Sunday, May 27, 2007
Staff Sgt. David Safstrom, of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division, says:
In Mosul, in 2003, it felt like we were making the city a better place. There was no sectarian violence, Saddam was gone, we were tracking down the bad guys. It felt awesome.But now, on his third deployment in Iraq, he has stopped being a believer in the war in Iraq. His change of heart came last February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb and, upon searching the body, identification showing that the dead man was a sergeant in the Iraqi Army was found.
I thought, "What are we doing here? Why are we still here?" We're helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.It's a fair question. It's a shame that no one in the government can give a cogent answer. The closest this administration can come is that these dutiful men and women have to have to stay and go on dying and being maimed or else "the enemy" will "follow us home" to America. In short, the best excuse the president can give is that they have to stay there as decoys -- sitting ducks, really -- because the utter bumbling of the war has guaranteed that the civil war already under way will descend even further into chaos if we leave and that might be advantageous to our enemies.
... [I]n Sergeant Safstrom's view, the American presence is futile. "If we stayed here for 5, even 10 more years, the day we leave here these guys will go crazy," he said. "It would go straight into a civil war. That's how it feels, like we're putting a Band-Aid on this country until we leave here."How can we stay for even a year more, though?
After spending six months in Iraq, the soldiers of Delta Company had been home for only 24 hours last December when the news came. "Change your plans," they recall being told. "We're going back to Iraq."Determination is not enough. Dedication is not enough. Bravery is not enough.
Nineteen days later, just after Christmas, Capt. Douglas Rogers and the men of Delta Company were on their way to Khadimiya, a Shiite enclave of about 300,000. As part of the so-called surge of American troops ...
In order to stay there we would need to start a draft and pay billions more in taxes to greatly expand our military to keep this up. But no politician is willing to suggest that, much less actually do it. So the young keep dying so that politicians can delay the inevitable end of this monumental error in hopes that temporizing will somehow produce a miracle or at least delay the ugly dénouement until it happens on someone else's watch so that some small part of the blame can be avoided.
Nothing can diminish the good service of the soldiers, living and dead, in Iraq. They did all they were asked to by those who sent them and more. And that is worth remembering on this Memorial Day.
Nothing can erase the stain the politician on both side of that imaginary aisle will bear for their craven failure to live up to their duty to those men and women. If we don't remember that, then we too will have failed to honor their sacrifice.
"In order to stay there we would need to start a draft and pay billions more in taxes to greatly expand our military to keep this up. But no politician is willing to suggest that, much less actually do it."
Nor do they ask anything of the citizenry. Where is the call for gas conservation, victory gardens, war bonds? If this was a war they really believed in, then they should be encouraging all of us to do everything we can.