Saturday, June 17, 2006

Happy Father's Day – Now, Let's Get Out of Iraq!

To all of the fathers out there -- Happy Day! Enjoy your cards, special meals and Home Depot gift cards. I wish my dad was here for a big bear hug! (FYI: my dad is "here," he just isn't here.)

I was thinking this morning about all of those fathers with sons or daughters serving in Iraq, and most especially the 2500+ fathers whose children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. My prayers today are with the fathers of the two soldiers presumably kidnapped by insurgents a couple of days ago. Can the fear and uncertainty of what is happening with your child (even if he is a soldier) be a worse situation for any parent?

I've never been a father, so I don't know what it feels like to have a child much less lose a child. I am, however, reminded of an episode of the HBO series SIX FEET UNDER in which a baby dies. One of the characters asks (and I’m paraphrasing):

If a child loses a parent, he or she is said to be orphaned. If a woman loses her husband or a man loses his wife, they are said to be widowed. But what is it called when a parent loses a child? Is the concept so terrible that there is no word to describe it?

For someone who has been vocally against the war in Iraq from its inception – even when it was called “unpatriotic” by many to do so – I want all of those fathers (and mothers and wives and husbands and brothers and sisters and grandparents and other family members and friends and colleagues…) who have lost their soldier overseas to understand that I grieve with you. This may be a personal loss for you, but the potential your son or daughter might have brought through a life well-lived diminishes us all.

I also want you to know that I will continue to advocate a complete and immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. And I do so in the memory of all our fallen service men and women.

We do not serve our country or the memory of our fallen war heroes by continuing to put young people in harm’s way simply to preserve an unjust war – and make no mistake, this is an unjust war. Why is the Iraqi conflict an unjust war for the US? For starters: (1) It was not waged as a last resort to all other non-violent options, as weapons inspectors from around the world were already engaged in Iraq in a search for any possible WMDs and should have been allowed to continue their work; (2) it is not being fought with the moral authority of a willing coalition of world leaders, but rather by one nation and a small contingent of a few troops coerced by foreign support payments; and (3) it is not being fought to redress a wrong suffered, as Iraq had nothing to do the 911 attack (which our leaders did know, but chose not to acknowledge, at the time of the start of the war). [For more on a Just War, see]

Don’t give me the “cut and run” argument – that’s just a convenient sound bite to keep the meek and clueless at bay. And it is dumb. If the widgets a company is making aren’t selling, they stop making widgets and start making something that will sell; when a broadcast network has a show no one is watching, they change the programming; and when a restaurant has a menu item that makes their patrons turn their noses up, they replace it. Are these businesses “cutting and running” on their business plans? Aren't businesses supposed to respond to market forces in the best interests of their investors?

Why shouldn’t we expect our government leaders to make the same kind of informed decision that any responsible business leader would make? If we had a President with any balls he would do what is right – discontinue his failed Iraqi policies and deploy our finite number of troops to the true hotspots around the world. Given enough time, the captain of the Titanic would have tried to steer clear of that iceberg. Should we expect less from our President in the two and a half years left in his term?

Besides, Iraq is on the cusp of a civil war. Why are we pretending that it is not so? And why are we attempting to put together a puppet government that will for years require our presence and money to prop it up? (Remind me again of the oil income that will offset the costs of this war!) It may be politically incorrect to say so, but maybe we should let just let the Iraqis fight it out. Let’s not fool ourselves; it is going to happen at some point anyway. Let there be a huge number of casualties, a great deal of suffering, and then let it be over. Because in the meantime there are tens of thousands of Iraqis being murdered and terrorized without a resolution and our service men and women are sitting ducks in this desert shooting gallery. Enough!

Bottom line: Continuing the deployment of troops in Iraq foolishly wastes our resources – human and financial – and does not give meaning to the lives and memories of those soldiers already killed. Staying the course is simply inflicting an unnecessary tragedy on another soldier's family. I’d like to think that next Father’s Day fewer new families will be suffering the loss of their loved one. Let’s leave Iraq now!

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