Heroic Troops, Misguided Leaders
Wednesday - December 20, 2006
The photograph in the paper was a reminder that, for some, Christmas will be a time of everlasting grief. Five helmets, five sets of combat boots, rifles and dog tags lined up in a row, the young men who had worn them all dead now, victims of a roadside bomb.
These men, Sgt. Joshua Madden, Pfc. Travis Krege, Sgt. Jesse Castro, Spc. Yari Mokri and Cpl. Jason Huffman, leave behind families who face Christmas - and lifetimes - without a husband, father, son or brother. Their families may not say it in public, but at least a few of them must be asking themselves some agonizing questions. Why their loved one?
And many more Americans are asking, why this war? If history shows America’s involvement in Iraq was a huge and tragic blunder, does it diminish the meaning of these men’s sacrifice?
Of course not.
The men and women who are giving up so much to fulfill their duty are heroes. They go where the rest of us dare not, because they took an oath to serve and this is where they’re being asked to serve.
But the “Schofield 5” are gone. So are nearly 3,000 other American men and women who died serving in Iraq. And so are tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children who met violent ends in the “new” Iraq.
We have a moral obligation to do what we can for the Iraqi people. Pulling the troops out hastily says to them and to the world, “we got you into this mess, now it’s up to you to get yourselves out.”
Shame on us.
However - and here’s the true tragedy of the Iraq war - it might be too late. What if, despite any action we take, the country cannot stop its spiral into chaos?
Many people, myself included, think it’s already there. The thousands of Iraqis who are fleeing the country and the others left behind living in fear know this to be true. President Bush clings to the idea that if we leave, we lose. Too late, Mr. President. No matter how you define winning, it’s not an option anymore.
Which leaves us ... where? The president says he will postpone any new policy decisions on Iraq until after the Christmas and New Year holidays. These things, he says, require sober deliberations and can’t be rushed.
Well, I guess that means he has learned a thing or two since rushing us into war in 2003.
But in the meantime, people are dying. As we head into Christmas, let us not forget our troops. They and their families bear huge burdens this season, and it feels wrong to go about our business without acknowledging and saluting their sacrifices.
Merry Christmas. But peace on earth? Not this year.
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