I ask Baucus, Tester and Denny about the wars. I await their responses

By Duganz

I remember sitting in my high school computer lab when we started shocking and awing Iraqi civilians, and soldiers into oblivion. Some of my classmates were cheering. I was 18 so I could only think of Johnson, Nixon, and the story my Dad’s plan to run to Canada when he got his draft number (just a few months before the end of the Vietnam draft).

We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for over nine years, and in Iraq nearly eight years. The cost of the wars has exceeded $1 trillion. Nearly 100,000 American troops have been wounded, and thousands have died.As for civilians of those two nations, thousands are dead, homeless, or slowly descending into a mindset wherein bombs are a fashion statement.

All those years, all that money, and all of those wounded human beings and I still have yet to get a sound reason for this question I’ve had all along: “Why are we fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

It’s a childish question, I know. But it is nonetheless relevant. The Left has laid blame on reactionary tactics (Afghanistan), and corporatism (Iraq). The Right is quick to beat the purity drum with a ratta-tat-tat roll for FREEDOM! FOR! ALL! The Left arguments may be true, we may be in these conflicts for empty reactionary reasons and our ongoing desire to burn dead dinosaurs. I don’t know.

As for the Right’s reasoning, well, I don’t know how an occupation creates freedom. And I mean that literally. How are people free if armed soldiers are walking around telling them what to do?

I ultimately want to believe the best in all people, even former President George W. Bush. I want to believe that he got bad intel, and that he stretched facts for pure reasons (it ain’t likely, but I want it to be true). I want to believe that we are still losing lives and money for the cause of freedom, even if I feel that war is a misguided means to an end when it comes not from the people, but from an outside force.

But, hell, it’s probably just imperialism and greed.

I want answers to why this has happened, and why it’s still going on. I’m Cruise in A Few Good Men. I want the truth (and, sadly, my government seems to think more like Nicholson).

So I decided to email Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Max Baucus, and Rep. Dennis “Denny” Rehberg that one simple question: “Why are we fighting wars Iraq and Afghanistan?”

I didn’t put anything else in the email. Just the question; no slant or bias. I could have asked how any of them sleep at night knowing they could save lives, or if each flag-draped coffin means something to them. I could have asked Baucus if his nephew dying changed his mind.

I only used those eight simple words.

For those of you who have never emailed our national representatives, the easiest way is through the email forms available at their websites (links above). You give some personal info (most likely for future mailers), select a topic from a pre-made list, and then you’re free to write a little message.

But here’s something interesting:

At Tester’s site you cannot select Afghanistan as a topic, but you can ask about Iraq; Baucus apparently wishes to avoid talking about either (regret those votes Max?) as neither war is an available topic so I chose “foreign policy”; Denny is the only one providing an option for both under the heading “WAR.” I’m not lying. His topic list has the word “WAR.” Just like that. In CAPS. Like it should be proceeded by a grunt and the words “Good god, y’all. What is it good for?”

My emails have been sent. I’m waiting for responses.

I’ve been waiting for nearly ten years. I’ll post the responses as they come in.


Update (5:20pm): I posted this on Twitter at approximately 5:10pm MST. Rep. Rehberg’s account is verified. Sen Tester’s is not. It’s possible that Mr. Smith can infact no longer go to Washington, but Mr. Duganz can go to the internet.

  1. Their staffers read this blog – surely one of them can eek out a reply for us.

  2. Afghanistan: Best I can figure, regional dominance (the ‘stans’ border Russia, and Pakistan has a burgeoning movement to get rid of the US-backed government. There’s also that gas pipeline down south that Iran and Pakistan want to build that the multinationals do not want. The region is unsafe for the proposed gas pipeline to run south from the Caspian, but that does not mean that we will allow Iran and Pakistan to do business.

    Iraq: Many reasons – the second largest oil reserves in the world, much of it untapped. Control of those reserves gives the U.S. leverage over China and Europe, not to mention any other industrialized country that runs on imported oil. It’s not for domestic use, as we get ours from Canada, Venezuela, and Nigeria.

    But there is also the matter of regional dominance, the huge military bases (mini-cities) that house 50,000 troops and untold ordinance and hardware. It gives the U.S. leverage to attack anyone in the region without having to use Israel, as that country inspires Arab unification, always a problem for U.S. planners.

