FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from
(DV) Vallin: Stunning Silence and Belated Apologies







Stunning Silence and Belated Apologies
by Daniel Vallin
December 17, 2005

Send this page to a friend! (click here)


Just about 3 years ago, in March 2003, the United States, a nation which likes to refer to itself as “peace-loving,” “democratic,” “civilized,” and standing for “liberty and justice,” lied to the world and attacked the sovereign nation of Iraq without provocation. We in the West are somewhat accustomed to seeing media reports of “other” countries (for example Iran) where people actually demonstrate in favor of a war, but it certainly came as a surprise to most of us in Europe to see that Americans actually took to the streets in support of a war. Most, of course, came out to protest against the war, but this tiny (and apparently brave) minority nationally was met not only with the oppression of the government (which cordoned the protesters into out of sight, fenced-in areas -- Orwellian “Free speech zones”), but the derision of active, organized counter-protests, which chanted slogans supporting a war of aggression on a nation which never in its history had attacked the U.S. In virtually every news report covering U.S. protests against the war, the presence of pro-war counter protesters is also mentioned. 

Now, we are hearing a different story coming from that peace-loving folk across the ocean. Thomas Paine, the famous American propagandist of the revolution, wrote of the “sunshine patriot” who took the easy way out, only supporting his country when it was convenient and comfortable. Americans, it seems, are also sunshine peace supporters. All polls indicate that the American populace has turned against the war. But before we all rejoice that the world’s greatest polluter, energy consumer, and military spender has seen the light, we should note the following facts. 

Before the war started, and while the Bush regime was making its case for a “pre-emptive” war (what they were pre-empting is still not clear), Europe saw the greatest mass assemblies in history to protest the coming war. On a cold 15th of February, millions marched and spoke out; 2 million in Rome, 2 million in London, 1 million in Madrid, 1 million in Barcelona, 500,00 in Berlin, 250,00 in Paris, and many more throughout the European continent. Yet the two greatest cities of the United States could only muster less than a combined 600,000. 

In fact, American public opinion only turned against the Iraq war when it became clear that the US forces could not win, and at a time when over 2000 of their own soldiers had been killed in the conflict -- October 2005. When American bombers were invulnerably bombing civilians back in 2003, nary a word against the war was heard. When widely respected British medical journal The Lancet reported that an estimated 100,000 Iraqis had been killed by American aggression, no mass outpouring of anti-war sentiment came from the United States. 

When the gruesome torture of Iraqi prisoners came to light in spring of 2004, the polls still showed continued majority support for the war, and proud, civilized Americans waved their flags and drove their oversized cars adorned with yellow ribbons admonishing their fellow Americans to “support our troops.” In September of 2004, when Special Advisor Charles Duelfer’s report came out, stating what the rest of the world already knew before the war -- that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction, that the Bush regime’s case for war was a lie from start to finish -- there was again silence from the American populace. No calls to pull out, no contrition for invading a country without just cause, merely silence and continuation of the war policy. 

When American forces were destroying the city of Falluja with chemical weapons in November of 2004, only the most "radical" of Americans voiced their opposition. Perhaps their voices were drowned out by the great number of Americans who voted, some days before the battle, to return to office the President who started the war (admittedly, whether this number represented a true majority remains questionable). 

With each new “revelation” (although it was painfully clear to the rest of the world -- certainly, at least, to the millions who marched against the war in February of 2003 or countless times thereafter) of the sheer stupidity and moral bankruptcy of the Iraq war, many Americans were silent. Where was the outrage from the peace-loving land of liberty and justice? Where were the masses of dissenters and critics? Those who oppose the war now -- too little, too late -- show only the fickle nature of American morality: more concerned with the war’s cost in dollars than in lives, non-American lives apparently counting for nothing, as they are not counted at all by the Pentagon (hence, it is therefore curious where Bush came up with his 30,000 Iraqi dead figure). "Each word," wrote Jean-Paul Sartre, "has an echo. So does each silence." 

Daniel Vallin is a writer who no longer lives in the United States.