Independence from Texas to Iraq (July 4, 2006)
July 4th is a time of celebrating
American independence and our participation
in a country that is a beacon of liberty and
freedom to the world. By the stroke of pen,
Liberty was born and the United States announced
to the world that it was a free nation. Through
acts of selflessness and courage, freedoms have
been achieved and expanded during the past 230
Today citizens and non-citizens
alike one more in Texas, as throughout the U.S.,
will commemorate the inalienable rights of "life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Families will cook hamburgers
and fajitas, in backyards and parks. Crowds
will flock to favorite beaches, watering-holes,
and East Texas pines. Politicians will opine
of the "sacrifices of our brave men and
women in uniform". Fireworks will illumine
the night sky.
This will all take place in a
country where people of differing races, faiths,
and political viewpoints live side by side in
relative peace and prosperity.
But in Iraq, real bombs will be
bursting in the air; the blessing of liberty
not yet achieved.
Iraqi parents, like us, work to
instill in their children basic values that
should sound familiar to Texans: freedom, opportunity,
security, and responsibility. But they find
their country torn apart by warring forces and
occupied by foreigners who refuse to leave.
"Things are bad, very bad,"
said one friend recently in Baghdad. "There
is a curfew now, nobody leaves their houses
after 7 or 8pm. There is nothing we can do."
"The dead are just numbers now....14 bodies
here, 20 bodies there, another 16 here."
He stated that as bad as things were during
the years of U.N. sanctions, violence and unemployment
have increased and infrastructure deteriorated
faster during the past three years.
Another English-speaking friend
wrote, "I've been listening to debate -
mostly from pro-war politicians - and the naïveté
they reveal is astounding. As long as foreign
troops are in Iraq, resistance or 'insurgency'
will continue. Why is that SO difficult to understand?
How is that concept a foreign one?"
The framers of the U.S. Declaration
of Independence were men and women of integrity
willing to suffer all for freedom. They lived
in relative security but valued liberty more
as they fought to rid their land of a despotic
ruler with the world's greatest military at
Two hundred years later the table
has turned. In 2006 America is burning towns
and destroying the lives of civilians, depriving
people of trial by jury, exempting troops from
murder, and plundering the treasury of another
people. Other malignant foreign forces set bombs
and rain mortars down on unsuspecting residents,
but their numbers are small compared to the
128,000 GIs stationed there. Citizens on both
sides of the world - parents, teachers, religious
and business leaders - watch in chagrin as the
blood of the nations' youth are squandered on
a senseless and immoral war.
Americans are faced with a dilemma.
On one hand, supporters of U.S. military intervention
argue that we cannot withdraw until the security
situation is stable. On the other, violence
increases every month that we remain. War apologists
like to use the phrase "cut-and-run"
to denigrate those who call for withdrawal,
but wiser heads know when to "fold'em"
and walk away.
During the past three years, more
than 20,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed or
injured in Iraq; estimates of Iraqi dead and
injured range from 50,000 to more than 100,000.
While President Bush calls such sacrifices "noble"
the White House still does not have clear objectives
and will not say when the war might end.
Instead of preserving our Constitution,
GIs find themselves writing one for Iraq. Old
Glory languishes while troops are sent to protect
a flag of red, white, and black with green Arabic
Iraqis demand freedom, on their
terms not ours.
A January 2006 poll by the Center
for International Studies at Maryland found
that 70% of Iraqis - of all religious and ethnic
groups - favor setting a timeline for U.S. withdrawal,
35% "within six months". Last week,
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presented
a plan that called for a timetable for withdrawal
of U.S. forces.
It's time for the U.S. to give
Iraq its independence and to let Iraqis build
a nation of their own. If we believe in Democracy,
we must begin our exodus from Iraq and end this
Freedom and liberty demand it!
Jackson, is a sixth-generation Texas bid'nessman
and founder of Texans for Peace www.texansforpeace.org