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By Mike Hudson

Dear Joe,

I'm writing today because I got your e-mail, and it occurs to me you're becoming totally unhinged. The subject line of your message read "I love the smell of Uday in the morning ... smells like, victory," paraphrasing a line out of one of the greatest anti-war movies ever, "Apocalypse Now."

The better line in that picture is the one uttered by Col. Kurtz as he lays dying following his assassination by Capt. Willard.

"The horror."

For some reason you love this war.

Aside from the fact that President Bush started it, and you're a big fan of his, I would suspect that a major reason you're so enamored of the carnage in Iraq is that you don't know, personally, anyone over there.

On the same day that Saddam's sons were killed, three Americans died in Iraq, one from the 3rd Armored Brigade and two from the 101st Airborne. Another 10 were wounded.

News of these American casualties was largely lost amid the celebratory coverage surrounding the deaths of Saddam's sons, so it's understandable if you missed it.

As I write this, I don't know the names and hometowns of our latest war dead. They haven't released them, pending notification of next-of-kin.

But I can tell you that your light-hearted message this morning would do little to cheer those three sets of grieving parents, the widows or the children of the dead Americans.

Don't get me wrong.

Uday and Qusay were real bad actors and got what was coming to them.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day and, in this instance, Bush's illegal war managed to accomplish some good.

On the other hand, if I knew that tomorrow I could undo it, somehow trade the lives of Saddam's evil sons for the lives of those three brave American soldiers and bring them all back to life, I would set out for Baghdad in the morning.

Whatever we accomplish over there, it isn't worth it, Joe. It's not worth the life of a single American soldier. And, since March 20 in Iraq, we've lost 244.

Uday and Qusay were real bad actors and got what was coming to them. Even a broken clock is right twice a day and, in this instance, Bush's illegal war managed to accomplish some good.

I know, you question these casualty figures. They're much higher than those you hear on the news. That's because, for the first time in American history, the government is keeping two sets of books about the number of war dead. There's the ones they say died from hostile fire and there's the ones who died from other causes.

More than a half dozen American servicemen have committed suicide in Iraq, for example, and they're not included in the official count.

Incidents of fragging, in which enlisted men murder their superior officers, are likewise not included.

Nor are deaths due to highway accidents, many of which are caused by vehicles going too fast in order to avoid being lit up by enemy small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire.

They also don't count the guys who've been blown up clearing enemy minefields.

On D-Day, the 6th of June, 1944, a lot of soldiers died for reasons unrelated to actually getting shot by a German. A significant number drowned trying to get off the landing craft, sinking like rocks under the weight of their combat gear.

On the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., there are the names of more than 53,000 soldiers who died in that godforsaken conflict, and the names of those who died from malaria or heroin overdoses are listed next to those who were killed by enemy fire. In those days, no technical differences were imposed by politicians on these patriots.

But in Iraq, such distinctions are made. The White House spin doctors recognize the need to minimize the number of casualties. Somehow, if you got shot in the back by an Iraqi, your death is judged more noble than if you got shot in the back by a comrade whose weapon accidentally discharged.

Let's face it, Joe, they're just as dead, aren't they? Their families are feeling the same anguish. And it's pretty safe to assume that most of them would still be alive had they not been sent to Iraq by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Rice.

Bill Clinton was no angel. But the visceral hatred you and others held for him resulted in a morbid national curiosity about whether Paula Jones could identify his member, whether the stains on Monica Lewinsky's dress were something other than the remains of a glazed doughnut and why the President of the United States would have to resort to such lowlife trash in the first place.

The Republican Congress forced the people of the United States to pony up $80 million to finance Ken Starr's six-year investigation into these and other allegedly important matters.

You're an honest man, Joe. What if Bill Clinton had been defeated by a majority of American voters in 1992 or 1996? What if he had won only due to the machinations of the Arkansas political machine? What if he had been the first president taking the White House since Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 to lose in the popular election? What if he was the first president in American history to have to redact something said in a State of the Union address?

And what if he then involved us in a war that cost the lives of hundreds of Americans, based on proven lies, misrepresentations and exaggerations about everything from a nuclear threat to biological and chemical weapons to ties with al-Qaeda?

What if he had long-standing business ties with the Saudis, who planned, financed and carried out the attacks against this country on Sept. 11, 2001?

Look in your heart, Joe. I think you know the answers to these questions.

Bush is guilty of these and a myriad of other crimes. He's a criminal, a war criminal, and you can dance your little victory jig on the graves of Hussein's sons if you want to. Forgive me if I can't share your elation.

I think of kids growing up in the inner cities or the rural reaches of these United States, joining the Army after seeing that "Be all that you can be" commercial on television, and hearing about how it will help them with their college tuition. Then going over there and getting shot to pieces so that the likes of Halliburton and the Carlyle Group can post record profits.

God bless them all, for our soldiers are the true American patriots.

As for those who sent them to the desert to die, God damn them all.

Joe, if it was Clinton, or any other Democrat who put us in this mess through lies and deception, wouldn't you be the first at the barricades demanding justice and accountability? I know you would.

Are war lies less grave than sex lies? Are the deaths of 244 Americans less important than some soiled blue dress?

Look in your heart.

Anyway, it's always a pleasure. Looking forward to your return to the Falls so we can argue this over a drink. That opportunity is one of the great things I hold dear about being an American.

Your friend,
Mike Hudson

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com July 29 2003