Reality and Iraq
Today's front page of my local newspaper features a photo showing a GI crouching in front of an Iraqi house. He's equipped with an automatic weapon and hi-tech gadgetry unlike anything I ever knew when I was a soldier during World War II. Just a foot or two away from the GI, a small boy squats on the ground, seemingly oblivious to the soldier's presence. The wheel of a bicycle or baby carriage can be seen in the courtyard.
I assume that the soldier's mission is to find terrorists--Sunni insurgents or Shiite militia members. But how will he know whether those he encounters are friends or foes unless he's fired upon? And if he is attacked, how he is supposed to react with the child innocently sitting so close to him?
There is a sense of absolute unreality about the photo. I study the photo and feel that it reflects the Bush Administration's own basic lack of reality as it escalates military operations after four years of fighting an unnecessary war in Iraq.
The President warns that if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq right now, the country could become a staging ground for terrorists to plan attacks like 9/11. But Iraq was not a terrorist training ground before we invaded the country. The country's leader, Saddam Hussein, was an evil dictator responsible for horrific treatment of his own people. But he posed no imminent threat to the U.S.
By getting rid of Saddam, however, we have served the interests of Iran, which now does pose a serious security threat. Iran was Saddam's biggest enemy. Moreover, we have helped install a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad. And by invading Iraq, we have allowed the Taliban, a regime that sheltered anti-American terrorists in Afghanistan, to recover after it had been soundly defeated.
Our failure in Iraq is reflected in recent authoritative polls showing that 78% of Iraqis now consider the U.S. "occupiers" of their country and that 51% consider it acceptable for local militias to attack American forces there. With that kind of psychological climate, I shudder at the challenges faced by the GI in my local newspaper's photo and his comrades. It is time to bring them home!