Editorial: Five Years of Unjust War

The fifth anniversary of President Bush’s war of choice passed on March 19, and if that isn’t enough to put America face-to-face with the profound nightmare that has been the Second Iraq War, another grim watermark was met this week when the death toll of U.S. forces in the Iraqi quagmire reached 4,000.

At this point, The Minaret would like to draw attention to another war, one in which the United States was involved for far less time and accomplished far more. During World War II, the U.S., Britain and Russia faced a threat that could very well have meant the extinction of the free world’s most cherished ideals.

From 1939 to 1945, the Allies were determined to meet this threat by any means necessary. Technological innovations appeared regularly; international cooperation reached a fevered pace even before the U.S. officially entered the war.

Though there are many obvious differences between this conflict and that one that could be cited – the bevy of utterly groundless reasons for American involvement in Iraq, our unclear and amorphous goals for the country we have now invaded – on a day like today, when one reflects on the senseless deaths of thousands of Americans, not to mention untold numbers of Iraqis, one element stands out among the others.

It seems that after five years not only is the American public increasingly displeased with the president and administration who proclaimed that we would be “greeted as liberators,” those who arrogantly declared “mission accomplished” years too early – but American troops, the ones who must bear the brunt of their civilian leaders’ cavalier decisions, are still facing regular casualties from the simplest roadside bombs.

Can it possibly be that the United States, a country that believes itself pre-eminent in industry and the sciences, a country that once rose to meet real, rather than imagined, threats head-on, cannot now muster the technological know-how or political will to properly armor the undersides of common military vehicles?

Improvised roadside bombs are the biggest killer of U.S. troops in Iraq according to Reuters, and even the protected “Green Zone” in central Baghdad is by no means safe as violence increases in the Iraqi capital. Can it possibly be that, given five years to apply the creativity and skill of the American people, our primary means of protecting ourselves in the country we chose to invade is to send more bodies?

Or can it be that the patina of fear, invoked with such cynicism by leaders in the wake of 9/11, is finally, finally, finally fading away? The flash-in-the-pan presidential bid of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who seemed determined at first to run on a Groundhog’s Day candidacy of perpetual smoke-smeared September mornings, is one positive sign, but the echoing tromp of American “boots on the ground” betrays the fact there is still much to be done.

Has the U.S. public lost its determination? Its imagination?

No; but these are nothing without its heart, which it is now challenged to rediscover. In doing so, it is inevitable that the American people must face the lies, distortions, and callous manipulations by President Bush and others that started us collectively down this road, five years and counting.

Support the troops. Bring them home.

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