We are fast approaching a tragic milestone: the number of American soldiers who have died in the War on Iraq will soon reach 4,000. How should we observe this milestone? Before answering this question, it would be beneficial to look back at why so many Americans had to die. They died because we started this war. We started this war because some of our leaders share similarities with those who attacked us on 9-11. Just as we were attacked by radical Jihadists who have hijacked their religion, we were led into attacking Iraq by those who have hijacked our patriotism.
Those who have hijacked our patriotism tell us that because we are a “shining city on the hill,” we are entitled to do what we want and can forbid others from doing the same. Thus, according to their logic, we are allowed to break the same international laws that we hold others accountable to. An all too frequent result of this mentality has been that our nation helps other countries in order to control them, or uses aggression to dominate. In addition, our hijackers tell us that their policies are above reproach regardless of the suffering that results--this war has both killed up to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displaced over 4 million.
This sense of entitlement is based on delusions of superiority which Bobby Seale, the co-founder of The Black Panthers, said makes nationalism similar to racism. How can one argue with his logic when both a hijacked nationalism and racism claim privileges that cause outsiders to endure extreme hardship and even death? Should asserting superiority be a part of our patriotism?
Some who have hijacked our patriotism will deny they are promoting American superiority. They claim that we are the good guys who went to rescue a troubled part of the world by preaching democracy. But then how do they explain actions that sabotage democracy? For example, how do they explain their attempts to force Iraq into giving control of their undeveloped oil reserves to foreign corporations—particularly American and British companies--despite the objections from the majority of Iraq’s people and their Parliament? How do these hijackers explain the voices of President Bush’s past aides who maintain that we invaded Iraq because of oil? In fact, according to Paul O’Neill, President Bush’s first Treasury Secretary, the intention to invade Iraq existed before 9-11.
Another action that sabotages democracy in Iraq is maintaining the presence of American troops. Since 2005, poll after poll has shown that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis oppose our presence. Included in these polls is an Iraqi belief that runs counterintuitive to the logic employed by the hijackers of American patriotism: the majority of Iraqis believe that our occupation is a detriment to their security and peace.
How should we recognize the deaths of 4,000 American troops? There are some who sincerely believe that the only way to acknowledge the sacrifices made is to succeed. They proclaim that the surge has provided a light at the end of the tunnel that would enable us to persevere. But how successful has the surge been?
Since the surge took full effect, as the last NIE on Iraq has acknowledged, there has been a reduction in violence. Yet, the same NIE correctly predicted that the level of violence would continue to be significant. In addition, there are statistics that question the effectiveness of the surge. Statistics from the Iraq Coalition Casualties Count website (http://icasualties.org) show a pattern of decline in Iraqi deaths during the last few months of each year starting in 2005, not just during the autumn of the surge. In addition, this website shows an increase in the number of Iraqi deaths during the last 2 months. But despite the statistics, this continuing until we succeed is based on an “ends justifies the means” principle.
Antiwar activists believe that the only way to recognize the upcoming milestone and sacrifices made is by ending the war now. Prosecuting this war is morally bankrupt because it is based on a hijacked patriotism that asserts one group’s superiority. Francis Schaeffer, a Christian Fundamentalist and social commentator, preached that those who abandon moral absolutes seek their own “personal peace and prosperity.” If Schaeffer is right, then our troops’ honorable sacrifices have been exploited by the opportunism of our leaders.