By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
March 24, 2003
This is how it begins. The grandiose ideas of cakewalk become the task riddled with bullets and loss of precious lives. Young men and women who are following the orders of their superiors give lives.
Bombarded Baghdad is burning. Abraham whom all the three major monotheistic religions of our time believe as their patriarch or prophet, his supposed birth place the ancient city Ur in modern Iraq is seeing wars of misguided descendents, the destruction and bloodied body littered in the desert and dishonorably shown by warring parties to further their propaganda, perhaps are the reminder what this war really means. Perhaps it may expose the futile fervor of war’s rage and brutality.
Shocked and awed are the world as are the Iraqi civilians and children lying in hospital bed with bloody bandage, listening the booming blasts from the on going destruction of their livelihood. In Iraqi morgues, piles of dead bodies, male, female, babies, without name, without face, are awaiting patiently for decent burials. In Nasiriya, they showed the bodies of American soldiers killed in action or brutally executed by single bullet piercing the forehead, tearing away the Geneva Convention sacred for the prisoners of war; male, female, without name, without face, are awaiting patiently for polite burials as well.
American and Iraqi dead bodies, soldiers or civilians, cold bodies, away from all of our ferocious destructive activities. They won’t be part of a productive life anymore. Their aggrieved families, oceans away or just in the nearby bombarded cities, shocked and awed by the severity of their losses and perhaps one or two or more agitating curses rustle toward the bandits and equally horrendous leadership.
Leaders and charlatans politicize the war with life of soldiers and civilians alike. American soldiers, Iraqi soldiers, British soldiers, Australian soldiers. In a normal atmosphere when the automatic machine guns and Kalashnikovs are not churning and overhead million bucks missiles and fighter jets are not swishing by with killer ferocity, they might have participated in cultural exchange programs, or a friendly soccer game, perhaps, in peaceful time, they might have become best buddies with exchange of corny jokes. But the profit seeking goals of invisibles in the West and Babylonian dictator’s unmistakable hymns didn’t let that reality to prosper. As if there were no viable alternatives. As if these precious lives had to be lost in peril.
In the corners of Euphrates and Guadalupe, Iraqi or American mothers’ tears remind the grotesque banality of war and the dreams those were evaporated from soldiers’ or civilians deadened eyes.
Now the vengeance mood will soar. Leaders and dictators will use deaths of soldiers and civilians and children to galvanize their populace and armed men and women. This is the lesson from history. The same trick was played endless time by the invaders and dictators of antiquity. And this is the fuel they were waiting for to further their narrow causes.
War is personal, says Bob Herbert in New York Times. Yes it is. “Wars are planned and championed by the folks who stroll the corridors of power. But they are fought by ordinary men and women and their families, who have to watch their budgets closely, and tend to all their daily duties, while hoping against hope that no one really close to them gets lost in the madness.”  And still the “elected” leadership could not prevent the unnecessary loss of lives.
Why is so much opposition to this war throughout the world? Everyday, millions of people are rocking the streets of America, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Egypt, Chile, Mexico and many other nations. Why are so many agitations against this war? Eugene Debs, who was an American labor leader, gave a speech in Canton, Ohio on June 16, 1918 way back in the era of First World War and his speech provides a succinct answer to this question of our time. He said, “Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. ...the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish their corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace."
The ordinary soldiers or marines in American, British or Iraqi defenses do not have any say declaring the war or making peace. But they are the ones who sacrifice their lives to glorify their privileged leaders in fortified places. Eugene Deb also flushes out the obnoxious wartime hyperbole of fictitious “patriotic duty” that these covetous leaders use to galvanize their troops. “They are continually talking about their patriotic duty. It is not their but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches." It is the ordinary soldiers who go to the firing line, duck their heads into the trenches facing the enemy bombardments and crackling machine guns. And the leaders stay away in the comforting corner of exuberant ease among his loved ones and war cabinets in deeply dug bunkers or modernized room of picturesque marvel, making more destructive decisions that take away lives of civilians along with sacrificing fellow soldiers for the purpose of their grandiose schemes.
Here the night is humming by in peaceful ticking of clock. And there in the inferno of Baghdad, Basra, Najaf, and many other unknown cities and country sides of Iraq, another gruesome day of air raid sirens wailing through the calls for prayers, thousands of bombing sorties in the sky, with approaching tanks and artillery barrages thundering every bricks and streets while the injured are groaning in the glooming corner of Iraqi hospital, father is telling an innocent child mesmerizing fable to make him forget the destruction outside of his window, mother is rummaging through the scanty food in the rattling table, and the American and Iraqi soldiers in desert advancing or waiting in shadow, engaging in battle with the opposing forces and still dreaming for a peaceful future ducking inside the makeshift trench when the time comes for a nap.
1. Bob Herbert, “War is Personal”, New York Times, March 24, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/24/opinion/24HERB.html
2. Charles Levendosky, “Nation born of dissent must not deny heritage”, Casper Star Tribune, July 20, 2001
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) is a freelance writer. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.