By Ludwig Watzal
13 November, 2014
US President George W. Bush and his Vice president Dick Cheney are responsible for the death of 4 488 American soldiers who were sent into an illegal war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Both politicians belong before a military court and put behind bars forever. Two days after these attacks, Tomas Young joined the army in order to “strike back” against the terrorists. He was led astray like thousands of others of his comrades by Bush and his neoconservative gang in their so-called “war on terror”. On March 18, 2013 , he wrote a letter to both of them and accused them of “egregious war crimes”.
On the eve of Veterans Day 2014, Young died as a result of his injuries he had suffered in Iraq after his fifth day of assignment. He did not join the army to attack Iraq or “liberate” the Iraqi people. Due to his severe ailment, his video message (1) is difficult to understand, that is why, Young’s deeply moving message to these political perpetrators is reprinted.
“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.
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.
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.”
Even this last wish of tomas Young will not come true, because politicians have no character. For a European, the US justice system seems to be lousy. Colored people are incarcerated by the thousands, while the white criminals walk away freely and send the minorities into their wars. Young’s death and the death of the other 4 488 American soldiers should not be in vain. Justice must be done
Picture: Young and his wife Claudia
Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. Her runs the bilingual blog “between the lines.http://between-the-lines-ludwig-watzal.blogspot.de/
Tomas Young, Rest In Peace
By Amy Goodman
13 November, 2014
Tomas Young, who died earlier this week, was a fierce anti-war critic. (Photo: Philip Cheung/Getty Images)
There were 8,920,000 military veterans in the United States as of last June, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sometime last Sunday or Monday, hours before Veterans Day began, that number dropped by one, when Tomas Young died at home in Seattle, with his wife by his side. He was one of many soldiers who were sent to Iraq and were grievously injured there.
The public may know more about Tomas Young than about most veterans, thanks to the remarkable documentary “Body of War,” directed and produced by legendary talk-show host Phil Donahue and filmmaker Ellen Spiro. His journey, his struggle and now his death follow an arc along the tragic U.S. wars and occupations in this post-9/11 world.
Like so many, Tomas was inspired to join the military after Sept. 11. He was surprised to learn, though, that he would be deployed not to Afghanistan, but to Iraq. On April 4, 2004, five days after Tomas arrived in Baghdad, he was shot in the spine, paralyzing him from the chest down. The injury rendered him a paraplegic, causing a cascade of additional complications. His breathing was labored. His body’s capacity to regulate temperature was impaired, occasionally requiring that he wear an ice-pack vest. Despite the enormous challenges, Tomas summoned tremendous strength and embarked on a path of antiwar activism.
During the summer of 2005, he joined the grieving mother-turned-peace-activist Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey, the protest camp in Crawford, Texas, not far from the ranch of then-President George W. Bush. Cindy named the encampment after her dead son, Casey, killed on the same day in the same city—Sadr City—where Tomas was shot. Cindy Sheehan stood in protest outside Bush’s retreat while he vacationed there, and the protest grew and grew. Tomas joined Iraq Veterans Against the War, and served on its board of directors.
In 2008, I spoke with Tomas. He directed a comment to then-Vice President Dick Cheney: “From one of those soldiers who volunteered to go to Afghanistan after Sept. 11, which was where the evidence said we needed to go, to [Cheney], the master of the college deferment in Vietnam: Many of us volunteered with patriotic feelings in our heart, only to see them subverted and bastardized by the administration and sent into the wrong country.”
“Body of War” depicts the personal cost of war. In one of the most moving scenes in the film, Young meets Sen. Robert Byrd, the longest-serving senator, with the most votes cast in Senate history (more than 18,000). Byrd said his “no” vote on the Iraq war resolution was the most important of his life. Young helps him read the names of the 23 senators who voted against the war resolution. Byrd reflects: “The immortal 23. Our founders would be so proud.” Turning to Young, he says: “Thank you for your service. Man, you’ve made a great sacrifice. You served your country well.” Young replies, “As have you, sir.”
The release of “Body of War” propelled Tomas into the limelight, as the country became embroiled in the hot summer and the 2008 presidential elections. It was then that a blood clot lodged in his arm, causing severe complications. He lost most of the use of his arms, and suffered diminished ability to speak. He never lost his deep commitment to peace, or his hope that those responsible for the war would be held accountable.
In February 2013, appearing before an audience of “Body of War” in Litchfield, Conn., via video stream, he shocked the audience by telling them that he intended to end his own life by stopping eating.
He was still in his hometown of Kansas City, Mo., with his wife, Claudia Cuellar. Tomas was battling extreme, chronic pain, and as Claudia told us after his death, he found some relief from marijuana, which is illegal in Kansas and Missouri. So they moved to Oregon, where medical marijuana is legal. Unfortunately, Claudia felt the Veterans Affairs hospital in Portland did not support his use of marijuana, and punitively reduced his prescription pain medications in response. Seeking a safe, compassionate place for Tomas, they moved to Seattle, another place with legal medical (and now, recreational) marijuana. Tomas and Claudia felt the VA dragged its heels, leaving them to ration his pain pills.
It was in the midst of this ordeal that Claudia found Tomas, last Monday morning, lying in deep silence. He was dead.
Eighteen months earlier, he had written an open letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. He ended the letter: “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.”
May Tomas Young, who fought so hard for peace in life, now rest in peace.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 1,100 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.
© 2014 Amy Goodman