I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t think ‘non-binding resolutions’ or ‘sense of the Congress’ expressions are going to get us out of Iraq; neither does Salon commentator Gary Kamiya, who asks “Where is The Outrage?”
Kamiya is profoundly skeptical about the Democrats ever cutting off funds for the war--- still spooked by the Conservatives’ strategy of tying the ‘soft on security’ can to their tails. A real anti-war movement, a thunderous presence in the streets, would support the radical move of cutting funds, but no such anti-war movement exists.
Although disapproval of Bush’s mismanagement of the war is huge there is really no outrage at the suffering that war has caused. After all, there have ‘only’ been 3000 deaths and for no one is the suffering of the thousands of wounded a reality. When even the dead are just numbers, the wounded become only medical statistics.
Kamiya writes: “The fact is, except for that comparatively small number of Americans who have fought there, Iraq is just a name on a map. The deaths there, too, are unreal. And if by chance their reality becomes undeniable, they happen to other people.”
” American casualties have remained discreetly hidden from view. (To say nothing of the horrendous numbers of Iraqis who have been killed as the result of the war, which the U.S. government has callously avoided tallying.) The Bush administration has tried to keep the dead and wounded out of sight, and the media, cowed by "taste" rules and patriotism, has mostly played along. The result is an abstract war, a play war, a dream war.”
During World War One it was the war poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and (after the war) novelist Erich Maria Remarque, who raised our consciousness of the horror, making it explicit and terrible.
Iraq has produced a soldier poet of extraordinary talent, Brian Turner. Kamiya quotes him in the Salon article. It will break your heart.
In a poem titled "2000 lbs," Turner opens with a description of a suicide bomber in Mosul's Ashur Square, who is watching in his rearview mirror for a convoy. He writes of two men, an Iraqi taxi driver named Sefwan and an American Guardsman named Sgt. Ledouix, who are also in Ashur Square.
A flight of gold, that's what Sefwan thinks
as he lights a Miami, draws in the smoke
and waits in his taxi at the traffic circle.
He thinks of summer 1974, lifting
pitchforks of grain high in the air,
the slow drift of it like the fall of Shatha's hair,
and although it was decades ago, he still loves her,
remembers her standing at the canebrake
where the buffalo cooled shoulder-deep in the water,
pleased with the orange cups of flowers he brought her,
and he regrets how much can go wrong in a life,
how easily the years slip by, light as grain, bright
as the street's concussion of metal, shrapnel
traveling at the speed of sound to open him up
in blood and shock, a man whose last thoughts
are of love and wreckage, with no one there
to whisper him gone.
Sgt. Ledouix of the National Guard
speaks but cannot hear the words coming out,
and it's just as well his eardrums ruptured
because it lends the world a certain calm,
though the traffic circle is filled with people
running in panic, their legs a blur
like horses in a carousel, turning
and turning the way the tires spin
on the Humvee flipped to its side,
the gunner's hatch he was thrown from
a mystery to him now, a dark hole
in metal the color of sand, and if he could,
he would crawl back inside of it,
and though his fingertips scratch at the asphalt
he hasn't the strength to move:
shrapnel has torn into his ribcage
and he will bleed to death in minutes,
but he finds himself surrounded by a strange
beauty, the shine of light on the broken,
a woman's hand touching his face, tenderly
the way his wife might, amazed to find
a wedding ring on his crushed hand,
the bright gold sinking in flesh
going to bone.
The poem appears in a collection of Turner's poetry titled, 'Here, Bullet'
Read more about Turner here.