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Sunday, August 30, 2009

CHAPTER NINETY EIGHT. NEXT YEAR, LET’S CELEBRATE INTERDEPENDENCE DAY





Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Jul 5, 2010 2:54 PM PDT





This chapter is based on an editorial I submitted to a number of newspapers today. It is dedicated to Captain Paul K. Chapell, author of The End of War. Like me, he believes that the study of war and the men who fight them can lead to the understanding of how to prevent them. Also like me, he is willing to devote his life to the cause. I salute him sor his continuing service to our nation.



My wife and I decided to kick off the weekend of the Fourth of July by visiting a restaurant where a friend of ours works as a waitress. We were disappointed to see that she was not on duty. When we asked if she was off enjoying the holiday, we were told that she was with her family, privately remembering the son that she lost several years ago in Iraq.

Celebrating was harder for us this year. I have always known that freedom is not free. I did my time in the military, as have many of my family. However, the price I paid was to have my medical school education paid for while enjoying my tour of duty at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. I did not volunteer to go fight a war in a blazing desert or in a frozen mountain range for reasons I could not understand.

We owe it to our young people to examine the reasons we let these few brave young men and women shoulder the burden that rightfully should be shared by every citizen. We might be more cautious if we knew that our children could be called to fight in these God-forsaken places by our so-called “leaders.” Even if you or I do not have children of an age where they might be called to fight, we should have to bear the financial sacrifice needed to pay for the war, not leave it to this same generation to pay by their sweat as well as blood.

There are many reasons that Americans may choose not to look at the reasons for war. Some are too convinced that there is nothing an average citizen can do. Others do not get accurate information because they are dependent on corporate-controlled media for their national news, who have become virtual stenographers for the White House. Some have children in the wars and do not want to consider the possibility that they are dying not for freedom but for Empire. Other reasons include apathy, fear of being out of step, fear of attack by terrorists or simple loyalty to their Party.

None of these reasons is good enough, however understandable. It is ignorance, apathy and despair that have let our democracy slip away from us and allowed international corporate interests become so powerful that they control the Senate and largely determine who becomes President and to whom he or she will be beholden. With this state of affairs, they also determine when we are going to have a war to advance their interests at the expense of the average American. The shifting series of rationales offered for the Iraq war supports this conclusion, since none of them were based on facts. Sadaam was not engaged in terrorism against the US and there was no reason to be in Iraq except to advance the Empire of international oil interests who will stop at nothing to control access to the oil upon which they and government policies they paid for have kept us dependent.

Next Fourth of July, We could be celebrating our independence from the oil industry. The BP gusher may be the thing that makes this possible. These events are not independent. Every event that affects the oil industry affects the chance they continue to destroy the environment and the endless wars for profit. We have a role in this. Each of us still has the right to vote. It is our responsibility to study the issues and the real reasons we fight wars. They have accomplished little but to increase the number of potential terrorists driven by what we have done in Iraq, Afghanistan and by proxy in Gaza and the West Bank in what was formerly Palestine.

The causes of war are inter-related. We are all interdependent and share the costs of accepting the self-fulfilling prophecy that war is inevitable. We all hope for peace but do little to promote it. We vote our pocket books and base our votes on propaganda paid for by the international corporate interests that tell our Senate when it is time for war. Our children pay the price in blood, sweat and tears for our apathy and lack of faith in a democracy that is endangered because we don’t belive in our power to control our own destiny.

If we want peace, let us start with the assumption that it is possible and work to make that a reality. We can each choose to demand an end to wars of Empire and restore our economy by ending the bondage of depending on oil and an unregulated “free market” global economy that has proven as ruinous to our economy as endless war. I hope that by our next Fourth of July, we will be celebrating our interdependence with our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Perhaps then we will see how to celebrate our independence from the ever-present threat of war.





In the words of Edwin Starr:




War, huh, yeah.
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Uh-huh.


War, huh, yeah.
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Say it again, y'all.


War, huh, good God!
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Listen to me.


Ohhh, war, I despise
because it means destruction
of innocent lives.


War means tears
to thousands of mothers' eyes.
When their sons go to fight
and lose their lives.


I said, war, huh!
Good God, y'all.
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Say it again:


War, whoa, Lord!
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Listen to me:


War, it ain't nothing
but a heartbreaker.
War, friend only to the undertaker.


Ooooh, war.
It's an enemy to all mankind
The point of war blows my mind.


War has caused unrest
within the younger generation.
Induction then destruction.
Who wants to die?


Aaaaah, war-huh!
Good God y'all,
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Say it, say it, say it!


War, huh!
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Listen to me.


War, huh, yeah.
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Uh-huh.


War, huh, yeah!
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Say it again y'all.


War, huh, good God!
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Listen to me.


War, it ain't nothing but a heartbreaker.
War, it's got one friend,
that's the undertaker.


Ooooh, war has shattered
many a young mans dreams.
Made him disabled, bitter and mean.


Life is much to short and precious
to spend fighting wars these days.
War can't give life,
it can only take it away.


Ooooh, war, huh!
Good God, y'all.
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Say it again.


War, whoa, Lord!
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Listen to me.


War, it ain't nothing but a heartbreaker.
War, friend only to the undertaker.
Peace, love and understanding:
Tell me, is there no place for them today?


They say we must fight to keep our freedom,
but Lord knows there's got to be a better way.


Ooooooh, war, huh!
Good God, y'all.
What is it good for?
You tell me.
Say it, say it, say it, say it....


War, huh!
Good God, y'all.
What is it good for?
Stand up and shout it:
Nothing!






Rick Staggenborg, MD


Coos Bay, Oregon

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