don't.

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Thomas R. Eddlem's Bio

Thomas R. Eddlem is a native of the Boston area of Massachusetts and a graduate of Stonehill College. He is a radio talk show host in southeastern Massachusetts and a frequent contributor to The New American magazine.

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