How many more Americans must die?

There’s a question that nobody asks Presidential candidates in this year’s run for the top job in the White House.

It’s a question that must be asked: How many more Americans must die before we end the illegal and immoral war in Iraq?

Forget about timetables, forget about political implications and forget about our so-called “mission” to bring Democracy to that war-torn country. We no longer have Democracy in the United States so how on earth can we export it to another country?

This is a simple question of life and death. How many more dedicated men and women must die before we admit we were wrong and bring them home?

The American death toll will soon top 4,000. I suspect it passed 4,000 a long time ago because the Pentagon has played fast and loose with the numbers and some who died after leaving the country with wounds died later from those wounds but their deaths were not listed as Iraq combat casualties.

But the issue here is morality, not numbers. It was wrong for the United States to invade a country that posed no immediate threat to our way of life. We aren’t supposed to do things like that. If one American dies from an illegal and immoral act then that is one American too many.

The blood of every American killed or wounded in that war stains the hands of everyone who helped promote the invasion: The Bush Administration hacks who cooked the intelligence data, the members of Congress who voted to authorize the invasion, the media that fell for the flag-waving propaganda and every right-wing nutcase that continues to promote the slaughter as some God-given right of America to kill those who disagree with us.

America has become a bigger tyrant than those we seek to overthrow. We are an international bully feared on some front and despised on many more. Respect for this nation vanished on the international stage long ago. Even the late Pope warned George W. Bush that invading Iraq would “be a criminal act.”

The Presidential campaign treats the Iraq war as a taboo subject that must be handled with hyperbole and double-talk. Among the front-runners on both sides, only Democrat Barack Obama has suggested he might have voted against the invasion of Iraq but even his comments have tempered of late and he has flipped on the issue. Hillary Clinton voted for the invasion and has refused to apologize for that vote. John Edwards has changed his position more times than couples in a sex-education video and Republican front-runners march in goose-step with Bush on the war.

Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich based much of their campaigns on opposition to the war but, barring a major upset in a primary, neither stand much of a chance of winning their party’s nomination.

So it’s time to ask the question to those who stand the best chance of becoming the candidates:

How many more Americans must die in Iraq?

The only acceptable answer is “none.”


  1. ekaton

    Well, its a sincere gesture. I don’t know how grand it is. Notice I said community college. I could afford tuition and books for that. I have a spare bedroom that I would offer for room, and if the student could stand my cooking then board also. Wouldn’t cost that much. If a kid really wants to serve out of a sense of duty or patriotism, then I’m all for that. But if a kid sees the military as his only way out, his only option, then if I can show him and help him to a better alternative thats all I ask.

    — Kent Shaw

  2. SEAL

    A grand gresture, Kent, and I applaude you for it. But how many people out there do you think are in a financial position to do what what you offer?

  3. ekaton

    “but everyone must quality with nations chosen battle rifle of choice; ie., the SIG SG550 in their case. Every houshold in Switzerland “must be” armed and the residents qualified to use them…!”

    Hmmm… Does my AR15 M4 A3 count? Just change a spring or two… Its never been fired, but I assure you, I DO know how to use it should I ever need it.

    — Kent Shaw

  4. JoyfulC

    I doubt “feeling guilty” will do much good, but sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves under the circumstances is just too weird. (Unless you can rewrite history.)

    This reminds me of the time a friend of mine and I witnessed a horrible accident. A little old lady in a car bigger than my home, waited until the motorcycle was right at the intersection to pull out in front of him. The passenger on the bike was thrown and killed instantly. The cyclist was still alive but in very bad shape. My friend went for help (back in the day before cell phones), and I waited at the scene.

    The old doll was beside herself, downright hysterical. There wasn’t much I could do for the mangled kid, so I did my best to comfort her. Finally she got herself together enough to speak. Her big concern? Her husband had just had the Lincoln painted and he was going to be furious that it was messed up.

