It was almost too much to stomach finding out about the grim milestone of 4000 deaths in the Iraq war during the same weekend Christians celebrated the resurrected Lord Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Of course, then the standard journalistic cliche comes into play in all the articles that compared to the timeline and violence of other wars, this one is not too bad (then they list statistics like 58,000 or so killed in Vietnam, etc). I'm sure that the families and friends of those 4000 killed are not necessarily thinking that way. Are we so dull that we really believe that line? That we're getting a good deal because not as many Americans have been killed?
Some time before we all found out this grim statistic, the Vice President in an interview with Martha Raddatz, was asked, essentially if he cared what Americans thought of the war, and the worthiness of Americas participation in it. At the end of her line of questioning, he basically told her "So"? As in, I really don't give a crap what the American people think or say. Then he launched into a diatribe about not paying attention to polls, and, just for good measure he compared the Bush administration to President Lincoln during the civil war.
Below is a pretty good op-ed by Mickey Edwards in the Washington Post. I included Mr. Edwards bio on Wikipedia, lest it is thought that he is some wild-eyed ranting liberal America hater (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mickey_Edwards). Looks to me like this is a guy with SOLID Conservative credentials.
Mr. Edwards points out that "It is the people who should decide whether the nation shall go to war. That is not a radical, or liberal, or unpatriotic idea. It is the very heart of America's constitutional system."
He goes on to say that "In Europe, before America's founding, there were rulers and their subjects. The Founders decided that in the United States there would be not subjects but citizens. Rulers tell their subjects what to do, but citizens tell their government what to do"
He doesn't really go far enough in talking about past history. He should also say that despots and dictators in all times and places took their countries to war and KEPT their countries at war without regard to the opinions or desires of the people. And when pressed on it, they usually tried to make it look like they were actually doing the people's bidding.
As 4000 of our finest young Americans are now dead, we should be always asking questions of our government. As Mr. Edwards points out, essentially THEY work for US. A lot of Americans don't really believe this in their hearts, as we've been kowtowed and beaten down and convinced that the people in Washington are smarter than us, and that they really have our best interests at heart, and that since we don't have the money and the power, we have no say in the matter.
The questions we need to be asking, and more importantly ANSWERING:
Are we really a safer country than we were when the Iraq war started? Are we a BETTER country than when the Iraq war started (in terms of nobility, and bravery and honor, and overall standing and perception in the world)? Would this war REALLY prevent any terrorist attacks on the United States? How much longer are we going to send good men and women to their deaths? How much longer are we going to make a small, thin slice of the population sacrifice?
What does it mean to "win" ? Who gets to decide how long we stay in Iraq? What is the criteria to determine if we've "won"?
Has it really been worth it in terms of blood and treasure? Will it have been worth it if it fundamentally changes who we are as a people, and not in a good way?
These are questions I've asked (and others have certainly asked them as well, much more eloquently than me) over and over without expecting any real answers from our "leadership".
It would be tragic if we were still asking these same questions as the counter rolls to 5000 or 6000 or more wouldn't it?