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Elections & Voting Last Updated: Oct 30th, 2008 - 23:30:46

How would our silent soldiers cast their final ballot?
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 31, 2008, 00:17

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It�s all in the cause of freedom, Americans keep parroting; some in fanatical belief, most in embarrassing rationalization that lives, other people�s lives, don�t mean very much to them after everything is said and done. Almost 5,000 of �our own� fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan; and more than a hundred-fold of �theirs� . . . figures that we dare not count!

�Operation Iraqi Freedom� with a count past 4,000, and �Operation Enduring Freedom� with a tally aiming at its first 1,000 dead! We refer to them as American casualties of war instead of what they really are: sacrificial victims to the casualness of war. Can we stop to ponder, even if just for a minute, how all these silenced lives, theirs (Iraqis and Afghans) as well as ours, can be attributed to the casualness with which a genocidal maniac, lacking both decency and scruples, exercised the power of his office to take this nation to war? And how the rest of us, presumed to be knowledgeable citizens, were myopically unable to differentiate between terror and error; or, if we did, we did not much care?

In four days, we, the people of these United States should have a president-elect who will take the reins of the nation on January 20, 2009. Shouldn�t these near-5,000 dead soldiers have some say in this matter? Shouldn�t their recommendation to our own consciences count? Is it victory they are clamoring for from their graves . . . or is it peace and goodwill they would wish to remind us of? Would they support us in electing, first and foremost, a new commander-in-chief, a Caesar for the empire, or would they prefer the new president be more a peacemaker-in-chief, a steward for the real needs of the nation?

No, we�ll never know how our fallen, whether family members or neighbors, might have voted had they been alive. Whether they would have voted for John McCain in hubristic pride, or cast their ballots for true change: anybody but McCain. We will never know! Perhaps the only thing that should be important to all of us now, as we mark our ballots, is that we stop adding any more silent soldiers . . . with silence restricted to rifles, mortars and all dumb/smart weapons in our taxpayer-supported arsenal.

Oh how we love our military! We love them so much that we have opted to have the topic of war, and those compatriots engaged in it, remain a quiet issue for this election; relegated to fourth place in importance, behind the medal trio (economy, health care and energy). In fact, there are a couple of contending issues for that fourth spot: global climate change and Lou Dobbs� obsession: national borders� control and immigration.

How would a soldier feel if in the last few seconds before he or she expires, as his or her life is mortally sequestered thousands of miles away from home, somewhere in Asia or the Middle East, someone explained exactly the freedom he or she is dying for? Forget about defending, on our behest, the freedoms expressed in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution -- that�s total naivet� given the true reasons for waging the current wars the US is in. There seems to be a greater, primordial freedom, one that permeates the American way of life in all its aspects of both peace and war. The freedom we are referring to, and one which is readily accepted by most Americans, is the �freedom of enrichment� whether for licit or illicit purposes . . . never mind the 8th Commandment.

No better example for the exercise of this freedom of enrichment than the killing fields of Iraq where 4,168 American soldiers, defenders of that freedom, have died. These silent Americans have safeguarded that freedom for contractors, corporations, scoundrels and cronies to those in power, to enrich themselves in those same foreign killing fields, all too often through corruption and defalcation.

But the freedom of enrichment they, knowingly or unknowingly, have died for during the course of seven years of war also had many beneficiaries right at home. During those years in which they were fighting to preserve freedom, America was being economically raped by those who abused such freedom to serve their personal greed: by scheming players in the colossal real estate swindle -- all under the auspices of an irresponsible government and a consenting Fed -- and by a thieving, unregulated Wall Street that defrauded not just America but the world with hocus-pocus financial derivatives and its own brand of toilet paper . . . countless rolls of CDS (credit default swaps) made available to most major banks in the world.

One cannot help but intuitively know that if these silent soldiers could cast a final ballot in this election, knowing what they now know, and irrespective of their families� honest but misguided patriotism, they would not want another warmonger for a leader; no, not anymore.

� 2008 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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