    When I hear people talking about how many Americans are being killed in this war, as though that’s the biggest or only consequence, I get that same queasy, angry feeling in the pit of my stomach I got that day listening to that old lady.

  5. Carl Nemo

    JoyfulC…a nicely stated counterintuitive explanation for our national dilemma!

    Maybe now, we simply need to go with the bumper stickers I’ve seen in my time; ie., “Fxxk Guilt” then move forward to end the war letting the deadwood of our past sins and poor national judgment simply shakeout, consequences be damned.

    All wars generally speaking must come to an end except possibly for Reagan/H.W. Bush’s, “War on Drugs” and Bush/Cheney’s “War on Terror” both; faceless, endless “concept” wars in the finest tradition of Orwell.

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. ekaton

    We need to get young people to stop enlisting in the military as long as Iraq and Afghanistan drag on. How do we do this? One way is to make economic opportunity available to those who see the military as the only viable economic way to improve their futures. Help them get higher education and help them procure decent jobs. If it meant paying tuition at a community college to keep one kid from enlisting I could afford to do that and I would. I would intervene with friends who are able to give them good jobs. We all need to do this. It is something we can do at the local level and it would have some real effect, more so than sitting at a keyboard ranting away like I always do.

    What we have today effectively IS a DRAFT, an economic draft of those who feel they have no other options. We must end the economic draft.

    SO… anyone in the Harrisburg area know any kids about to enlist because they can’t even afford tuition at Harrisburg Area Community College? I’ll provide tuition, books, and even provide room and board to keep ONE kid OUT of today’s military. Anyone else out there willing to make such a small sacrifice as this in order to provide a really significant impact on the military? Theoretically we could terminate all enlistments with a hundred thousand volunteers helping out kids in order to keep them out of illegal wars for corporate profits.

    Here is a real chance for one kid.

    — Kent Shaw

  7. Carl Nemo

    Doug Thompson…A superb indictment concerning this ongoing nightmare…!

    One of the main problems concerning this issue is that so many of our bases are in “Red States” represented by those “goose-stepping” republicans you’ve referenced in your article. The Congressional leadership from these states have little motivation to shut down the war because it represents federal revenue for their states and corporate payola for them.

    Little did Americans realize that having a professional military would ultimately backfire on them. Whether they are reservists or active regulars this is how they make a buck. On the part of the general staff and the Pentagon there’s little genuine incentive to shut down this ongoing debacle. When they hear the pols state we need to stay in the region for at least 50 years, no doubt it stokes them… 😐

    Yesterday I was dredging through political data and came up with the fact that 60 percent of the military voted for Bush in the last election with 70 percent registered as republicans?! I’d say there’s a conflict of interest here…no?!

    The very people moral citizens want to save; instead, want to perpetuate a conflict in which they might die. Many people forget that for every combat active GI there are nominally 8-10 support people behind them. So the statistical odds of surviving Iraq are quite high regardless of the seemingly high casualties.

    What does a decorated Marine sniper have to come home to compared with the excitement and the free-wheeling lifestyle of the combat zone. A wife, screaming kids, debt problems and the boring life stateside on some spit-n-shine, c.s., HQ base. Life back home in the big “BX”; ie., the U.S. is boring…boring! It’s like going from an adrenalin high to a resthome experience. It was the same during the Nam era. Many guys became hooked on the combat zone experience and did multiple tours many even reenlisted in the zone to get tax free bonuses etc.

    I’m personally against a fulltime professional military and believe that the nations defense should be made up citizen/soldier able-bodied volunteers from age 18-55 similar to Switzerland. For those that don’t wish to engage in combat defense they are welcome to serve in some medical or support capacity, but everyone must quality with nations chosen battle rifle of choice; ie., the SIG SG550 in their case. Every houshold in Switzerland “must be” armed and the residents qualified to use them…!

    The Swiss have the finest comprehensive “Civil Defense” system in the world and have been a true democracy for over 700 years never to be invaded. Citizens must also participate in the process of their government. Shufflebutting is not allowed on the part of their citizens…! The maintenance of freedom requires eternal vigilance and collective effort on the part of a concerned citizenry.

