Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Iraq from 50,000 feet.

Today the Inquirer published a column by Maj. Kevin Kelly, an F-14 fighter pilot with the New Jersey Air National Guard who is currently deployed in Iraq. He writes of the great pride he feels to be serving with all the brave soldiers fighting day-in-and-day-out to secure freedom for the Iraqi people. I share his feeling of pride in our fighting people wherever they're deployed overseas and this is precisely why I think we should bring those the troops home from Iraq as quickly as possible. It may have been a "spectacularly good thing to get rid of Saddam Hussein and his rapist heirs," but that great mission was accomplished over three years ago. Why are we still there now? Why are good men and women with their whole futures ahead of them still dying every day in Iraq? And in his flights over Iraq everyday has the Major been able to find any evidence of WMD, because I thought that was the reason stated by our "war president" for the invasion in the first place.

Since there never were any WMD, the rationale for our continued presence in Iraq has shifted to "helping the Iraqis with their fledgling democracy." Is this cause "righteous" enough for us to remain in Iraq for as long as our forces have been in Germany, Japan and South Korea? Is it worth our blood and treasure to keep 133,000 U.S. troops in harm's way for as long as it takes the various religious and tribal factions to settle their century's old blood feuds? Is Maj. Kelly asking the future mothers of America to possibly sacrifice their son's and daughter's lives to secure a democratically elected theocracy led by Muktada al-Sadr?

The "vast majority" of Iraqis may be grateful to us that we saved them from Saddam Hussein and his brutal regime, but they're certainly not grateful to us now for our seemingly endless military presence there. Our occupation has inadvertently killed perhaps a 100,000 Iraqis and the country is vastly worse off now then it was before we arrived. Iraq now has an infant mortality rate higher than that of Haiti, it has less electricity, less potable water, rampant violence and a total lack of security; which keeps children at home and not at school for fear of being blown up or kidnapped. Is all of this pain and suffering we've inflicted really "among the noblest things we have ever done?"

A growing number of Iraqis, hundreds of whom are dying every week in the cross-fire of our noble cause to bring them democracy ---a democracy that their leaders clearly don't want --- are increasingly seeing us as the enemy, not the insurgents. We may not be "intimidated by bullets," but neither are the insurgents. We cannot "win" a war against an enemy who is willing to blow himself up to drive us out of his homeland. Unless we are willing to suffer an equal amount of casualties in a decade's long struggle for Iraqi "democracy," which the American people are not, we should take the rose colored glasses off and face the reality of the situation.

Retired Lt. General Gregory Newbold recently said that the decision to invade Iraq "was done with a casualness and swagger that is the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--- or bury the results." If Maj. Kelly truly believes Iraqi democracy is worth all the blood and flag-draped coffins, I would suggest he put his money where his rhetoric is and sign up for an infantry deployment.


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