On Waking Up Sleepless in the Middle of the Night
By John Brown
TO: The President
FROM: A former American diplomat
SUBJECT: Waking up in the middle of the night
Mr. President: Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night?
Do you? Do you ever wake up sleepless in the middle of the
What have you done in Iraq? Do you ever realize, in the middle
of the night, what you've done? Do you?
1. You've caused over 2,370 American soldiers to die in an
impoverished land that never attacked us. Was that the right
answer to 9/11 or the "threat" from Iraq? Do you ever ask
yourself that question?
2. Because of your Iraq invasion, thousands of U.S. enlisted
personnel are maimed, physically and mentally, for life. What
can you tell these victims of your war? That you're honored by
their duty towards you, our "mission-accomplished"
3. Your decision to go to war has led to the death of tens of
thousands of innocent Iraqis. Do you have any remorse for this,
Mr. President? Or was it that, for you, Iraqis only really
deserved to serve as props in "shock and awe" -- your name for
your made-for-TV porno/violence program at the beginning of the
war, produced and distributed directly into our living rooms by
the mainstream media? (Thank you, Fox News.)
4. Will you ever, ever accept responsibility for making torture
all-American at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere? And the
Statue of Liberty -- why, tell us why, did you allow it to be
replaced by that image of an abused, hooded, helpless prisoner
on a box? Aren't you the least bit concerned at how America is
seen by the rest of the world because of your war -- as a brutal
aggressor nation, dismissive of the opinions of mankind?
5. What about your mercenaries ("Pentagon contractors") that our
tax dollars pay for? Who are they? What are they doing in their
multi-thousands in Iraq, and to the Iraqis? Do you know? Or
don't you care to know?
6. You said you wanted to "rebuild" Iraq -- but isn't it true
that all you've really done is construct a Roman-Empire-style
camp, a "Green Zone" for Iraqi collaborators (whom you now
mistrust) and U.S. personnel in the heart of Baghdad that is an
invitation to insurgent mortars? Haven't you -- tell the truth
-- destroyed in Iraq more than you have built? Haven't you?
7. You say Iraqis now live in a land of "freedom" -- but what
kind of freedom? How can it ever be like the Four Freedoms of
Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- freedom of expression and worship,
joined with freedom from want and freedom from fear? As
electricity fails and bombs terrify citizens in Baghdad, where
is the freedom you promised Iraqis, Mr. President?
8. Your occupation of Iraq has led to a bloody sectarian
conflict. Why do you and your ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad now
blame the Iraqis for their problems? Don't you share
responsibility for the desperate situation they are in?
9. Your trillion-dollar binge of destruction in the cradle of
civilization -- who will pay for it? The widows of our soldiers?
Our young people, already too debt-burdened paying for their
educations? Or their baby-boomer parents who may see their
pensions evaporate to support your war?
10. Why can't you truthfully tell us, Mr. President, the reasons
you led America into war? Was it for the WMD, for regime change,
for the oil, for grand neocon visions, to avenge your father, to
win elections at home? What were your real intentions? Are you
afraid to tell us? Or is the truth that, deep down, you never
11. And, Mr. President, as you contemplate another war, this
time against Iran, won't you ever wake up in the middle of the
night, and stop more madness before it is too late?
John Brown, who writes regularly for Tomdispatch and
Tompaine.com, is a former diplomat who resigned from the State
Department over the planned war in Iraq, compiles the Public
Diplomacy Press Review, available free upon request at the site.
Copyright 2006 John Brown
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