    A professional military leads to corruption between the politicians that run this nation to the contractors both large and small that supply materiel for the execution and support of war. In other words the waging and fomentation of wars has become “Big Business” for America and has grown progressively larger since WWII. At this point it in time it seems out of control. Ike warned us; his advice obviously falling upon deaf ears.

    Needless to say this war needs to come to an end from a moral standpoint, but from big business and jobs for returning GI’s it has now become a major problem. The housing market is bust with new housing starts down 55 percent from last year and it’s still cratering. America’s blue collar, industrial jobs have been drying up like slugs in the noonday sun for quite some time especially under the Bushistas. This huge sucking sound of American jobs leaving this country started under Clinton’s watch. Ross Perot’ warned us of the impending disaster with NAFTA, GATT, WTO, now CAFTA and no doubt many more treaties to come courtesy of our corporatist controlled Congressional cabal.

    Many GI’s returning from Iraq as reservists get screwed by their former companies. Regardless of the Soldier and Sailors Relief Act they end up getting reasigned to distasteful positions or the companies have simply closed doors, or possibly have been absorbed by a larger corporation. In that case the company is not obligated to honor the former employment agreement upon their return.

    The lure of money for education has turned out to be a bust too. Many GI’s haven’t received even their first check from Uncle even after 14 plus months with enrollment in a college of their choice. The VA never great but has become a joke within a joke under Bushco. Just about everything that once made this governments word as good as gold has gone up in “jive turkey smoke” especially under this corporatist regime. The dryrot has probably been there for a long time, but it’s being dramatically exposed with this ongoing criminal enterprise in Iraq.

    Yes we need to bag it; but the decompression sickness as a result of shutting down this war asap is going to quite painful even possibly deadly for some to say the least.

    Carl Nemo **==

  8. JoyfulC

    The question “How many more Americans must die” suggests that we’re the victims here. I’m not sure that’s the case. Many more Iraqis — many innocent civilians, women, children, elderly — have died, have been injured, have been displaced, have been orphaned, or have become victims of the civil unrest we caused with this war?

    And let’s not forget that public opinion polls were very different at the beginning of this war, back when the average American believed that the US was going to strut into Baghdad, put some good ol’ American foot-to-ass, accept their flowers and adoration, and be home in time to catch the game on TV.

    We can say we were lied to — and we were. But almost all of us heard voices speaking the truth, and many of us chose to ignore them. We can say that we were victims of a corrupt government that lied to us — but surely the Iraqis were in the same type of boat with Saddam. They didn’t deserve what befell them.

    To say “how many more Americans must die” is a bit like the Germans bemoaning the loss of German troop lives after WWII. Our government got us into an illegal war, but we knew better. What did we do about it? Did we go out in the streets? Did we call for impeachment back in late 2002/early 2003, when we still might have prevented all of this? Or were we still licking our wounds over 9/11 and finding something somewhat satisfying about the notion that we could avenge ourselves and do the world a favour? (Even if through means that’s never once worked in the past, and we had no reason to expect it to work this time?)

    I’m sorry for the American lives that have been and will be lost — but we launched this war. And most Americans were standing behind this president when it began, calling down those who pleaded for cooler heads. We’re not the victims here. We’re the guilty party. Let’s not compound our hubris by pretending that our loss is the greatest. Our loss is significant, but we brought it on ourselves.

  9. rickh1954

    As an outside observer (Canadian) there is something that truly disturbs me about the American psyche. There are two diametrically opposed points of view in the US, call them what you may, liberal / conservative, left / right, etc. The one thing both sides have in common is that both believe they hold all the answers for the entire world.

    This insular point of view is both disturbing and dangerous. Don’t get me wrong, I like Americans; they stand for and believe in many good things. I simply urge you to draw open the curtains and have a look around. There is a whole great world out there with different ways of thinking and doing. You may learn something. The rest of us have no choice but to learn from you.