Three Years Ago Today


“Shock and Awe”
by Neil Young

Back in the days of “mission accomplished”
Our chief was landing on the deck
The sun was setting on a golden photo op
Back in the days of “mission accomplished”

Thousands of bodies in the ground
Brought home in boxes to a trumpet’s sound
No one sees them coming home that way
Thousands buried in the ground

Thousands of children scarred for life
Millions of tears for a soldier’s wife
Both sides are losing now
Heaven takes them in
Thousands of children scarred for life

We had a chance to change our mind
But somehow wisdom was hard to find
We went with what we knew and now we can’t go back
But we had a chance to change our mind.
Shock and Awe, Copyright Neil Young.

Young has done something really interesting with this latest CD. It’s an entire CD of protest and anti-war songs, and he’s put the whole thing up on his website for free listening. You can read about it here. You can read a long blog about it here. You can listen to the whole CD at Neil’s site.

I understand that tomorrow, May 2nd, it will be available for digital download purchase.
(Update: I am now reading that the release date has been moved to May 9)

Despite the three-year-old photo-op, designed to reassure us how well the war was going, most Americans do not believe the “mission” has been “accomplished.” In fact, only NINE PERCENT believe it has been.

Consider the facts about the last three years:

On the day of the photo-op, only 139 Americans had been killed in the war. Now, almost 2,400 have been killed. 321 Americans contractors have been killed in Iraq. 285 Americans have died in Afganistan.

Put those totals together, what do you get? A number that surpasses the death toll of September 11th.

In fact, the blog ThinkProgress has put together a chart that it calls “Mission Accomplished by the Numbers.
It tracks exactly where we were on the day of the President’s photo-op, and where we are today:

And then there’s this from our own State Department:

The State Department’s latest annual report on global terrorism concludes that the number of reported terrorist incidents and deaths has increased exponentially in the years since the United States invaded Iraq, largely because of Iraq itself.

The report says that 30 percent of all terrorist attacks, worldwide, now happen in Iraq.

What continues to be inconceivably tragic to me is that I cannot find one statistic in the previous that is a surprise to me, or seems far from the mark of where I assumed we’d be about now. In fact, the continuing grief that I bear –everytime I think about this war very deeply– is that it has unfolded almost exactly as I expected it would. And, for the life of me, I cannot understand how our Administration did not expect these results too. Before the war, I told anyone who would listen that I assumed the actual “war” would be pretty quick. But I also said that, afterwards, the power vacuum that would be created by the war itself, might birth YEARS of terrorists attacks, and a war by attrition.

I cannot comprehend how no one in the inner circle that planned this war didn’t see that would happen. I’m not a politician or a military planner. But I know enough about human nature to know what happens when you invade another country, and the people of that country do not believe you have a legitimate reason for invading them:

They fight back. Hard. They don’t greet you as liberators. They don’t thank you for your benevolence.

The Iraqis are simply following this simple dictum of human nature:

Slam somebody else’s family…that’s one thing. Slam MY family? You’ve got a fight on your hand.

Did our leaders REALLY not understand this? Did they REALLY not understand that we’d been in EXACTLY this position now? REALLY? How can that be?

Because I did. I knew, on the day that photo-op picture was taken, that I’d be writing these words today.

And everytime I think back on this war, I get more and more depressed, more and more confused, and more and more unable to believe that NO ONE at the top understood where this would lead.

‘Cause I did, and so did a lot of other folks. And it’s not ’cause we’re smart. It’s just because it’s all so ridiculously, tragically, predictable.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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