VIEW FROM AFAR- Will candidates admit Iraq is a tragedy?

Imagine your reaction if this month 30,000 Americans citizens died from being bombed, shot or tortured to death.

Imagine the surviving wounded being taken to understaffed and under-equipped hospitals.

Imagine that your local police, sheriff’s department, National Guard and U.S. Army were part of the death squads threatening your family.

Imagine foreign troops who did not speak a word of your language rolling down your streets in armored vehicles or flying overhead in helicopters.

Imagine this entire scenario happening with only a few hours of electricity per day during a Kansas heat wave.

This is life in Iraq-a country with one-tenth the population of the United States facing 3,000 civilian casualties per month.

The carnage is happening in a country that is the combined size of Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Our country unleashed the dogs of war in Iraq. We were told we would find weapons of mass destruction and a local population standing along the highways greeting us with flowers.

Shortly after the invasion, we were promised that democracy would take root in the Middle East and we Americans would have a stable supply of cheap gasoline.

The results of this escapade are now obvious: gasoline prices are at record levels, Middle East democracy is a crazy quilt of warlords and anarchy, the roadside flower greeters instead plant roadside bombs and it is bad taste to bring up the non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

The United States conquest of Iraq set in motion a tragedy for the entire world to see. We can break it, but we don’t know how to fix it-to paraphrase the exiled former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

We have opened a tragic question: “What is worse, brutal tyranny or chaos and anarchy?”

Tragedies-like a bad marriage and a death in the family-or unleashing the dogs of war with no plan as to how to put them back in the kennel leave one with only tragic choices.

Maybe a half-million American soldiers stationed in Iraq for a few years would be enough to put the dogs back in the kennel.

But the financial costs and the fallout from a military draft for this risky enterprise make this an unlikely scenario.

Maybe the best option is an announcement that we are leaving Iraq shortly and we will let the strongest wild dog become the alpha male of the pack.

In this scenario it is best not to shoot Suddam Hussein-Iraq may need him someday.

The president is popular because he is very decisive. But, 7-year-old boys are also very decisive-they merely lack good judgment and wisdom.

Now he will have to make a tragic decision-escalate the war with no confidence of winning or do a phased and rapid withdrawal and trust the forces of anarchy.

But instead, he piously intones we must not let our brave soldiers to have died in vain. We must stay the course, and not face the reality: there is no course in Iraq. The insane logic that sacrificing more blood because blood has already been shed means all rational methods of discourse have been exhausted.

This flag-waving madness kept us in Vietnam for years.

At least in Vietnam it was possible to lose the war and go home-secure that some sort of government would take over the country. Staying or leaving were always sad and imperfect options in Vietnam.

It is time to ask Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, who solicit our vote some hard questions.

First, will you admit that Iraq was a tragedy?

Second, will you admit that any policy you advocate will not perfectly end the tragedy?

If they blink-because they know nothing of tragedy-they don’t deserve our vote.

Today the United States is building an embassy in Baghdad. The compound is the size of 80 football fields. It will cost about three quarters of a billion dollars before it is finished. It is the only U.S. building project progressing on schedule.

It will dwarf the previously most famous Iraqi landmark, the Tower of Babel-a monument to human arrogance and stupidity. That building project was never completed.

You can contact the author at Suderman@AOL.COM

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