The Iraq war is five years old. It has lasted longer than both World Wars, longer even than our Civil War. As of March 12, it had claimed the lives of 3,987 servicemen and women, including almost 400 Texans. There is no definitive accounting of how many Iraqis have died, but the number is likely greater than 600,000, according to the British medical journal The Lancet. To get a sense of how obscene that figure truly is, consider that in the Vietnam War, which dragged on for eight years, as many as 67 Vietnamese died for every American casualty. In Iraq, it’s averaging about 151-to-1.
Why do we continue this barbarous war?
The hollowness of its justifications has long since been laid bare. Only crackpots still talk seriously about Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction. The whole freedom thing, as Poppy Bush would say, has hardly panned out. Iraq is rocky soil for the seeds of participatory democracy, leaving aside the lunacy of foreigners trying to impose it by force of arms. The conflict has left America’s reputation in the world in tatters.
Just as the war against terrorism will never end with a peace treaty, it will never be won by sacrificing our liberties to a government that believes torture and the invasion of its citizens’ privacy are legitimate, even essential, tactics.
It’s time to end this unconscionable war and honor our men and women in uniform by bringing them home. Perhaps we have not done so yet because, for most Americans, the costs have been too easy to bear.
For most. Not for those who’ve lost, or been too long separated from, loved ones. Not the 31,000 wounded veterans. Not those forever physically and mentally scarred.
The hundreds of billions of tax dollars sucked into this fiasco could have made us safer, smarter, healthier. It could have rebuilt bridges, protected our kids from poisonous food and toys, and helped us find workable energy alternatives to $100-a-barrel Mideast oil. But there is no draft driving youth into the streets, and many fail to make the connection that the money lost on this foreign adventure could have improved their lives.
It is time for Congress and presidential candidates alike to show some spine.
Mark Twain famously said, “An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.”
This peace will certainly be inglorious. A messy outcome was made inevitable by this incompetent and corrupt administration, but quicken to it we must. Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain frightens us all with his frank, and frankly believable, observation that the war in Iraq could entrap U.S. military forces for the next 100 years or more. Bush fortifies our embassy in Baghdad at a cost of $592 million and signs accords with the Iraqi government intended to maintain our presence there long after he leaves office.
What would Molly do? Our dear friend and former editor, Molly Ivins, has been much in our thoughts these days. (Molly would have reveled in poking fun at the political carnival that is the Democratic presidential primary.) Fortunately, she left some still powerful words for us to follow.
“We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest … We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!'”