Monday, September 10, 2007

Thoughts on the Iraq War

As rhetoric accelerates in anticipation of the Petraeus report, the "debate" (if the never-ending series of name-calling and fear-mongering can be called a debate) seems to have reached a new level of surrealism. The Democrats have been conducting a full-on pre-emptive strike on the forthcoming report for the past few days, without so much as a shred of evidence or logic.

As I consider the war in Iraq (and the greater War on Terror), I have noticed some glaring omissions in the discussion. According to the story linked above, 35% of Americans now approve on the surge (up from 27%). How are these Americans coming to their conclusions? What additional items might help foster more well-informed opinions. Here is my list of things I want to know before I decide what to think about the Iraq War:

1. What do the troops think about the war? I understand that there is actually a waiting list for military personnel who want to go fight in Iraq. Perhaps it could be argued that these "newbies" don't fully understand the horrors of war. However, it might also speak to the deeply-held patriotism and faith in the spirit of our great country to be found in these bravest of citizens. If the troops support the war, shouldn't we?

2. What is the score? We hear about deaths of American soldiers in 10's and 20's. Without a doubt, each and every loss of a soldier in war is tragic. But a little context would make their sacrifice much more meaningful. So how many "insurgents" or terrorists were killed or captured last week? Finally, we got a small glimpse of this number from President Bush last month. He said that we have averaged about 1,500 EVERY MONTH since January. How many did the terrorists get? Five or six? To me, it looks like we're winning in a big, big way.

3. Anything "good" happening over there? The news overflows with negative reporting--car bomb here, civilian casualty there, groups of people shouting and burning American flags. A steady diet of this might easier convince even rational, sane people that it's a hopeless situation. However, what are we not hearing about? Many, many good things are happening every day. Much of Iraq lives in relative peace and security (certainly this is the case when compared to the situation of terror under Saddam). The standard of living has shot through the roof, and the war isn't even over yet! Where is all the good news?

4. What will happen if we quit? No one ever seems to consider this. People seem to think once our troops all come home, everyone will live happily ever after. That's not quite how it happened the last time we cut and ran (Vietnam). Tragedy on a massive scale ensued, and our reputation as a world power was permanently damaged. The region itself suffered from the destabilization and Communism got a second wind. Do we really want all that to happen again? The stakes are even higher now.

As we approach the sixth anniversary of 9-11, let's all take a moment to ponder the situation in Iraq in light of all the facts. The War on Terror is the defining issue of our time. We simply cannot quit, cannot surrender, cannot lose. Let's support the troops AND the war.


Travis said...

Your second point is especially poignant (not that the others are off-base). Given the never-ending update on number of American lives lost, some context is much needed.

Philip said...

It's even more astounding when compared with the friendly v. enemy death ratio of previous conflicts and wars. This war's ratio is unprecedentedly low. Just think about D-Day or Iwo Jima... And yet, even those relatively huge sacrifices were worth it. The current war is worth it, too; only the difference is that we are winning it at the cost of many fewer lives.