Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 211- Fallujah

Dear Mr. President,

Today I read something that I didn't want to know. I tried to put it away, hide it from myself so I wouldn't have to see it, but it doesn't change the truth. The legacy of our operations in Fallujah is an alarming increase in cancer, birth defects and infant mortality, as well as a decrease in the rate of male births. All of these effects were seen after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, though the study indicates that the rates of these afflictions in Fallujah has exceeded what was reported in survivors of the atomic bomb.

I don't know what kind of weapons we must have used to inflict this kind of lasting damage. I don't care. It was inexcusable. When people tell the story of the Bush presidency, this is one detail that I hope does not go overlooked. That these innocent people continue to suffer for their crime of proximity to those we called enemies is awful, and I hope that President Bush cannot sleep without seeing their faces. I hope that, when he one day holds his own grandchildren, he remembers the horrors he's inflicted on the grandchildren of so many Iraqis.

I have opposed our operations in Iraq since the beginning. I oppose them still, and in Afghanistan. But, for all the world knows, the weapons we used, the people we killed, all of it was done by a government of and by and for me and every other American. And, even though I never voted for President Bush and even though I never wanted my country to invade Iraq, I am responsible. Every single one of us who gave up and allowed the control of our country to go to men who would act so unethically and with such disregard for the lives of others. This is how the world will view us as long as the memory of this war lives on. The suffering we have inflicted on other people is a legacy that belongs to all Americans, and I am so ashamed of it, especially today. It will not be buried or hidden or ignored. This is our history, these are our crimes. The only thing we can do to make it better is work to ensure that it is a more moral and humane America that interacts with the world in the future. That we acknowledge our mistakes and apologize for them. That we never ask another American soldier to die or to kill unjustifiably.

Since starting this letter, a friend has pointed out to me several mitigating circumstances that might cast the results of this study into question. I want to acknowledge that, while my outrage comes from the facts I was presented with, it is not contingent upon this single study. I believe the evidence presented since our invasion demonstrates a clear and lingering effect of the US war on the health of the Iraqi people forced to endure it. How dramatic that effect might be does not change the stunning reality of how many lives have been lost , families displaced, and homes destroyed in the process of what was, fundamentally, an unjustified and immoral war. It shouldn't take a news cycle like this one to remind me of this appalling toll, but, since it has, I wanted to remind you in turn that the decisions you are making today will reflect on Americans for generations to come. I hope that, when you leave office, you leave behind years of an America that worked against this kind of destruction, that went to great pains to avoid such intolerable civillian suffering and body counts, and that your own nights have considerably fewer ghosts to haunt them.

Respectfully yours,


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