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The Bodies of War That Iraq War Architects Dare Not Acknowledge or Confront

Tomas Young, a veteran of the Iraq War whose story was presented in the 2007 documentary, Body of War, appeared on “Democracy Now!” on March 21. The dying soldier read his moving letter to President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and all the other war criminals that sent him and tens of thousands of other young men and women to Iraq to engage in violence in a country, which posed no threat to America whatsoever.

Tomas Young, dying Iraq War veteran on “Democracy Now!”

Shot in Sadr City in Iraq in 2004, he is paralyzed from the waist down. The injury was so severe that he could not regulate his body temperature like a normal human. He had a pulmonary embolism in his right arm four years later, which made it impossible for him to use it. He had his colon removed recently to heal pain he was experiencing. He now has a colostomy bag, but that did not take care of the pain. His ability to speak is deteriorating. The clear-spoken man audiences who viewed Body of War met slurs words. Yet, for all that he has been through, his mind is still completely in tact and he has made a sober decision to end his life because the body he was born into this life with can no longer support him without causing immense suffering for him.

Sitting in a wheelchair with a head rest to support him, he looks exhausted. His beard and hair has grown out. If he was seen alone on the street and asked for help, nobody would take him seriously. They would likely mistake him for a drunk. They would convince themselves he was a junky. They would be afraid because they would not have the courage to face a man, whose body is in such a horrid condition, who does not support the war in which he was sent to fight and who is like so many veterans of these wars who are victims of the Iraq War.

In the letter, Young declares, “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.”

The Iraq War architects are war criminals, plunderers and murderers in the eyes of Young. He concludes, “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.”

Unrepentant Sociopaths of the Bush Administration

It is abundantly clear days after the tenth anniversary that the architects of this war may never repent for what they did. Richard Perle, a neoconservative who served on the Pentagon’s Defense Board, when asked the View from Nowhere question of the week, “Was it worth it?” on NPR, sociopathically responded:

I’ve got to say…I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t a decade later go back and say, well, we shouldn’t have done that.

Which is to say that people like Tomas and the people of Iraq, whose lives are now in utter ruin, cannot question what was done because the architects “believed” they were  “protecting” the country. It is to excuse the architects of any responsibility for their actions and implicitly condemn the victims of war, who harbor animosity toward them. [cont’d.]

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."