January 14, 2004

Why Is My Son Being Sent To Iraq?

The last 48 hours have been among the most depressing
in the history of the "US mainstream news media." Consider the facts: the _resident's former Treasury Secretary has questioned his leadership and competency as well as his motivations for the war in Iraq, Karen Kwiatowski (a Pentagon insider) has written a shocking eye-witness account of the Bush cabal's propaganda machine and its "intelligence" fabrication in the ramp up to the war in Iraq, the Army War College has published a scathing rebuke of the _resident's "war on terrorism" itself, Kevin Phillips (a Nixon/Reagan activist) has turned out a hard-hitting political history of the Bush family, which focues on its intimate relationship with the Saudis in general and the Bin Laden family in particular, retired Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark (D-NATO) has declared that the _resident dropped the ball on Al-Qaeda prior to 9/11 and demanding an investigation of why and how we went to war in Iraq...These stories are not disparate, they are not unrelated, they are not seperate from each other, aggregated with other stories (e.g. the blood of almost 500 US soldiers so far, the revelations of Joseph Wilson, Rand Beers, Richard Clarke and others, the Plame affair, the death of Dr. Kelly, the absence of WMD in Iraq, etc.) they should form a "perfect storm" politically, BUT the "US mainstream news media" is obediently following Rove's select story lines: the _resident "embracing our neighbors to the North and South," the _resident throwing billion dollars at Mars and marriage...Here is the truth...

Alex Bellotti, Jr., Intervention Magazine: "Since the end of major combat, our young men are still dying over there, and I can't really comprehend why. I don't know why President Bush sent our men there in the first place. I don't know why the president was so dead-set against letting U.N. weapons inspectors finish their job there. I want to know why."

Article & Essay: Why Is My Son Being Sent To Iraq?

Unable to understand the mission in Iraq, a father
who is a miltiary veteran asks why is my son being
sent to that war?
By Alex Bellotti Jr

I saw my son off to the war in Iraq, at 7:30 a.m.
Monday. So far it is the hardest thing I have had to
do as a parent.

It is a war the American people have been told is
over, but it is a war nonetheless. I know -- it's now
more of a "police action." That's what the Vietnam War
was called for some time. But we don't refer to
Vietnam as a police action today -- we call it "the
Vietnam War." Nearly 60,000 Americans lost their lives
there before we left in disgrace.

It is a war that we have 130,000 American troops
engaged in, a quarter of them guardsmen or reservists.
With the deployment that includes my son, the
proportion will increase to 40 percent of the U.S.
force in Iraq. It is a war, where guardsmen are
carrying an increasing toll in casualty numbers. As
the Associated Press reported on New Year's Day,
two-thirds of all the casualties in Iraq have been men
and women in their 20s. A quarter of them have been

My son is 20-year-old PFC Christopher Bellotti, one of
180 soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 107th Field
Artillery Regiment, of Pennsylvania's Army National
Guard, in Pittsburgh. Like many of today's guardsmen
and reservists, Christopher joined the 107th for the
educational benefits. Pennsylvania and The National
Guard offered full tuition reimbursement to any state
institution of higher education. Thoughts of serving
the state during times of crisis, plus the idea of
being on a "big gun" crew and actually firing them
(and the attractive signing bonus), sealed his fate.
When he enlisted at the age of 17 while still in high
school, we were told that chances of his unit being
deployed were very slim. After all, the 107th had not
been called up since Korea -- another war that was not
a war.

There are three other boys from our old Beechview
neighborhood in Christopher's unit: One of them, Bobby
Hillen, is the young father of a newborn baby girl --
a daughter who won't see her father for a year and a

Since the end of major combat, our young men are still
dying over there, and I can't really comprehend why. I
don't know why President Bush sent our men there in
the first place. I don't know why the president was so
dead-set against letting U.N. weapons inspectors
finish their job there. I want to know why.

I know all of the officially stated reasons: Iraq had
weapons of mass destruction and would use them; Saddam
Hussein was a cruel and evil dictator who murdered
tens of thousands of his own people; he had to be
removed from power to make the world safer. But when
Donald Rumsfeld, as a special envoy for the Reagan
administration, traveled to Iraq in 1984, the United
States was eager to improve relations with Saddam,
despite his use of chemical weapons against his own
countrymen, the Kurds, and in spite of Congress'
condemnation of the use of those weapons. Where was
our concern about a safe world then?

I have heard too many things that just don't add up,
and I don't believe for one minute that this has made
the world safer. In this world of color-coded security
alerts and spiraling worldwide terrorist attacks, I
certainly do not feel safer.

I don't deny the world is indeed better off without
Saddam Hussein. But there are many other countries
with just as cruel and evil leaders. The United States
has no qualms cozying up to other despots in the
region, as in Uzbekistan, whose prisons are filled
with thousands of political prisoners, and people are
jailed and tortured oftentimes for simply practicing
their religion. Will we have to deal with our mistakes
in countries such as Uzbekistan in another 20 years,
just as we are dealing with our mistakes in Iraq now?

And do we not have a world organization -- the United
Nations -- formed to provide peacekeeping and
peacemaking assistance, humanitarian aid and the
protection of human rights around the world? The
United Nations is not perfect, but it is the best
thing we have. As one of the original founding
countries of the United Nations, we must adhere to its
bylaws. We can not choose when to follow the United
Nations' mandates and when not to. This is not

I have heard all of the arguments against my beliefs,
and been called many things, among them unpatriotic.
They don't take into account, or choose to ignore
that, when called, I served my country in the Army
from 1972 to 1975. I was one of the lucky ones. I
received orders for duty in Vietnam, only to have
those orders rescinded because our government was
pulling soldiers out by then.

I have been told I should be proud of my son, the
implicaton being that I am not. I could not be more
proud of him. I am proud of the man my son has grown
up to be. I am proud of the deep sense of humanity and
humility he possesses in his heart. I am proud of his
devotion to his family, and his unwavering sense of
humor. And I am proud that he saw fit to join the
National Guard, answering the call of his state and
country, as every able American should. But I am not
proud of my government asking him to do something I do
not believe in.

He is not in Iraq yet. His unit was sent to Fort Dix
for a training period of only 30 to 45 days, where
they will be retrained as military policemen, before
entering Iraq. And while I know in my heart that his
orders won't be rescinded as mine were, I can only
hope and pray that his stay in Iraq will be a short
and safe one. But in the back of my brain remains that
one nagging unmentionable doubt.

And while this chapter ends, another chapter arrives.

As we -- the family and friends of our young and
not-so-young soldiers -- watched them board the three
charter buses and drive away from Hunt Armory, the
unspeakable silence we were all feeling was briefly
broken as we clapped for these, our brave sons and
husbands and fathers.

Alex Bellotti Jr., a U.S. Army veteran and native of
Pittsburgh, is a writer and photographer living in
Harrisburg, PA. To email your comments to Alex, chick

Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2004

Posted by richard at January 14, 2004 12:21 PM