Saturday, June 03, 2006

Lessons from Haditha and Ishaqi: Nothing More to Win

The news is full of reports about Marines suspected of massacre in the Iraqi village of Haditha, and of other Marines cleared in a seemingly similar incident in Ishaqi. Both incidents resulted in men, women and children dead; one has been declared justified, the other not.

We need to look at what situation we are putting our soldiers in and what we are doing to the emotional and psychological health of Iraqis, including little children, who have to live with the presence of soldiers in their streets, detaining them, and searching their homes. One has only to look at the face of a five-year-old girl as her family waits outside their home, her face contorted in fear as she starts to cry, to realize that no one is winning here.

As long as the U.S. military is in Iraq there will be an endless supply of insurgents angered by U.S. presence and actions. And every confrontation, every firefight, is likely to recruit more insurgents angry at what is happening in their country.

Are the insurgents right to set off IEDs and blow up soldiers and innocent civilians? Of course not. But we are putting our troops through constant stress and demanding actions of them that no one should have to commit, and we are putting the Iraqi people through a daily hell of chaos and fear.

It's time to recognize that war does things to people; it damages the psyches of soldiers and civilians alike; it is a cruel, destructive act that should not be imposed on anyone. It's time to recognize that war itself is evil; and it's time to bring our troops home.

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