Many have written about the profound effect of personalizing the war in Iraq, and how this experience has been unexpectedly moving and emotional.
Recently, I have been thinking about the intellectual challenge that this personalization poses. I think it’s fair to say that most participants (certainly, not all) have been opposed to this war for a very long time. Yet, here we are attempting to more closely identify with soldiers who volunteered their futures and their very lives to serve our country with pride, patriotism and a sense of duty. Many of them, perhaps most, believed that the war in Iraq was necessary.
As many of you are discovering, the testimonials of friends and family left bereft by the loss of their loved ones reveal individual characteristics that are easy for us to identify with: a caring nature, a dedicated friend, an easy smile, a quick wit. And yet, we must often comes to terms with a divide, a belief on their part that serving their country in Iraq was a calling of the highest order, that the Iraq War was a just war.
For me, the issue becomes the essence of what it means to “support the troops.” No matter what differences I might have with a soldier serving in Iraq when it comes to the War itself, I admire their commitment, their courage, their pride and their unfailing sense of duty to their Commander-in-Chief.
George W. Bush. Commander-in-Chief. This man commands the devotion of honest men and women and can send them to be wounded, maimed, killed in the name of defending and protecting freedom and democracy. At a minimum, we have a right to expect that the reasons for exercising power of that scope be clear, that the decision making process be open, and that all avenues of diplomacy be exhausted before our young men and women – and their families – are asked to make the sacrifices required by war.
The truth about Iraq and the Bush Administration is slowly surfacing. There were no WMD’s. There were no links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. This was a war that was fabricated on intelligence that was known to be false or highly suspect. And, worst of all, no one seems to have the slightest idea of how we extricate ourselves from a bloodbath that has already claimed the lives of 3,400 U.S. servicemen and women and somewhere between 64,000 and 69,850 Iraqis.
There isn’t a monument or a memorial large enough to inscribe that many names upon, but President Bush and the members of his administration who have supported and promoted this war under a veil of secrecy and lies, will carry the deep shame of those names with them forever.