Wednesday, March 19, 2008

5th Anniversary, Iraq war

As the anniversary of the Iraq war comes upon us, most likely millions of gallons of ink will be spilled in writing about the war. I hesitate to write anything - the world doesn't need one more blog or op-ed or anything. More gifted and talented writers than me are making good cases all over the world.

But, I write anyway. I told someone awhile back that I write this blog to clarify my thought. If someone else happens to read it, all well and good.

There will be those, who still believe the war was the right thing to do who will passionately argue their cause. There will be those who have always thought the war was bad foreign policy horribly executed who will argue their cause. There will be those on both sides who came to their respective positions after the war started.

And, if we are to believe recent reports about press coverage, and Americans knowledge of the current status of the war, most Americans won't care. It will be just one more round of stories in a noisy news cycle.

I think this is the saddest thing. What this apathy does is let the people who are running the war drive the coverage of the war. It lets them tell Americans exactly what they think Americans need to hear. How the war is going swimmingly. How the surge worked and how violence is down in Iraq (which of course lately has changed, but how that is just an anomaly, or a "blip"). How wonderful the lives of Iraqi's are now as compared to when they lived under the evil dictator, the modern day Hitler, Saddam Hussein. How you don't need to worry your pretty little head about it because all of us smart guys in Washington have it all figured out and are taking care of these little details for you. Go shopping, they tell us again - the sagging economy, which of course has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the war, and is not tied to it in any way needs that from you.

After five years, there is always talk about winning the war. Unfortunately also after five years, there is never any specifics as to what that really MEANS.

I also think what we need to really be asking is how this will affect us not NOW, but in 5 years?

Will we have a military that will be able to provide this country with even the most basic protection? Will we have a military that will be able to respond to any contingencies worldwide when the security of this country is ACTUALLY at stake?

Will we have a functioning National Guard that will be able to respond effectively to natural disasters such as Katrina?

Will we ever have an effective military again? Will young Americans want to continue to serve? Will we be able to afford to rebuild our military?

How long can we in good conscience keep sending the same Americans back to the war zone over and over and over and over? How long can we in good conscience keep asking their families to sacrifice?

Will our economy be strong in 5 years? Or will it be in tatters as the massive debt brought on by borrowing to finance the war keeps coming due?

What will our infrastructure be like (including our schools, hospitals, bridges, highways, electrical grid, etc) as we have to make choices between funding the war and taking care of our cities?

What will our social net look like as we have to make choices between continually funding the war and taking care of the most vulnerable here at home?

What will be the burden on our communities as the broken veterans who are already here and need specialized care, and the new ones still to be created, since the war is not ending any time soon look like?

Will we have the moral fortitude and decency to take care of our veterans in a way that they deserve to be taken care of? Or will we try to do it the same way we did the war - "on the cheap"?

Will those Americans who have bumper stickers that say "Support the troops" and ribbons on their car replace them as they fade from years and years and years of exposure to the sun? Or will they just crack up and fall off (or be scraped off) from inattention?

And the most important question of all - JUST WHEN WILL THIS WAR BE OVER?

And another important question - WHO GETS TO DECIDE WHEN IT'S OVER?

How long realistically can we sustain this war without it doing permanent, irreparable damage and fundamentally changing who we are as a country?

These are questions I want answers to. I do not believe however, that those answers are forthcoming any time soon.

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