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Published November 14 2010

Ross: Patriotic blather spills blood

What do you think former President George W. Bush in his new memoir, “Decision Points,” claimed was “the all-time low” of his presidency? Not finding those elusive weapons of mass destruction? Waging war on Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11? Perhaps the dawning realization that his war created tens of thousands of American casualties, at least 10 times that number of Iraqis, and millions of refugees, all for a lie (or “mistaken” intelligence)?

Oh dear, no. What really rankled Bush was Kanye West’s accusation that he was a racist. Talk about a low blow. And now members of the military have an idea of what Bush thinks of them and their suffering for his war. Their deaths, and the broken minds and bodies of many of those who have returned, rank somewhere below Bush’s feelings getting hurt by a buffoonish pop entertainer.

’Twas ever thus. Soldiers are the pawns of the powerful, and their loss means little to our leaders. Does anyone think that Bush, or Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, rolling in his millions of dollars, has lost a minute’s sleep over the Americans killed (much less the Iraqis) in this and other dishonest wars?

We’re assaulted these days with such blather about patriotism and ridding the world of bad guys. Where exactly is the president authorized to spend our children’s blood and our money seeking foreign monsters to destroy, monsters who pose no threat to us? Congress has no more spine to stop the warmongering than the Roman Senate did the Caesars; America has fought but two defensive wars in the past 100 years, and even those exceptions must be heavily qualified. Since the GOP has joined the Democrats in forming the War Party, there is no major party for us to turn to in order to halt the nonstop wars.

It didn’t start with Bush, of course. Richard Nixon said he wouldn’t be the first president to lose a war. Too bad about all those GIs who had to die for his pride. But at least they died for their country, right? Former President Lyndon Johnson, who was equal parts lunatic and imbecile, said he felt bad for all the men he sent to their graves in Vietnam but claimed it was that or World War III. Oddly enough, we lost the Vietnam War, but the world rolls on.

We’re told if we can’t revere the president, then we should revere the office. Why? This automatic subservience is not only shameful for Americans to adopt, but a one-way ticket to executive abuses of our lives and fortunes, and a contraction of our liberties and rights. Servicemen are told they’re helping the countries they bomb, but they’re not, and America’s security worsens.

To Americans I say: Go ahead and offer your children to the gods of needless war. The gods won’t appreciate your sacrifices, but they’ll be glad for the fresh blood anyway.

Nelson is a Fargo postal worker and regular contributor to The Forum’s commentary page.