Saturday, December 30, 2006

Just One More Death

I awoke this morning to the news that Saddam Hussein's execution had indeed been carried out last night. The man who was responsible for thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of his own citizens' deaths had been "brought to justice." Even discounting the excessive propaganda issued by the White House, it was clear that Saddam was not a very nice man. Whether he deserved the ultimate penalty for his heinous actions is another debate. Suffice it to say that I am opposed to the death penalty under any circumstances, but that stance is not really relevant right now. What is relevant is that his is just one more death amongst the hundreds of thousands of deaths since the US invaded that country, and, like all of those other deaths, it really won't make a difference.

An article in today's NY Times suggests just how meaningless Saddam's death is, given the current situation in Iraq and in Washington.

The capture of Saddam Hussein three years ago was a jubilant moment for the White House, hailed by President Bush in a televised address from the Cabinet Room. The execution of Mr. Hussein, though, seemed hardly to inspire the same sentiment.

After Mr. Hussein was arrested Dec. 13, 2003, he gradually faded from view, save for his courtroom outbursts and writings from prison. The growing chaos and violence in Iraq has steadily overshadowed the torturous rule of Mr. Hussein, who for more than two decades held a unique place in the politics and psyche of the United States, a symbol of the manifestation of evil in the Middle East.

Now, what could have been a triumphal bookend to the American invasion of Iraq has instead been dampened by the grim reality of conditions on the ground there. Mr. Hussein’s hanging means that the ousted leader has been held accountable for his misdeeds, fulfilling the American war aim most cited by the White House after Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction proved nonexistent.

Even this White House realized that Saddam's death was (to use a term Mr. Bush used in terms of the war itself) just a comma. The civil war waging in Baghdad and the rest of the country causes on average a hundred Iraqi deaths a day. As of 7:00AM PST this morning, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, 2,997 American troops have been killed, and at this point, that figure may now have reached 3,000. Neither set of figures takes into account the thousands maimed both physically and mentally since the war started.

And things aren't getting any better in Iraq. In fact, they appear to be getting worse. The addition of 20,000 or 30,000 or 40,000 more US troops isn't going to change that. If anything, all the "surge" will accomplish is provide more targets for snipers, IEDs, and mortar shells. We have already lost, a fact that the current president either does not or will not accept.

It's time to pull out, long past time. That our leaving may increase the fighting amongst the Iraqis is hard to imagine, but if it does, at least the Iraqi security forces, such as they are, would be fighting for their own country instead of for the illegal occupation forces and their demented leader.

Two-thirds of the American public made their desire to end our involvement in Iraq quite clear this past November. Now, the 110th Congress needs to ratify those feelings when the next war funding bill (rumored to be near the $100 billion mark) comes before it. It should authorize enough to bring our troops home as safely and as expeditiously as possible, and not one red cent more.

We've had enough death. More than enough.



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