While the Tree Was Being Lit

Ruis, gepost door: Sudhama Ranganathan op 05/02/2012 02:12:52

On December 1 the First Family and the nation celebrated the annual lighting of the White House Christmas Tree. It was a joyous event, one of the better over the last few administrations, celebrating not only the holiday and the season but so much more. It celebrated the things that are great about our country including our traditions that bring us together as a nation. Many stars were on hand to celebrate along with the first family. Children were on hand to watch and celebrate along with their parents and it was truly an American family affair.

While we were celebrating the annual lighting of the tree and things were going well here there was still reason to stop and take a moment to think about what was happening elsewhere. Outside of Washington there were places of peace and places that were still struggling with the idea. In Iraq soldiers were coming home, though that was almost not the case. The administration was unable to secure a deal with the Iraqi government to guarantee full immunity from any possible future prosecutions for all our soldiers that could possibly be staying behind, so they brought them back. Thank God for a stubborn Iraqi leadership.
Of course we are still leaving a sizable contingent of diplomats and private security behind – the largest in the world. The cost to run it will be about $3.5 billion a year. “There will be about 16,000 people working for the State Department at the embassy in Baghdad and consulates elsewhere in Iraq. At least 5,000 of those in Iraq will be private security contractors.” (http://northcountrypublicradio.net/news/npr/143863722/with-huge-embassy-...) That means essentially private contractors will take the place of normal US soldiers. They are much more expensive than normal soldiers and have a hit and miss track record in terms of discipline and reliability. And of course we will be footing the bill for it all. Sure Iraq has oil, but the people that profit from that are large corporations, not the majority of us paying the taxes that pay for that private security.
In Afghanistan the fighting continues and is expected to continue until 2014 when hopefully we will draw down. But that is not a guarantee, because, though they have no oil, they have large deposits of mineral resources and wealthy corporations want it. We have had private security contractors set up party's wherein young boys dress up like girls for old men to later on rape and molest in order to curry favor with them and get on their good side. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/213720) We have seen killings continue and an Afghani leadership unsure about which sides they are on. Will we see leadership try and remain there also?
Our leadership is clueless. In Iraq and Afghanistan combined “At least 468 active duty and reserve troops died [in 2010] in suspected suicides. The number of service members felled in hostile action was 455, according to the Department of Defense Manpower Data Center.” (http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/nccosc/AboutUs/Pages/articleMilitary...)
Yet despite this well known fact, the administration tried to keep troops in Iraq and are remaining in Afghanistan despite the fact the “original mission” has been successfully fulfilled, which is what was claimed would be our target goal in surging in Afghanistan. The other side of the isle has been no better and has in fact criticized the president for not successfully extending the goal in Iraq and setting a timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan. We are still there for oil and resources that American taxpayers will see no return on profits from (not that it would be an excuse for war) and soldiers are both dying and killing themselves to help ensure the wealthy corporations benefitting get wealthier. The only non-corporate beneficiaries are politicians supporting such actions and getting campaign contributions from such entities.
While all that “merriment” is happening for wealthy corporations and politicians we suffer. The children of soldiers that lost their lives go without a parent this time of year. The remaining families will be left to try and explain why they are not around this year.
While wealthy CEO's and politicians toast champagne on the taxpayer dime the dancing boys used to broker mineral deals and favors remain abused and hurt. They are alone left to ruthless pimps that keep them prisoners to be abused again and again. Let's not forget our tax dollars were used to pay for some of that abuse.
While we celebrate our good lives let's not forget about poor children in communities like the urban African American communities and many rural communities of all colors that have been so hard hit by a lack of jobs. Let's not forget that the billions spent overseas to secure profits for wealthy corporations employing people from other nations which could have been either spent by the government to create jobs back home, or simply put back into people's pockets so they may have more this season and be able to create more jobs.
While we think about all we have to be thankful for let's take a moment and remember all the children made orphans by a broken immigration system at home in need of reform but lacking politicians with the courage to do the right thing. A record number of families were split up that way this year and last year despite the campaign promises of 2008.
The lighting of the tree in Washington was indeed a joyful event. It was a family affair to remember for all involved and all that watched. But there is more work for us to do. Those of us with the hearts and wills to give a little where we can however much that is for us and our situation be it a lot or a little, may we do so whatever that means relative to those things in our world that need attention this year and which we choose to put our energy towards.
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.

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