President Bush has called for 21,000 more American troops to win the Battle of Baghdad. Bush stated this escalation will also call for increased sacrifice. So far, in a war that has lasted four years, only our military men and women and their families have done any sacrificing.
Companies with no-bid, cost-plus contracts have not sacrificed. Private security companies that employ 25,000 mercenaries in Iraq have not sacrificed. Big Oil has not sacrificed. Wall Street bankers and CEOs have not sacrificed. I have not sacrificed.
We know the addition of 21,000 troops will increase the cost of the most expensive war in our history. What we do not know is how we will pay for it. The last three Congresses approved the president's every request with little or no oversight. There are reports of billions of dollars missing and unaccounted for in Iraq. Last year, Congressman Duncan Hunter attempted to kill the audit in Iraq that was revealing these facts. Hunter was the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and had failed to provide the leadership to protect our troops and the American taxpayer.
So, what kinds of sacrifice does the president have in mind? I suggest a rollback of the tax cuts for Big Oil and those in the top 2 percent income level. While we're at it, let's add a tax on CEO golden parachutes and Wall Street bonuses. Let's collect some of the billions in royalties that Big Oil has failed to pay the government for the last few years and do an overhaul of the way contracts are awarded to companies doing business with the people's government.
Finally, Americans need to insist that other countries in the "Coalition of the Willing" pony up and help with this huge burden. The president's father was able to do this in the first Gulf war. If this truly is a global war on terror, it's past time for others to support it.
On the Wall
In regards to Mayor Herenton being "on the wall" (Editor's Note, January 11th issue), I have a few comments. It's interesting that Herenton quotes the Bible to justify his development projects (such as a football stadium) as being ordained by God. Church and state institutions were distinct in the Bible.
The role of the state is that of a necessary evil. Its only function is to protect life and property, according to many legal, historical, and constitutional commentaries. This makes sense, as we all need physical protection of our lives and property. (Try not paying property taxes and see who is the "real" owner.) We don't all need to go downtown to Beale Street or to a football game. Why didn't Herenton quote the parts of the Bible where God judged men who extended their civil jurisdiction into the functions of the church -- i.e., King Uzziah, who offered incense and was cursed with leprosy, or King Ahab and Jezebel, who took away property from a private family and were killed?
Marty Aussenberg's Viewpoint ("Behold, the Rabbit!," December 21st issue) is one of the most muddle-headed and nonsensical pieces to ever appear in the Flyer.
Aussenberg points out the obvious fact that the Holocaust-denial conference in Iran was intended to taunt the West and Israel and inflame anti-Semitism. Then he reassures us that the Holocaust did indeed happen. After these original insights, he makes a strange leap: He chides the Iranians for a "fundamental misunderstanding" of the "guarantee of free speech."
I'm quite sure the Iranians do misunderstand the First Amendment, but it makes little sense to mention it in this context; America has no laws against Holocaust denial. How were they testing "our tolerance" by holding the conference in their country? Holocaust deniers have held conferences in America for nearly 30 years. If Aussenberg is calling for laws against Holocaust denial, he's the one who doesn't understand the First Amendment.
I agree with Hugo Black: "No law means no law." Free speech is an empty phrase unless it applies to speech we find utterly offensive. Free speech within certain bounds or only for our political allies is not free speech. Many European countries have laws that put people in jail for reading revisionist material or speaking about this topic. This is an absolute embarassment to what still passes for "Western civilization." I hope we never adopt anything like that here, and I would hope that Aussenberg would not advocate such laws.
John E. Cox