Bloody quagmire

The June “handover of power” to an interim Iraqi government has not stopped the bloodshed. The count of U.S. soldiers killed in George W. Bush’s Iraq debacle is heading toward the 1,000 mark. Bush doesn’t want us to see their coffins coming home. He also wants to keep hidden the wounded and traumatized soldiers at Walter Reed and other military hospitals.

Some 13,000 Iraqi men, women and children have been killed and thousands more maimed since Bush launched this reckless war 17 months ago. Iraqi homes, neighborhoods and livelihoods have been destroyed. The continued aggressive U.S. military presence is fueling anger and resentment.

Instead of bringing democracy, freedom and stability, as claimed by Bush, Cheney & Co., the U.S. military/corporate invasion has destabilized and devastated Iraq, and fanned the flames of fundamentalism and terrorism.

The discredited “coalition provisional authority” has given way to a new U.S. embassy in Baghdad headed by Ambassador John Negroponte. In the 1980s, Negroponte was a key player in the Reagan administration’s covert operations to crush the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

The new embassy has a staff of 1,000. We can be sure they are not out laying brick to repair schools shattered by U.S. bombs and tanks. Nor are they cleaning up the sewage running in the streets or stringing electric lines to get the lights back on. And we know they’re not nursing the sick and injured Iraqis victimized by the endless violence the invasion and occupation has unleashed.

Bush’s Iraq policy has been driven by ultra-right, “neo-con” retreads from the Reagan and Bush I administrations. Their Iraq record involves decades of secret wheelings and dealings, working hand in glove with mercenaries and oily corporate profiteers like Dick Cheney’s Halliburton. Iraq is being destroyed and our soldiers’ lives, our communities, and our very security are being sacrificed for their crazed schemes of global control.

The only way to bring peace to Iraq is to get U.S. military/corporate/covert operations out. Enough is enough.

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These numbers count

Something’s stirring. The explosive growth of the crowd size at the Kerry-Edwards rallies is becoming a bigger story than the candidates themselves: Twenty-five thousand in Harrisburg, Penn., on July 31; 15,000 in Milwaukee on Aug. 2; 23,000 in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Aug. 3; and on Aug. 9, 10,000 in the Arizona town of Flagstaff (population 50,000).

These hundreds of thousands of Americans are not just coming out to see and hear Kerry and Edwards. They are coming out to be heard. Suddenly working-class Americans — desperate over bread and butter issues like jobs, overtime pay, education, war and peace — see the real possibility for positive change.

Not surprisingly, the momentum represented by these rank-and-file numbers is not being widely reported in the corporate press. The corporate media give little attention to the everyday crises faced by the millions of out-of-work, out-of-pension, out-of-insurance, out-of-options American families, while lavishing attention on the tiniest minutia about the candidates.

Keep your eyes open for the real story unfolding Sept. 2, the opening night of the GOP convention. It’s likely to be a hot, sticky summer night across the land, but 25,000 union members will be marking the event that Tuesday evening by leaving the cool comfort of their living rooms, even after a hard day’s work, to climb their neighbors’ porch steps and knock on their screen doors registering voters and giving out information. Work-to-worker, neighbor-to-neighbor, they will be laying out the stark differences the two candidates’ programs will make in the lives of Americas people for years to come.

While record millions are being spent this season on television ads and campaign paraphernalia, in 2004 it’s the millions on the street who are making the difference and making history.