Leaving a haunting legacy

With the dawning awareness that, in many ways, the president and his team are incompetent nincompoops when it comes to foreign policy, it’s easier to comprehend just how badly their efforts have fared in Iraq, currently a political and economic wasteland after several years of U.S. war and occupation.

A recent editorial by an Iraqi journalist at azzaman.com/english describes certain aspects of that country’s present calamitous situation since the widely noted elections some three months ago.

Fatih Abdulsalam writes that in the past few weeks “several cities, including Qaim, Tel Affar, Haqlaniya and Samarra, were attacked with massive military force” and “U.S. troops have turned these entire cities into jails and detention centers.” Of course, this is news to most Americans.

Furthermore, this Iraqi correspondent observes that U.S. troops have “drained these cities’ resources to the extent that the inhabitants no longer have access to the minimum conditions acceptable for a human being. Tens of thousands of families have lost loved ones, and they have no redress for their tragedy.”

According to this account, similar to others, “Iraqis have less access to food, clean water and health care than at anytime before. Whole cities live under strict curfews that may extend for more than 12 hours a day.”

This is the “free Iraq” so often referred to by Bush acolytes. The fact is conditions in Iraq are even worse than before Saddam was ousted. And the war has already been lost in many critical ways, not least of which is that our nation’s honor has been besmirched, our treasury bankrupted and our military prestige badly damaged. The human toll alone will haunt us for generations.

Cord MacGuire
Boulder CO

Great job with real news

I am a graduating senior from the University at Buffalo, and I wanted to congratulate you on a great job. I truly enjoy reading your articles, as they “tell it how it is” and not too many newspapers are willing to do so in such a manner.

I especially enjoy the focus on Latin American news stories. I am Salvadorian and I was thoroughly surprised to read about the union leader who had been killed in El Salvador, as El Salvador is sometimes forgotten.

I, however, am writing in response to the book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins. It is truly fascinating — not for what it details, but how it is detailed. The fact that Mr. Perkins was actually in the midst of much of that activity makes the book even more intriguing.

Many times, I have been outraged by an article I have read in your weekly, but it is because of the stance of the current administration and the ever increasing anti-immigrant stance most citizens are taking. It is true, this administration is fueling the issue by utilizing the terrorist scare for its own purposes. I have seen it first-hand here on campus. Of most outrage to me is the “Real ID” question. If this law is not anti-immigrant in nature, then what is it?

Gerry J. Ruiz
Buffalo NY

Help Iraqi kids

Hundreds of Iraqi kids injured in the war need your help, not your money. I found this web site while I was trying to find info on radiation sickness from depleted uranium weapons and I urge you to visit and help this group. I plan to open a local chapter here in Atlanta. Rather than griping we can actually do something ourselves without depending on lip service from our congressman. Check it out: www.VeteranOrganDonors.org.

Did you realize 18,000 Iraqi civilians were killed and over 800 of them were kids? So much for “smart bombs.”

Vernon Jensen
Via e-mail

Don’t raise retirement age

Back in the late 1970s my mother received Social Security disability benefits while she struggled with cancer. My youngest brother was in school at the local community college and he received benefits too on her account to help pay for his education. When Mom died he received survivor benefits while in school. Mom grew up during the “Great Depression” and worked in an airplane factory during World War II.

After the end of the war my parents married and raised a large family. As we kids grew up, Mom worked part-time outside the home to help with the family budget. Although her earnings weren’t high, she was able to receive the help of Social Security disability benefits, as did my brother.

My dad was a factory worker in the auto industry. He’d been in the Navy in World War II, a Pearl Harbor survivor. He worked hard all his life and took early retirement at age 62. He died just after his 68th birthday, so he had a few years that weren’t so backbreakingly hard. When I hear a proposal to raise the base retirement age even higher than it already is, I want to scream, “Unfair!”

If there is concern over the future of Social Security, then we need more jobs at a living wage and we should raise the cap for people who are very highly paid. But don’t flush our present and future down the stock market toilet!

Barbara Carpenter
Chicago IL

What about here at home?

Speaking in Latvia on the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII, George W. Bush lectured Russia and Vladimir Putin, saying, “The promise of democracy is fulfilled by minority rights, and equal justice under the rule of law, and an inclusive society in which every person belongs.”

Mr. President, you support amending the U.S. and state constitutions to deprive a minority — gay people — of a right the majority takes for granted and sees as fundamental, namely marriage. You oppose giving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans equal protections under the law from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Your administration has relentlessly sought to exclude even the words “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual” and “transgender” from any federal funding initiative.

So, the question is: If minority rights, equal justice under the law, and inclusive society are good for the Baltics and Russia, why not here at home?

Matt Foreman
Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Looking for Hawaii info

For a forthcoming book on the Communist Party in Hawaii (and the region) before statehood, I would appreciate hearing from any person with memories, documents, reflections or the like.

Gerald Horne