Bodies of War


"To vote no on the resolution engineered as it was by the White House and fed by the White House Iraq Group - the assembly of advertising agency warriors who name our invasions like Shock and Awe, Enduring Freedom, Rolling Thunder, Mission Accomplished."

What those Orwellian locutions disguise, Donahue asserts, are the dropping of bombs on crowded cities where children and old people are sleeping.

"And the American people are at home watching it on television. We wonder why we're not liked? But you can't even explore why we're not liked because if you do the laptop bombers who beat the loudest drums for this war - and wouldn't think of sending their own kids to fight it - if you express any wonder about how we could be so despised that 19 guys with box cutters would bring this country to its knees and randomly kill 3,000 people - if you ask what motivated them you were blaming the victims."

As Donahue found on his short lived MSNBC network show, it was hard to launch even a discussion of the march to war, he says. He credits what he calls the government's multi-million dollar campaign to marginalize the dissenting voice, which was a stunning success.

"You were unpatriotic if you questioned the war, you didn't support the troops. "What are you going to do, sing 'Kumbaya'! Ha Ha Ha!"

Donahue attributes his enduring spirit to his Irish background. "My father's people, the Donahues - by the way there are no Donahues in Ireland, our name was Anglicized - came from Zanesville, Ohio and my mother from Cleveland. My father's mother's name was Kiernan too, so there's no hope for me at all, the saints preserve us."

Now in 2008, Donahue laments, politicians have to run for office with a bayonet in their fist. But in his view Americans are never going to feel safe or be safe until they're brave enough to elect leaders who will reach out rather than lash out.

There's no glory for fixing health care, there's no glory for fixing public education, there's no glory for fixing an economy. The only way you get a statue in a park is to win a war. This, says Donahue, is what we celebrate.

"This is the vision that Bush sees. Some day they'll see how brave and wise he was. Marching forward to the danger that lay before him. But for one more person to die in this war is morally indefensible."

The U.S. Constitution declares that only Congress can declare war, but in Donahue's view Congress did what all Congresses have done since the early 1940's - spinelessly avoiding a mandate to take a stand up or down on this war.

"They covered their eyes and handed the president a piece of paper that says here is permission if you think you have to. That is not what the framers intended. James Madison is the one who said don't give this power to declare war to one man, it's too much of a temptation. If you do he'll get on his horse and draw his sword."

For Tomas Young the Iraq war is over, but it will remain with him for the rest of his life. He's sick every day in bowel and bladder, he throws up every morning. He suffers from erectile dysfunction too, and his marriage has ended.

"Twenty eight years old in the prime of life - what's a sacrifice to you? Nobody knows this. Less than 5% of this nation has sacrificed for this war. And you have all these bomb throwers tripping over bombs crying God bless this and God bless that.

"They can't want to bless everything. These are the hypocrites who would never think of drafting the rich. Unless we draft the rich we'll never get out of our holier than thou breast beating, our insecure declarations that we're the last remaining superpower. Oh sit down - what is your point? The longer we say that the more insecure we appear to be."