As I See It |

As I See It

As we celebrated the joys of family and home this third Christmas of the war in Iraq, and shared in the blessings we enjoy, how many of us thought deeply about the thousands of families for whom Christmas has been saddened by the loss of a loved one in that war? These tragic losses have left parents grieving for a lost son or daughter in whom they had invested their love and hopes, spouses who have had their future of a shared life and love destroyed, and children from whom the joy of growing up with the love and guidance of their father or mother has been stolen. For them, Christmas, just like every day of their lives, has been altered forever.

Just as tragic is the return of loved ones whose futures have been devastated by life-shattering injuries which have left them paralyzed, blind, missing arms and legs, and psychologically damaged. They are not only a constant reminder of what they could have been and are no longer, but are also a potentially destructive emotional and financial burden on their families, which can last for decades.

Although the losses in the Iraq war are small compared with those suffered in World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam, they are just as traumatic for those whose lives have been so tragically altered. What must seem terribly unfair to these families is that they are the only ones who are making sacrifices in this war, while the rest of the country goes on its merry way.

When we went to war in World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam, we enacted a draft to raise the armed forces that were needed. We didn’t just dump a burden on the National Guard, many units of which have been “drafted” into repeat tours of duty in Iraq beyond their original obligation, resulting in very high casualty rates among what was intended to be a homeland security force. We also raised taxes to help pay for those wars, instead of reducing taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, many of which are making huge profits from Bush’s venture in Iraq.

If a war is worth fighting, everyone should share in making the necessary sacrifices, not just a few. This would mean universal draft to share the fighting, and a tax increase to pay the financial cost instead of passing the burden on to future generations ” which will include those who have been called on to do the fighting. If the country had been asked to make those sacrifices, it undoubtedly would not have been as willing to allow its government to rush into war.

Perhaps we will learn a lesson from the tragedy we are going through in Iraq, but I am not too hopeful, since we seem to have learned nothing from our similar experience in Vietnam.

So my post-Christmas message is two-fold. First, I hope that fond memories will bring solace and courage to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one in the Iraq war. And second, in honor of all those who have given their lives and all those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, the high personal cost of this war, I implore everyone to demand a government that will honestly level with the American people on the reasons for war, its probably cost, and how everyone will share in that cost, before committing our country to another conflict.

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