    And, of course, Iran. The U.S. has been pissed at that country since it overthrew the US-backed butcher, the Shah, in 1979.

    I know it sounds like I think I know too much. But really, to understand these affairs is always speculation, connecting dots, and ignoring the public pronouncements of politicians of both parties. I may be wrong, but ask for counter-explanations that explain various details usually overlooked, like the 14 permanent military bases in Iraq, the proposed pipeline from the Caspian Basin, the attack on Pakistan territory, the likely death of Osama in 2001 …

    • All possible answers, Mark. That’s my issue though: so many possible answers both political or personal. I have my own ideas, but I don’t have a vote in the Senate or House. Still waiting on answers.

      • Again, you won’t find actual information in the pronouncements of politicians.

        You’re on your own, sir.

        • Well, it’s not about getting a “factual” answer, per se. I just want to know why the people in power from my state think we should be in armed conflict with Iraqi and Afghani citizens.

          • Yeah, I get that, I understand what you are saying. I suspect that these people get in over their heads when they get to DC, as there is so much unbridled power at work there, so much intrigue, and so much danger of retaliation if they step out of line that they just go along with policy and shut up.

            I think even presidents are over their head when they get there. I doubt very much that Obama has any ability to change Iraq of Afghanistan policy. The idea that our vote can change those things is a bit idealistic.

            • True, but idealism can be a growing force. I’m not asking for anything more than an answer no politician has been able to articulate, and stay with.

              My fear is that my suspicion is correct. And my suspicion is that the answer from any honest politician (non sequitur much?) will be: I don’t know.

  3. Chuck

    Good for you Dugger. I challenge the staffer to take a moment to craft an original response to you.

  4. This didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not at all useful to ask slice-in-time questions of those who necessarily think in terms of process. It allows and invites the same venial answers to mortal questions. Jon never voted to go to war, but he won’t defund the brave troops or fail to back the President. Max and Denny never voted to go to war. They just voted to give the President the power to ‘defend us’.

    If you’re comfortable with never getting a coherent answer, then you should be asking the American people: Why are we *still* fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Mark’s answers are as good as any, but they are still every bit as pointless as “freedom”, “terror”, “democracy”. Regional power and corporate control of resource doesn’t explain anything about why the American people still allow this to happen. Bitter irony of it all is that assumption that most Americans don’t know about these reasons. Yes they do; the point is they don’t seem to care.

    • You’re acting as if you and I have some power which can cripple government action. We can vote, but so can others. Some citizens, I am sure, are for the wars and we’re going to feel their votes as well.

      To ask why the American people are allowing the wars to continue is pointless. We do not decide on conflicts of international consequence. We elect people for that, thus the title of republic. The vox populi is only cared for, and tended to during election years, if that.

      But that’s me being cynical and angry.

      Wulfgar, I am comfortable with never getting a coherent answer about the war from these politicians. And if that occurs,in giving a less than true answer — an emotionless form, or a sanitized quip — they will only show themselves for being unworthy of their elected titles. But I am holding out for truth, and honesty. I am hoping to get real answers from these men of power. I want to see what they think, and learn a bit of why they think that way.

      I want to know why the people representing Montana in the House and Senate of this nation, feel that billions of dollars, and thousands of lives, are worth spending on nations other than our own. I want to know why it is okay to take a son or daughter from a family.

      Maybe I’ll only get bullshit, and that’s okay. Sometimes, in my weaker moments, I fear that we’re a nation built on a foundation of bullshit. So hearing bullshit in response to my question is fine. I just want to hear it directly from them. I don’t want to see it in an AP story, or in a headline. I want these men to answer to us — those against and FOR the war. Because we’re not doing that. We’re rarely asking enough of those who lead us, even when it is the simplest of things. Even when the question is merely “Why?”

  5. JC

    “Why are we fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

    Take a step back from the particularity of the countries in question, and the specifics about geopolitics and resources, and revenge, and… and you get the simple fact that this is what imperialistic nations do: they build empire.

