…don’t ask President George W. Bush. Ask journalist Aaron Glanz, who saw things happening

The question “Why was Sheehan killed?” is getting too tough for President George W. Bush to answer. Even though Mr Bush was never very good at academics, he should have been able to answer this simple question. So far he has avoided a straight answer.

Casey Sheehan was a young US army officer who was killed in the totally unjustified campaign against the supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Casey Sheehan’s mother, the 48-year-old redoubtable activist Cindy Sheehan has since been asking President Bush and his administration as to why was her son killed in a war which has nothing to do with justice, or with America’s interests.

After all, no WMD (weapon of mass destruction) has been found in Iraq till date. America had invaded Iraq with the declared intent of taking away or destroying Saddam Hussein’s WMDs. But, no WMD has been found there, simply because there was no WMD in Iraq in the first place. If that was the case, then why were US troops sent there, including Casey Sheehan? His mother has every right to ask the obvious question as to why had her son to be killed if there was no WMD in Iraq.

The question today has become so shrill that more and more people are asking Mr Bush as to why were US troops sent to Iraq, and why had so many young Americans to die for something which did not have anything to do with American interests. His inability to answer the question straight has kicked down President Bush’s popularity rating to an all-time low, matching President Nixon’s at the time of his impeachment. A majority of Americans have said that the Iraq war was uncalled for and Mr Bush’s performance has been less than satisfactory.

Mr Bush’s supporters are organizing a counter-movement against Cindy Sheehan, whose support has swelled all over America. She had started with a vigil by three women (including herself) in a car outside the gate of Mr Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, where has gone on a five-week “working vacation”. The president did not think it fit to come out, meet the women and try to answer the simple question. That has brought a lot of people in support of Cindy Sheehan, which in turn has scared Bush supporters enough to start counter-mobilisation.

 The president’s side is sure that if the WMD falsehood has failed to work, the other falsehoods, which have already failed, can’t be revived to help Mr Bush. These other lies were that Saddam Hussein was a supporter of al-Qaeda and even some kind of a crypto-Islamist. Both charges turned out to be badly crafted lies. Former US Secretary of State Collin Powel had the temerity to claim it before an unbelieving United Nations.

 That leaves us with the nagging question, “why was Casey Sheehan killed?” Naturally, Mr Bush would evade a straight reply. The American media, by and large, are not interested in such an honest question. Even American journalists who saw everything happening in Iraq would not say why was Casey Sheehan killed. One reason is that they are “embedded” in the US army, that is, they are part of the US armed forces establishment. Hence they would not say anything the US armed forces don’t want them to say.

However, everybody reporting Iraq war was not an embedded journalist. Aaron Glanz was one such unembedded person reporting the US attack on al-Sadr’s supporters. Glanz says that after the devastation of Baghdad Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers were the only people who kept the roads clean, ran the essential services like hospitals and other amenities. The US administrator Paul Bremer did not like Muqtada al-Sadr, who was completely peaceful.

Out of the intrusiveness and jealousy of the US administration in Baghdad emerged the unjustified attack on al-Sadr’s men. Al-Sadr, whose father and grandfather were heroes and martyrs of the Islamic cause, enjoys great respect in Iraq. When the occupation forces attacked al-Sadr’s men they were hit back with as much force as al-Sadr’s men could muster. Casey Sheehan was killed in that totally unjust and uncalled for military action. The unembedded journalist Glanz witnessed all that and reported on why Sheehan was killed.

 President Bush will not admit that the decision to invade Iraq was morally untenable as well as a military miscalculation. Instead of repairing the damage by working out a reasonable withdrawal strategy and involvement of the UN as peacekeeper till a viable Iraqi government emerges, Mr Bush is talking of “staying the course” and “complete the job in Iraq”.

Instead of accepting that the war is going badly for America (1,860 soldiers killed; 13,000 wounded, many crippled for life), the administration is caught in a denial mode. In August itself 60 US soldiers were killed in Iraq reviving dreadful memories of Vietnam. The resistance has intensified progressively and steadily. At this point one also has to consider the suicides among US soldiers subjected to extraordinary psychological pressure of the war.

The only reasonable way for America would be to accept that the war in Iraq was a mistake.

Sheehan died because of a radically wrong Iraq policy followed by President Bush and his administration. Mr Bush will never answer the simple question of Cindy Sheehan. We will have to ask Aaron Glanz for a truthful answer.g


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