On the Altar of War


Mr. & Ms. Politician:

I heard you on the radio the other day. Public Broadcast, my favorite station. I listen to it every morning. Lately, though, I’ve taken to turning it off. Or not even turning it on. I don’t like starting my day angry and all this news leading into the next presidential election, well, it just makes me so mad I could spit red lava.

I don’t belong to any one party. There’s no point in it anymore. Not since Congress ruled that Corporations are people, too. You are all crooks. Lying. Cheating. Thieving. Carpet Bagging. Bunch.

But that’s  not what’s upset me. I’m used to your lack of integrity, your money-grubbing ways, and your incessant exploitation of others. I’ve come to expect nothing less of you.

What has me so upset as of late is all this talk of Iraq. Reporters keep asking you if you would have sent troops into Iraq knowing what you know now. And you all keep saying the same thing: No.

Some of you are related to the fellow who ordered the troops into Iraq. The rest of you voted to send the troops into Iraq. Pontius Pilate, trying to wash your hands of all that blood.

You are fooling no one. Least of all me. I lived this lie once before, the one where you politicians send troops to fight a war that you later claim was wrong.

I’m angry because you get the opportunity to back-pedal your way out of a wrong-headed decision. While all the rest of us Gold Star family members are stuck everyday for the rest of our lives living by the decision you made to send our loved ones to fight a war that you knew from the get-go was wrong.

You were willing to barter away the lives of good men and good women simply to further your career goals.

For what?

Greed and Ego.

As a young girl, I was like so many of the Gold Star kids of today, growing up, hearing all your political double-speak and slowly coming to the realization that what you are really saying when you say it was a mistake to send troops into Iraq/Vietnam is that you were willing, more than willing, to allow all that bloodshed because you lack integrity, moral conviction, and wisdom.

It wasn’t your sons and daughters dying in Iraq/Vietnam.

It wasn’t your fathers and mothers.

All that bloodshed cost you nothing more than a vote on the floor of Congress.

Meanwhile, all the rest of us Gold Star families, we’ve paid the real price.We’re paying it still with every birthday missed, every baby born, every high school or college graduation, every anniversary spent curled up to an empty spot in the bed, and the endless nightmare of memories never made.

When people say to me, as they have throughout my life, that my father’s death in Vietnam was a waste, it’s you I think of. And I can’t help but agree on some level. I know things as an adult that I didn’t understand as a child. The wars you constructed, construct still, were/are altars built to your ego and your greed, altars where you unmercifully slayed/slay thousands of young men and young women.

For now, you can hide in the fortress of your gated communities and your lavish lifestyles. But, keep in mind, there will be hell to pay one day for the choices you’ve made, for the bloodshed you’ve wasted.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of After the Flag has been Folded. (William Morrow).  tales of iraq war 20


Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.


Samantha Clough

about 7 years ago




about 7 years ago

I heard Jeb Bush's stunning ability to come up with a completely different answer every 2.5 days, and it gave me vertigo. I'm not actually so interested in whether the candidates/candidate imposters come up with a yes or a no to the question, "Given what you know today, would you have authorized the invasion of Iraq?" I'm more interested in whether they are able to weave together any sort of spider web of an answer that has a basis in reason. At that point, the focus shifts to us, We the unincorporated People. Do we have the visceral wherewithal to say, "Dear Mr./Ms. Talking Head, that's a BS answer and you know it?" In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, we heard a new rationale for the need to topple Saddam almost daily. What we never heard, and what I screamed at my senators and congressman for, was the answer to the question: after Saddam, then what? You don't take a pyramid shaped society with the Baath Party/Sunnis on top, the majority of disenfranchised Shiites at the bottom and turn it upside down--unless you intend to pack a lot of sand around it (U.S. troops for stability, constant pressure to prevent corruption, constant efforts at economic and political development) until the society can completely reshape itself. We should have known we would not have the patience to do that. When Obama pulled the troops out, the pyramid fell over. Guess what crawled out from under it? ISIS. NATO (with our nod) took out Gaddafi in Libya but put no boots on the ground to stabilize that polarized nation. Anarchy. We drew a red line in Syria and then did our level best to erase it because we knew we were already done with any more Middle East misadventures for this century. We have inaugurated an entirely new arena of an arms race by attempting to use drones to accomplish our objectives abroad bloodlessly at no cost to ourselves. Out of sight, out of mind, out of accountability. As though doing so would have no repercussions. Everybody these days is developing drones, ranging in size from dinner plates to small airliners. GPS can send them anywhere on the planet with sub-inch accuracy, and it's basically open source technology. So... after Saddam, that's what. One of the rationales for the invasion of Iraq was "They hate our freedoms." So we engaged in this war to bring American style democracy to Iraq when we are sick to death of our own political system here? The question for us as citizens is not whether anybody else hates our freedoms. It's whether we have the intellectual ability and integrity to exercise and maintain those freedoms--and responsibilities. International news bureaus and overseas correspondents who actually live in and know the places, politics, language and issues they report on have imploded since the start of the Iraq War. That happened because We the People were an uninterested, disinterested, distracted market addicted to infotainment. That's not a foundation for world leadership and stability. That's a house built on sand.


Aaron McNabb

about 7 years ago

We went in to Iraq because SH was no longer going to sell oil for US dollars. He was going to trade in EU's. Gaddafi was going a different route as well. We entered into an agreement to protect Saudi Arabia when we came off the Gold Standard if they traded oil for dollars. The Bush family may as well be members of the Saudi Royal family. I am a Christian conservative. The political elite must go! And many changes to reign in the corruption! If Melvin Stamper has it right and we had a president that rescinded the War Powers Act of 1933 we could possibly do away with a number of Federal agencies that by executive fiat are over the top politically. See below and do some research. I wish I could get a Constitutional lawyer to comment on this! Long story short: FDR, in March 1933, modified the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 to appease the Fed and turning it into the Emergency War Powers Act. This basically suspended the constitution. It has been in effect ever since. Look up, "A Lawsuit is an Act of War" by Melvin Stamper. You're going to be sick!



about 7 years ago

Agreed, the political elite must go. In order for that to happen, the political money must go. In order for that to happen... I have no idea how we get that done... Best answer I can come up with is a complete and total boycott of the upcoming congressional and presidential election. That might trigger a collapse of our so-called economy and a global Depression, even in Communist China. Short of that, we have to reject every avenue of the obscene spending and political advertising that is overwhelmingly negative. Contrary to the findings of the U.S. Supreme Court, the most expensive speech in the history of human civilization is not "free" speech. It is prohibitively expensive speech, and its quality is inversely proportional to its cost. The only speech that is truly "free" is that which is, after all, free of charge. Today we are not a free society. We are an auction house. Since much of what goes on in international politics is beyond our prediction and control, and since we don't do much better in thinking about economics, the issue of money in politics is perhaps the single most important issue for us to press our candidates on. It is entirely a domestic issue and entirely within our control. We can begin by pressing every candidate on the question "What do you propose to do about the Citizens United decision?" If their answer is nothing, that tells us something very important about the candidate.


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