War in Iraq

To the hard-core right-wing son of a life-long Republican who waves a flag on the Fourth of July but is thoroughly uninitiated in matters of American foreign policy, there a war going on in Iraq and that’s about all that matters. “The world is better off without Saddam Hussein,” this person says, parroting President George Bush. “I support the president and our troops,” he tells anyone who asks for his view. His car is American made, he hates unions, he despises rap music and he rages against immigrants who come into America with no “green card.”

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Then there is the 9-to-5 blue collar worker who is not affiliated with any political party, who finished high school (barely) and is totally disinterested in American politics. He doesn’t vote, he cares little about current events in the world and who isolates himself at home after work, sitting down in front of a big plasma screen – drinking beer and watching DVDs and movie channels each evening. To this person, the conflict currently going on in Iraq means little more than something else that has gone wrong with the “system.” He supports the president, because the president must know something that the rest of us don’t know.

But to the young college sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, whose dad served in Vietnam, losing his left leg, and whose brother died in Iraq – the victim of a car bomb in Baghdad – this war is “unacceptable.” This student sees that 105 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq last month, and that as of the end of October, 2006, some 2,819 soldiers have been killed in Iraq. The U.S. estimate for civilians killed in Iraq is around 50,000, but a recent independent report puts that number at upwards of 500,000 civilians killed.

And why have all these people died? To what end do American troops continue to put their lives on the line in Iraq? When President Bush began building up the argument to go to war in Iraq, it was less than a year after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Upwards of 70% of Americans polled in late 2002 and early 2003 were behind him, according to UPI (Hess, 2006). The president and his administration gave speeches promising the American people that huge caches of “weapons of mass destruction” were being manufactured by Hussein’s war machine, and if America didn’t go in there and destroy those weapons, they would be used against Israel and perhaps even the U.S.

The Bush Administration also asserted in the United Nations and throughout the United States in speeches – which were widely broadcast on television and reported in print media – that Saddam Hussein was developing a nuclear capability, and that he was a definite threat to world peace. The time to go in and dismantle his war machine was now, Bush insisted.

But now, nearly four years after the invasion of Iraq, with nearly 3,000 American casualties and over $380 billion having been spent (Sidoti, 2006), less than 40% of Americans support the war. No weapons of mass destruction have been found. No evidence of any nuclear program Hussein was alleged to have launched has been found. And recently the U.S. intelligence agencies reported that the war in Iraq has created more terrorists, and that we are not any safer now than we were in 2001 after 9/11.

Moreover, the American people are clearly fed up with what they see on television from Iraq: a) there is now a civil war going on between rival ethnic factions, and dozens of innocent civilians are kidnapped and/or slaughtered every day; the U.S. involvement has exacerbated this bloodletting; b) images of American prison abuses and torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq are a sickening reminder to the world – whether true or not – that the U.S. is anti-Muslim and that the U.S. is ignoring Geneva Convention with regards to prisoners of war.

And with all this terrible news, and the war obviously out of control, and U.S. soldiers basically sitting ducks for insurgent car bombs and brazen attacks by Islamic militants, with Bush wiretapping Americans without a warrant, what is the Pentagon doing to make things right? They are updating their “public affairs apparatus” and blaming the media for “not making the case” for the Administration, according to an article by United Press International.

And while the Pentagon builds a bigger public affairs office and tries harder to shape the news, President Bush is out campaigning, telling his audiences that a vote for Democrats is basically support for the terrorists. That is a vicious, evil charge to make, just to keep the war going.

This war is wrong, it is expensive, too many soldiers and innocent civilians have been killed, and it is time for Bush to admit that leaving Iraq is the only sensible answer. That will be hard for him; but those who remember his arrogance in May, 2003, when he flew in a Navy jet onto an aircraft carrier to celebrate “Mission Accomplished” can see the same arrogance now as he refused to admit that the Iraq war was a disastrous and very costly misadventure.

Works Cited

Hess, Pamela. “Pentagon late to the information war.” United Press International. Retrieved 1 Nov. 2006 at http://www.upi.com.

Reuters. “Factbox – Military and Civilian Deaths in Iraq. Retrieved 2 Nov. 2006 at http://www.alertnet.org.

Sidoti, Liz. “Analysis: Iraq war dominates campaign.” Associated Press. Retrieved 1 Nov. 2006 from http://www.mercurynews.com.