Looking back on seven years in Iraq
By Gladys Tiffany
On March 19 we passed the seven-year anniversary of the war in Iraq. In some cities there were protest marches, but not in Fayetteville. We’ve learned in the past seven years, that street protests are less effective in a corporatocracy than in a democracy.
What’s the point of protesting government actions, when the decisions are made by the shadowy CEOs behind the curtain? Working with governments still has value, but only when economic power imbalance is considered.
Over the past seven years, we Americans have learned a lot about ourselves. On Sept. 12, 2001, we still thought we were the nice guys who modeled freedom and democracy for the world. We didn’t understand entirely why people in some countries thought we were “the ugly Americans.” Since then, Americans who were willing to look honestly at the world have realized that we haven’t been as nice as we thought. Some things have been done in our name that have given a bad image to both “freedom” and “democracy” in ways that give us shame.
So deeply entrenched is the power of the great corporations, that even under a president who’s campaign goal included reversing many of the excesses of the previous administration, the supreme court could force a ruling that gives corporations even more power over elections. Corporations are not bad in themselves. But they have no feelings; no health problems; no need for time off. They have only one mission: profit; and they pay people well to help them accomplish it. But they’re not human. A system that favors corporations over humans to the radical extent ours does is anti-human.
It’s incapable of considering whether invading Iraq might be disruptive and deadly to Iraq’s people or the soldiers sent to occupy it.
After the first year of the war, I researched the cost of war to businesses in hopes of educating companies about the hidden impacts.
The costs were there, but they were hidden among literally thousands of pages of corporations drooling — slathering at the mouth really — over how much money some businesses were going to make on the war. It was a feeding frenzy that turned the stomach.
After seven years we still occupy our fortress embassy in Baghdad. Iraqis are caught up in their current election, and we’re thinking about withdrawing. But the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi families and American soldiers whose lives and bodies have been damaged, are with us still, moving into that realm of inconvenient truth that won’t be quiet and disappear.
The impact of war is something we feel all around us. To pay for war, our bridges crumble, our schools languish, we and our neighbors feel pressure to support the war and let our children go off to fight in it. Sometimes they come back bruised and sometimes they don’t come back. Sometimes the bruises are invisible.
War is not an answer to the problems of human beings. War is an answer to profit problems for a few powerful corporations. It’s time for Americans to get smart about what’s happened to our democracy. Do we want it or not? Do we want to send our children to foreign lands as colonizers for our corporations? It’s less then a noble ideal, and deeply un-American. I’m praying that the seventh year is the final year of this war, and the war in Afghanistan, too, because there are noble ideals for Americans to support.
Gladys Tiffany is a member of the Omni Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology in Fayetteville.