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November 22, 2014

My Last Words to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney


Source:  Counterpunch

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.

Tomas Young died November 10, 2014