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These words spoken by Senator Harry Reid have raised the Republican hackles and created headlines. While, actually, these words were predicated by a phrase which was widely overlooked, "Unless the President changes his plan." However, even if we "win" the war in Iraq, what will we have won? How does that compare with what we have lost?

First and foremost, we have lost the lives of well over 3,000 of our most precious treasure, the young men and women who might have been our future leaders and certainly would have been mother and fathers, factory workers, professional people, and generally productive and responsible citizens. Add to that the many thousands of lives that have been blighted by permanent disabilities, both mental and physical, due to the wounds and horrors which they have needlessly suffered. And the question will endure as to how much more they will suffer at the tender mercies of the VA health care system.

We have, as a nation, lost our moral compass. With the torture and indefinite detention policies which were established by this administration, we have lost our reputation as a compassionate nation, Not since the Civil War have we offered such miserable treatment to prisoners of war. We have unilaterallty repealed the Geneva Convention which once guaranteed the humane treatment of prisoners in time of war and substituted policies of brutality.

We have lost the war in Aghanistan, out only possible legitiomate target as we have pulled out the bulk of out troops for the ill-advised attack on Iraq and we have spread the interest in Al Qaida all over the Middle East while the warlords have assumed their accustomed control and the Taliban thrives due to our neglect, Furthermore, Afghanistan poppies fill the coffers of AlQaida throughout the world.

We have lost almost all of the nations which once were our allies as they become disgusted with our rampant militaristic imperialism. Where once we were a vital and effective participant in the world's search for peace, we are now feared and loathed throughout the world. The word, "respect", is no longer used in reference to the United States and our influence for peace and prosperity has simply disappeared.

We have lost our sense of purpose as we became obsessed with "winning" without knowing what winning is supposed to look like. Few of us could answer the question as to why we invaded Iraq in the first place as more of the reasons which we were given at the beginning are disproved and revealed as merely manipulation in order to accomplish whatever undisclosed goal the administration hoped to achieve. Meanhwile, we have abandoned, one by one, the principles upon which our very society was built. As the national budget is plunged into unimaginable debt as the war expenses eat up our resources, it is necessary to cut social programs and virtually dismantle our society as we know it.

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We have lost our sense of "nation" as our borders are left unprotected and millions of immigrants pour in to tax our schools, welfare system, and hospitals while flooding our plants, factories, and construction crews with workers who are willing to accept smaller eages, often "under the table" with no tax or unemployment liability for the companies that employ them. As a result, our standard of living is falling as citizens lose their jobs, their homes, and their hope.

So, if and when we actually should "win" this war or the planned invasion of Iran, what will we have left? I forsee about three generations of Dickensian drudgery for the common man with exhorbitant taxes as we strugle to repay all the indebtedness assumed by this administration. And we will have to do it without our once-teeming factories, our productive farmland, and our state-of-the-art research and development firms. The entire structure of our once-great nation will take many years to rebuild and the restoration of our reputation as a land of hope, opportunity, and compassion will take even longer. We may look forward to the year 2009 with hope but it will take many years and many good governments to heal the wounds of this war, win or lose.

It took two centuries to build this nation and, after eight years of ill-chosen leadership, it will take another century to restore it. Perhaps than we can say that we have "won".

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This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own workung-class family. She spends her "Sunset Years" in writing and struggling with The (more...)

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