Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Now more than ever, let's get out of Iraq.

Today on every front page of every major newspaper in the US are the pictures of Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menaca, whose bodies were found in Yasafiya, Iraq, near where they were kidnapped by al-Qaeda militants last Friday. The positive spin W. got out of his little sight seeing tour to the Green Zone in Baghdad and the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi didn't last long, did it?

Once again, the disconnect between the happy talk coming out of the White House and the pentagon and the horrible reality of the situation over there, which continually goes from one horrific atrocity to another even more horrific atrocity, has been brought into stark relief by this depressing incident.

The circumstances of the two soldiers deaths has yet to have been officially announced, but according to the Iraqi chief of operations at the Defense Ministry, Maj. General Abdul Azziz Mohammed Jassim, they were "killed in a very brutal torture" The US military spokesman, Maj. General William B. Caldwell, said the bodies were being sent back to the US for DNA testing because, he said, "we couldn't identify them."

A group calling itself the Mujahedeen Shura, which claims al-Qaeda as a member, said they had cut the throats of the soldiers, but there is some doubt as to the authenticity of the claim according to the NYT. As in most cases like this in Iraq, there's no telling who's really who. The US claims that al-Qaeda in Iraq has got a new leader, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, but some experts say he may not even really exist.

So who knows what's actually going on; but whoever did this, they showed a whole lot of military expertise and coordination in luring away the other soldiers in the Tucker's and Menaca's unit to leave them isolated enough to capture them and kill a third soldier, Specialist David J. Babineau in the process. Even after the military found the bodies Maj. General Caldwell told the press that it took US forces hours to get through a series of bloody traps and IEDs before they could retrieve the bodies. Doesn't sound like a group of "deadenders" demoralized by the killing of their leader to me.

One can not imagine what the families and friends of Pfc. Tucker and Pfc. Menaca must be feeling right now and my heart goes out to them. I also feel terribly sorry for the all the families of the more than 2,500 soldiers who have died so far in Iraq and the approximately 19,000 who have come home, some with their bodies broken and their minds damaged. There can be no words to adequately describe the suffering all these families are going through now and the pain which will always be with them for as long as they live. This entire mess is so tragic and was so unavoidable.

Although these barbaric and despicable murders are particularly hard to take, we must keep in mind that for the past three years, tens of thousands of Iraqi families have been suffering from similar horrible acts committed against their loved ones by these same deranged lunatics and butchers. Since January of this year alone, over 6000 Iraqis have died after being kidnapped, tortured and executed. This number does not include all those blown to pieces by the numerous car bombings in and around Baghdad, which occur on a daily basis.

We have to put an end to this cycle of violence. Today the Senate is debating a resolution proposed by John Kerry which calls for pulling US troops out of Iraq in a year, and I say it's not a moment too soon. Democrats need to stop being so skittish, grow a backbone and support Kerry's resolution. What are they so afraid of; Karl Rove repeating "cut and run” until his face turns blue? Pretty terrifying! Our fighting people over in Iraq are putting their lives on the line so a bunch of religious nuts can settle old scores from the 5th century. This is essentially the policy the GOP is supporting, isn't there anyone bright enough within the Democratic Party to articulate this fact to the American people?

It's excruciatingly apparent that Bush & CO. have pretty conclusively demonstrated that have absolutely no ability to extricate us out of the mess that they have so cavalierly got us into. 'Stay the course,' isn't a strategy, it's a slogan. John Kerry has a plan but apparently what his fellow Democrats want is a better slogan.

Let's stop crying crocodile tears for the poor Iraqi politicians and get down to brass tacks. The only people in Iraq who want an open-ended commitment by us to 'stay the course' are the ones who have thrown in with the invaders. Didn't you see the terrified look on Al-Maliki's face when he was sitting next to W., the man most Iraqis blame for the predicament they're in today. But, fear not, he and his Shiite co-religionists have huge militias armed with our weapons and know-how to protect them, I'm sure they'll be alright.

Here in the US, the only ones who want to keep sending our young people into the Iraqi meat-grinder over and over again are the Republicans in Congress who want to retain their cozy perks and prerogatives at tax payer expense. Does anyone seriously believe that Bill Frist or Dennis Hasstert gives a damn about fighting for democracy in Iraq? Hell, they won't even fight for it here. As each new revelation has come out about the president's full-bore assault on our cherished freedoms, the GOP has defended him more and more.

So, who are they trying to fool? This is all about getting re-elected and it's all a show. Meanwhile, the families of Kristian Menaca and Thomas Tucker have a life-time of grieving ahead of them.


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