Soldiers say no to ‘suicide’

Knowing they faced possible court martial, it was an act of great courage for 18 Army Reservists in Iraq to refuse to obey an order that they viewed as “suicidal.”

The soldiers were ordered to drive aging, ill-equipped fuel tankers with inadequate armed escort from their base in Tallil to a base north of Baghdad, a zone in which dozens of insurgent attacks on poorly defended convoys have killed or wounded many U.S. soldiers.

In calls to their families, the soldiers reported that they took their stand after months of unkept promises of better equipment, more armor, and reinforced escorts. Instead, the security situation has worsened and the frequency of insurgent attacks has sharply escalated.

The Pentagon is treating the rebellion as a hot potato, waiting to see if Bush and Cheney steal a second term before throwing the book at these brave dissenters. The soldiers performed a valuable service in shining the spotlight on a crisis that George W. Bush would like to sweep under the rug as he prattles about the situation in Iraq “improving,” and that the U.S. is “spreading freedom.”

The Pentagon claims the protest is “isolated,” but groups like Military Families Speak Out have received many messages from families of soldiers in Iraq, who charge that they, too, are being forced to carry out “suicidal” orders in an unwinnable war.

Reservists and National Guard members like Camilo Mejia, now serving a two-year prison term, are refusing to report for deployment to Iraq. Recruiters report they can’t fill their recruiting quotas. A new generation is telling Bush, “Hell no, we won’t go!”

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has accused Bush of using a “draft,” forcing Americans to act as cannon fodder. Concern is growing that Bush could well bring back the military draft if he gains a second term. We should all join this new movement against “suicide.” Go to the polls Nov. 2 and vote to dump Bush.

Exposed! Bush vs. Social Security

The 100 big-money donors who gathered in Washington last month for a hush-hush luncheon surely felt they got their money’s worth in promises from George W. Bush. He told the group what he was planning to give them if he’s re-elected: the environment, Iraq, the justice system, and — the pièce de résistance — Social Security.

Last week, the New York Times Magazine reported on the event, quoting Bush’s remarks about his intent to “come out strong” in January with the “privatizing of Social Security.” Bush campaign officials tried to smooth things over by saying that he never used the word “privatize.” But call it what you will, the Bush plan by any other name stinks just as bad.

Relying on scare tactics and threats of bankrupt Social Security funds, Bush’s faulty logic says the only way to “save” Social Security is to take money away from it and give that money to private investment firms. Instead of putting their money into Social Security, Bush wants younger workers to gamble with their future while potentially devastating today’s seniors.

The fact of the matter is that Bush’s plan will certainly benefit one group — the investment firms that have been chomping at the bit for decades to get a piece of the more than $600 billion that workers put into Social Security each year.

When Social Security was first implemented, President Franklin Roosevelt intended it to be a protection for workers from “a poverty-ridden old age.” To put that money into the stock market and other so-called high-yield investments puts everyone at risk —everyone, that is, except the investment firms that stand to make huge profits off Bush’s plans. No matter what the performance of the accounts, these firms will find a way to skim their unfair share off the top.

Bush and those applauding the January gifts he was pledging are counting on his re-election and a Republican majority in Congress. While the struggle to protect Social Security will likely continue, the first step is to defeat Bush on Nov. 2.