    The simple answer is that America is still building empire in the face of a catastrophic world economic collapse. And it will continue to build empire until it can no longer do so. Because when a hegemony begins to stabilize in terms of expansion, it is only a matter of time until it begins to crumble and decline.

    Another way to look at the question is to ask the corollary:

    “When is the last time America has fully withdrawn from a country it has successfully invaded?”

    The answer to this will lead you to the answer to the original question.

    • JC, that’s a fine analysis and ultimately may prove true. But it is what you think and feel. And I’m not saying I disagree with you. It’s just that what we think and feel about the war is just that: what WE think and what WE feel.

      What about them? Is that what Baucus thinks? Tester? Denny? Do these three men believe in a hegemony of expanding imperialist power pouring across the globe until it expands to great and collapses? Or, are they more idealistic about the wars?

      I respect your opinion man, I really do, but you cannot speak for these three men. Only they can. Neither you nor I, nor anyone, is equipped with the power to look into another’s heart, and that is what I want to know here:

      What do Max, Jon and Denny feel about the wars?

      • JC

        I hear you. It will be interesting to hear what, if anything they have to say.

        I know we all have our opinions. And the question is many layers deep. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the opinions of our elected legislators really matter any more. There’s no unanimity of will to get anything done anymore.

  6. I put my explanation up above without necessary pretext: I don’t presume for a second that we are ever told anything true about these affairs. It is always a cover story and underlying reality, so I don’t much trouble myself with the words of politicians. So Osama was a cover story for invading Afghanistan, just as WMD’s were a cover. One the troops are in place, we are told that we have to support them, no matter the lies it took to get them there. Nice scam.

    I also assume that there is so much power at work behind these affairs that political power, as that held by Senators, is dwarfed.

    I also don’t think that public opinion matters. Most energy in DC goes into managing our opinions, and not listening to them.

    But I’m a happy guy, in spite of all of this. I just want to understand events. That is fun.

  7. Hey this just gave me an idea of how we could cut some of that government waste they keep talking about (which never seems to include the cost of war.) Instead of mailing you the form letter, they should just post it on the website where it pops up when you choose the topic! Plus you’d receive your ration of canned shit even faster!

  8. Turner

    With regards to Iraq and Afghanistan, wars of occupation are necessary to maintain an empire. I think Wikileaks is about to do us all a great service by exposing just how ugly all this “diplomacy” and secret war-making is.

    Maybe our country is only as sick as its secrets.

    I can’t wait for Wikileak’s expose of a large American bank due in January.

  9. we still have bases in japan and germany…..

    65 years later.

    empire is not even a strong enough word for it…..


    maybe we need a new word to describe the american military’s appetite for conquest and world dominion…how about insane overkill?

    • The difference is that we’re not actively engaging in combat in Japan and Germany.

      • the point is that since 2006, certain politicians have not lifted one finger to get us out of either Iraq or Afghanistan. yet, according to the polls at the time, they were elected to end this.

        it seems that they have been co-opted or corrupted into supporting this country’s obviously intransigent imperialistic military-industrial paradigm and they are lost.

        i wish you luck in getting some straight answers and i think it is a useful exercise if for nothing else but to compare certain speeches that were made while on the stump to get said job with the answers you get.

        it is too bad that main stream media never seems to ask this obvious question. why?

      • But also understand that even though there have not been wars using occupation troops in either place, that the stated reasons for their presence is not the real reason they are there. There was never any danger that the USSR would invade western Europe (historically, the invasions always went the other direction). It was just part of a policy of expansion and encirclement of the countries that could not be conquered – Russia and China, and history marches on just like before. It’s the Great Game.

  10. lizard19

    asking why is like the proverbial snag in our national sweater— if we pull it the whole thing unravels.

    luckily lots of distractions prevent us from noticing the snag, like how the FBI literally gift wrapped a terrorism headline by cultivating some budding jihadist for over a year, and then presenting a fake bomb for him to attempt to detonate.

    it’s the easiest one word reply to the question Mr. Duganz has asked of his elected representatives.


    that’s all they have to say.

    and if they really want to drive it home, they can just add 9-11, and zap! duty done.

  11. Ingemar Johansson

    Here’s your first chance to contribute to Tester’s defeat.


  12. lets just see how much steam the tea party express has left after their guys fail them first swede.

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