Guest Column: Enough already with the war in Iraq

The war in Iraq has had devastating effects on all the parties involved. The recent Johns Hopkins University report indicates that more than 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died since we invaded in the spring of 2003. Tens of thousands more have died since the report came out, many of them at the hands of the various militias that seem to be well armed, and able to move around the country unimpeded. The recent surge of more troops promises to kill tens of thousands more of innocent civilians as we exercise a more aggressive policy toward the insurgents. We are in a war that we cannot win, unless we are willing to kill hundreds of thousands more Iraqi civilians and commit several hundred thousand more troops to Iraq. The question then becomes, “Is it worth it?”

The cost to our country has been extremely high, and it is still escalating. More than 3,200 of our troops have been killed, not counting the mercenaries hired by companies such as Blackwater. The cost of these privatized fighting forces and support personnel must cost at least five or 10 times the cost of regular Army volunteers. There is really no way Congress can exercise oversight over these mercenaries. Weren’t some of them involved in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal? Working or fighting next to these well-paid mercenaries must have a devastating effect on the morale of our troops. No one seems to know how many of these privatized soldiers and workers are in Iraq, although estimates run from 50,000 to 120,000.

In addition to the servicemen killed, there are probably at least seven or eight times that many wounded. We have all read, in recent weeks, about the inadequate care being provided to these returning wounded soldiers. It goes without saying that more money is going to have to be authorized by Congress to guarantee the Veterans Administration does a better job of nurturing these wounded veterans who have given so much of themselves for us. Recognizing and dealing with the large percentage of returning servicemen with post-traumatic stress disorder will continue to be a daunting task.

The money costs of the war are enormous, and we are borrowing about $70 million every day to finance it. This is hardly the kind of legacy we want to leave to our children and grandchildren. It seems like a no-brainer to conclude that all of the tax cuts since 2001 should be repealed to lessen this burden on future generations.

The damage done to Iraqi homes, businesses and infrastructure can hardly be quantified. You have all read about the lack of electricity and water that plague the country, as well as the schools and hospitals destroyed. Aren’t we responsible for rebuilding all that we have destroyed? We should get out now, before we do additional damage, and admit our leaders have goofed in leading us into this illegal war, which there is absolutely no way of winning.

Rudy Hazucha is a resident of Rockford.

from the April 25-May 1, 2007, issue

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