By David Swanson
Cindy Sheehan’s interviews, essays, and speeches get better with each passing month, as her pain continues, her passion and insight grow, and the war that killed her son goes on – as the president who killed her son goes on being president. Cindy’s latest book, “Dear President Bush,” is the best of the three books by or about Cindy Sheehan that I’ve read.
“Not One More Mother’s Child” was Cindy’s first collection of essays. It’s a longer book, including her writings from November 2004 to September 2005, along with some beautiful photographs and forwards by John Conyers, Thom Hartmann, and Jodie Evans. “The Vigil: 26 Days in Crawford, Texas” is a collection of newspaper reports on Camp Casey from the Lone Star Iconoclast, with a forward by Sheehan. These are both excellent books. One contains much of Cindy’s brilliant and moving voice. The other comes close to setting the scene of what it was like to be in that place in Crawford last summer surrounded by so much emotion and so much hope.
Cindy’s new book contains material from September 2005 through January 2006, plus a note from the editor, an introduction by Howard Zinn, and an excellent forward by Hart Viges, a veteran of the war on Iraq and a conscientious objector.
“I don’t know,” Viges writes, “how many innocents I killed with my mortar rounds. I have my imagination to pick at my brain for that one. But I clearly remember the call-out over the radio saying, ‘Green light on all taxi cabs. The enemy is using them for transportation.’
“One of our snipers called back on the radio saying ‘Excuse me, but did I hear that order correctly? Green light on all taxi cabs?’
“‘Roger that, soldier. You’d better start buckling up.'”
Viges was so disturbed by what he did that he refused to continue. But he found a way to go on with his life, working for peace. He found that way through the strength created at Camp Casey
The first and best section of Cindy’s new book is a lengthy interview she did with Greg Ruggiero last September, in which Cindy speaks brilliantly off the cuff, which is what she is probably best at. What rings through her remarks is not just the telling of her personal story (there’s relatively little of that here), but the way in which her historical and political analysis is inflamed by her personal experience.
Amazingly – if you know and love Cindy – it takes 32 pages before she first curses. She does so when asked “What did you want to say to President Bush when you were camped outside his place in Crawford, Texas?”
Her reply begins: “Well, of course the first thing I wanted to ask was: ‘What noble cause did Casey die for? Was it freedom and democracy?’ Bullshit. He died for oil. He died to make Bush’s friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East….” She concludes by calling for impeachment.
When Cindy said that last September, it had an air of radicalism about it. Many people still liked to talk about the war as a mistake or a miscalculation and to assume that in some sense the war had really been started for democracy, even thought that rationale had been produced after the original selling points of WMD and ties to 9-11 had failed and the war was well underway. (Imagine, though, if military recruits had to sign papers promising to defend the United States or to attack other countries if killing no more than a few hundred thousand people might possibly result in a democracy. What size would the US Army be?)
But Cindy didn’t just renounce the latest lie or say her son had died for lies, she pointed to what had really motivated Bush, Cheney, their associates, and the Project for a New American Century. She even went so far as to say the word oil, which has always been the most obvious Big Truth and therefore has elicited the fiercest condemnation in defense of the Big Lie.
Eight months later, Cindy’s remarks don’t sound very radical. They sound pretty much in line with those of the 65 percent of Americans who disapprove of Bush’s performance.
The two essays that Cindy has included on the failures of Democrats and, in particular, Hillary Clinton have become only more relevant. Clinton this week announced a fundraiser for herself being hosted by Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, and praised George W. Bush to the media. A majority of Democrats have now voted for sanctions that mark the first step toward launching a war on Iran. Some of them should read this book. Maybe you should send your Congress Member a copy.
My favorite article, though, is Cindy’s letter to Bush’s Mama, Barbara Bush, in which she writes: “On March 18, 2003, a little over a year before my dear, sweet Casey was killed by your son’s policies, you appeared on Good Morning America and said the following: ‘Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?’
“Now I have something to tell you, Barbara. I didn’t want to hear about deaths or body bags either. On April 4, 2004, three Army officers came to my house to tell me that Casey had been killed in Iraq. I fell on the floor screaming and begging the cruel Angel of Death to take me too. But the Angel of Death that took my son is your son.”
Every day there are new mothers, Iraqi and American, facing that angel of death. And yet “journalists” and the Republican National Committee’s talking points tell us that impeachment proceedings would be traumatic. I guess it all depends on your definition of “trauma.”
Buy Cindy’s new book at http://www.gsfp.org/