By Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
11.12.18: Philadelphia – (Politics/Society): Outside of the heated tent on the lawn of the National Constitution Center, which on Sunday evening housed former U.S. President George W. Bush and wife, Laura, roughly two dozen protesters caused a cacophony.
“No awards for endless wars,” they shouted, as a bullhorn mimicked a siren. “Bush lied. People died,” was another refrain that competed against the ceremony’s staged speakers.
Mr. and Mrs. Bush were in Philadelphia on Veterans Day to receive the 2018 Liberty Medal, a distinguished award last year bestowed upon Mr. John McCain, the now deceased Republican Senator. But the demonstrators with About Face, a group of post-9/11 service members and veterans who are organizing to end a foreign policy of permanent war, declared the 43rd U.S. president as undeserving.
“I don’t think he understands that he destroyed the ancient part of human history in the Middle East and he’s displaced millions of millions of people. He’s destroyed so many lives, not just abroad, but here at home,” said
Mr. Jamie Kwebetchou, who traveled from his home state of Maryland to attend the rally.
On September 18th, 2001, then-President Bush signed into law a joint resolution authorizing the use of force against those responsible for attacking the United States on 9/11. Less than a month later, the U.S military officially launched Operation Enduring Freedom, which began with air strikes on al-Qaeda and Taliban forces.
Seventeen years later, troops continue to be deployed to Afghanistan, in what’s now the longest war in America’s history.
“Every morning at 7’oclock, I have my staff contact the Defense Department. I want to know exactly how many men and women have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq … every single one of them leaves behind a whole community,” said former Vice President Joe Biden, prior to him presenting Mr. Bush with the medal.
In his remarks, Mr. Bush didn’t mention the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. Though, he did say that in the decade since leaving the White House, he has befriended many veterans, especially those who enlisted post 9/11.
A Marine Corp veteran named Shantel, who’s also affiliated with About Face, said it disturbed her that the second worst president in history was being honored.
“If George Bush can be awarded, so can our current president. He is responsible as much as the people in this tent for endless war,” she shouted moments before the ceremony began.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump in 2017 said his original instinct was to pull out of the war. However, he ultimately decided to pursue an open-ended military commitment to prevent the emergence of a vacuum for terrorist. In a 2017 exclusive interview with NBC News, Gen. John Nicholson, a four-star Army general, said the war in Afghanistan had been a stalemate, but that Mr. Trump’s new strategy, which included the deployment of new troops, has reversed a decline in the U.S position.
Mr. Kwebetchou was discharged in May after he refused orders to deploy. The Air Force veteran said after meeting folks in Europe, Libya and Afghanistan who were affected by the war, and learning of the military industrial complex, he couldn’t come back home and participate in a system that’s murdering people indiscriminately.
When asked of Mr. Bush’s legacy, Mr. Kwebetchou said: “it’s buried in the Middle East.”
Thanks for reading! Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® and I’m Drumming for Justice!™
Author’s bio: Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris is an award-winning journalist, online content producer and professional drummer currently serving as the CEO of Techbook Online, a Philadelphia-based news and event company, and the host of the Drumming for Justice podcast. Subscribe here.
Photo Credit: C. Norris – ©2018