I CAN'T get out of my mind the photo that appeared on the front page of the New York Times on 30 December. It showed a young man sitting facing a class of sixth graders in Blairsville, Pennsylvania.
Next to him was a woman-not the teacher of the class but the young fellow's mother. She was there to help him because he is blind. That was Jeremy Feldbusch, 24 years old, a sergeant in the army Rangers who was guarding a dam along the Euphrates River on 3 April when a shell exploded 100 feet away, and shrapnel tore into his face. When he came out of a coma in an army medical centre five weeks later he could not see.
The term 'seriously wounded' does not begin to convey the horror. Sergeant Feldbusch's mother, Charlene Feldbusch, virtually lived at his bedside for two months. One day she saw a young woman soldier crawling past her in the corridor. She had no legs, and her three year old son was trailing behind. George Bush was eager to send young men and women half a world away into the heart of another nation.
And even though they had fearsome weapons they were still vulnerable to guerrilla attacks that have left so many of them blinded and crippled. Is this not the ultimate betrayal of our young by our government? Their families very often understand this before their sons and daughters do, and remonstrate with them before they go off. Ruth Aitken did with her son, an army captain, telling him it was a war for oil, while he insisted he was protecting the country from terrorists.
He was killed on 4 April in a battle round Baghdad airport. Fernando Suarez del Solar told reporters that his son, a lance corporal in the Marines, had died for Bush's oil. Of course they are not the only ones betrayed. The Iraqi people, promised freedom from tyranny, were attacked by the most powerful military machine in history.
This government has betrayed the hopes of the world for peace.
This is an extract from Howard Zinn's article 'The Ultimate Betrayal' in the forthcoming issue of the Progressive, which can be found here