The Last Letter

MILITARISM, ANGLO AMERICA, JUSTICE, SPECIAL FEATURE, 25 Mar 2013

Tomas Young - Truthdig

A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a Dying Veteran

tomas-young

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

To read Chris Hedges’ interview with Tomas Young, click here.

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One Response to “The Last Letter”

  1. satoshi says:

    Did Tomas Young read the article on Halliburton’s profit through the Iraq War? Or at least, he knows about the Iraq War profiteers’ profit, including that of Halliburton, fairly well. (http://www.transcend.org/tms/2013/03/chenneys-halliburton-received-39-5-billion-in-iraq-war-contracts-over-the-past-decade/comment-page-1/#comment-27638 )

    Tomas Young says, “I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to ‘liberate’ Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called ‘democracy’ in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war.”

    Then, why did he accept to go to “Iraq”? By officially resigning from the Army, he could refuse that mission to fight in Iraq when he received that order. Was it impossible for him to do so at that time?

    He also says, “I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love.”

    As to 9/11, it has been becoming clear over the years that the 9/11 attack was a spectacular political show that some American political leaders prepared to create an excuse to start the “war on terror” in order to control American citizens overall primarily (by violating their fundamental human rights) and then the rest of the world ultimately? How about Guantanamo, for instance? Many of the prisoners there have not been given an opportunity to appeal their case to the legal court. It is because the US authorities know that they do not have substantial evidence to prove that these prisoners are guilty. Probably, many of these inmates, if not all, were presumed innocent, were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, one of the fundamental legal principles is that the person is presumed innocent until proved guilty. If Tomas Young fought in Afghanistan, would he agree with the way his authorities treat those so-called prisoners in Guantanamo, for instance? Is Tomas Young fully aware of all that by now?

    I hope that he will change his mind to live more. I hope that he will live more as long as his health condition will allow him. It might not be too late for him to write (or to publish the letter on the website even if the letter is prepared well in advance) the last letter after living as long as possible.

    Dear Tomas Young,

    Wait, Tomas. You are one of the very important witnesses of the Iraq War. I believe that you have the moral obligation to witness what and how your country and your leaders will be and will do from now on. Your Last Letter to your leaders this time should be considered as your First Letter to them. Work for your own peace, work for your fellow Americans, and work for the rest of the peoples in the world. How? Keep on living. What does it mean? In your case, that you are keeping on living your life means that you are working for peace. The fact you are living your life constitutes the vital part of your work for peace. Your living is something; more than something. Your existence is something; more than something. Your presence is something; more than something.

    Furthermore, life is full of odd and strange things and events. For instance, you never know that one day you might have an opportunity to meet your leaders – your letter’s addressees. Who knows, one day? What would you tell them, then? You never know that one day you might have an opportunity to meet the Iraqi who shot you. What would you tell him, then? Who knows, one day? (Remember that John Paul II met the Turkish man who had shot him.) You never know that one day you might have an opportunity to meet a Taliban Afghan, telling you that it was your political leaders who created the 9/11 events and that it was they, therefore, who killed some 3,000 people? He, then, might explain to you in detail about how the 9/11 tragedies were created by your political leaders and how you common Americans were easily manipulated to believe the incredibly disgusting political deception. Taliban may be an enemy of the democracy in Afghanistan but may not be an enemy of the United States at all. He might tell you that Taliban had nothing to do with “9/11”. What would you tell him, then? Who knows, in addition, one day you might meet an Al-Qaeda man who might tell you the same thing as the Taliban man might tell you? I have no idea of how much you are aware of the background of 9/11. Al-Qaeda may have done other things but they may have had nothing to do with 9/11. What would you tell him, then?

    You never know what might happen to your life even one year from now, three years from now, for instance. What if Taliban would prove successfully their innocence, regarding 9/11, at the International Criminal Court (ICC)? What if Al-Qaeda would do the same thing at the ICC? What if your political leaders would fail to prove their innocence at the ICC? The United States is not a State Party to the ICC Statute of Rome so that your political leaders will not be taken to the ICC. However, imagine that they would be at the ICC Court. How would they prove their innocence, then? By another series of lies? And until when will those American leaders be able to evade international justice – the charge of the crimes against humanity? You might be able to see the development of history about it if you will live longer. Look at the sudden end of the Cold War Era. Look at the sudden resignation of the Pope Benedict XVI. You never know what will happen suddenly to the world, to the United States, and to your life. So, live more, Tomas. You can die anytime later, but live, first of all.

    One day, you might know all the truth(s) about what happened to your life over the years. However, it takes time. So, keep on living, Tomas. Keep on working for peace by living your life. In that sense, your work for peace has only just begun.

    Yours sincerely,

    Satoshi