Monday, November 19

U.S. troops, not war, merit public support


Now that thousands of American troops have entered Iraq, the
face of the war debate has changed. Americans must now show support
for the country’s troops, not because they support the war,
but because they appreciate the fact that fellow human beings are
placing themselves in harm’s way for a war they might not
fully support themselves or even understand.

When a country’s top officials make decisions, someone has
to execute those decisions, even when they are wrong. The men and
women serving in Iraq represent the bravery President George W.
Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney never had: both men
side-stepped their obligation to the United States as young men
during the Vietnam War. Bush’s national guard unit was not
called to duty, but he took a yearlong leave of absence just in
case. And Cheney received multiple deferments so he would never
have to stand on the front lines.

The support the country needs to demonstrate for the troops,
however, should not be converted into blind jingoism and approval
of the Bush administration.

The war’s start does not mitigate the need for its
justification. Why the United States is focusing the brunt of its
anti-terror efforts on Iraq (suspected terrorists) versus al Qaeda
(known terrorists), and why the United States is attacking Iraq
(which possibly holds nuclear weapons material) instead of North
Korea (which constantly flaunts actual nuclear facilities), are
questions the administration has chosen to answer with distracting
propaganda rather than satisfactory, specific details.

Bush and Cheney’s own motives have been called into
question by suspicious business practices. Halliburton Co., the
company whose former chief executive officer was Cheney himself,
has been awarded a lucrative contract to rebuild oil refineries in
Iraq. Halliburton will not say how much the contract is for, but
it’s safe to say business is booming, especially since they
were also awarded a contract to rebuild oil refineries after Bush
senior’s Persian Gulf War. The two men may be shy about
fighting for their country, but they are not shy when corporate
interests are at stake.

The only way the United States is projected to end the war and
complete its objectives in Iraq is by sending ground troops into
Baghdad and moving through urban populations street by street.
History indicates urban warfare has one of the highest casualty
rates of any type of fighting. And with Hussein’s Republican
Guard likely to use chemical and biological weapons on troops who
near Baghdad, the war could be more harmful to U.S. forces than the
American public expected. The best Americans, Iraqis and even those
who oppose the war can hope for is a quick resolution without heavy
casualties and with humanitarian aid to help Iraq recover for long
after the war is over.

Those who have protested the war from the beginning should not
relent: though advocating against war in Iraq seems like a dead
issue because the war is already well under way, Bush should not
have the satisfaction of a complacent, defeated public. Protesting
the war while it is in progress with the same energy as before it
started will send a clear message of discontent Bush will have to
deal with before starting another war or bidding for
reelection.

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