Four More Dead in Iraq

Not that anybody seems to care anymore, but in the midst of all the carnage and destruction that signals an expanding civil war in Iraq, we lost four more soldiers yesterday. That brings the total of dead soldiers in this war to 2,284. Think about it–we’ve lost more soldiers in this war than we lost in the War of 1812 (where we had 2,260 dead soldiers), and we’re fast closing in on the total number lost in the Spanish-American War (2,456 dead).

 As Kos said, hopefully we’ll be gone from Iraq before the toll exceeds that of the Revolutionary War (4,435 dead). But those numbers do serve to boggle the mind. One tidy statistic that supporters of the war like to toss out is that we’ve “only” lost 2,284 (and about 16,000 more physical casualties–it’s hard to count those casualties of war that have fallen victim to illnesses like cancer or severe PTSD, which are every bit as devastating as losing a foot, say).

Fine, we’ve “only” lost 2,284 soldiers–so far*. But for what? What has their sacrifice–our sacrifice–gotten us? In the War of 1812, the very White House was torched and burnt to a cinder; and you can still see the marks of that desecration. In the Spanish-American War, we acquired new lands (including my homeland of Puerto Rico, which has paid a dear cost indeed in this war). And, should we approach that dread landmark and exceed the toll of the Revolutionary War, we can look to that war and say, we won our independence.

But what has been the prize won in the Iraq War? Freedom? You can’t have freedom without leave to walk down the street unmolested, which no one who has been to Iraq will claim. Besides, the various parties which are daily engaged in a quest for raw political power pledge only the faintest adherence to the ideals of liberty to which our fathers and mothers sacrificed their lives and sacred honor. Is that what we’re sacrificing for–so some Iraqi ward heeler can make a pale and poor approximation of Boss Daley or Boss Hague?

Raw resources? Oil production, from every estimate, is at best a pale shadow of what it was before our invasion. And even if it matched, never mind exceeded pre-war production, bringing it from the pumps of Kirkuk to the port of Houston is, at best, a dicey proposition indeed.

Security? For whom? And where? Iraqi children dare not walk to their neighborhood schools–the same schools supporters of this star-crossed adventure in missionary vainglory celebrate building–for fear of being snatched up in the stark light of day by a brigand seeking easy money in ransom.

And if we (and let us be clear, the “we” in this sentence should clearly and solely denote those of my fellow veterans who’ve worn desert tan, forest green, and navy blue–the vast majority of Americans aren’t sharing in our sacrifice) are truly fighting them there so we don’t fight them here, isn’t that assuming that the venial enemy we face lacks enough wit and imagination to bring the fight to our shores? And isn’t that assuming that there’s somehow a finite number of “terrorists” or “insurgents”? Finally, does not that line of thinking mock the selfless courage of our warriors, by holding them in Iraq (and Afghanistan, too) as simple, dumb bait, much as we bait the mousetrap with cheese?

For our sake; for our country’s sake, this adventure must cease.


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