My heart goes out to the family of Staff Sergeant, Eric Ross, the young Maine soldier, tragically killed in Iraq, February 9, during combat operations in Baquba. Ross’ death is just one more obvious reason why the U.S. should begin an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, ending U.S. involvement in a conflict that we shouldn’t have been in at all.
According to this morning’s Portland Press Herald, in a story bylined to David Hench, Senator Snowe is now calling for an investigation into the death of Ross and is questioning whether U.S. forces are stabilizing a fledgling government or are mired in sectarian rivalries with no clear idea of can be trusted.
Without stating the obvious, I’d say that, yes, Senator, we are mired in a quagmire, fueled by sectarian forces—in a nutshell—this is a civil war at best and a prototypical clusterfuck (a common military term, btw) at its worst.
While many Republicans and Democrats are now taking political cover by suddenly questioning President Bush's strategy to send an additional 21,000 U.S. soldiers into this quagmire in Iraq, the fact remains that senators such as Snowe and Collins voted to support the Iraq war resolution back in 2002. Now, after apparently having a “Damascus Road” experience of some kind, they are suddenly opposed to escalating the conflict that has resulted in 3,148 deaths of U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of others slated to return home, with injuries that will require care and follow up that is apparently lacking, at least according to reports like this one.
I want to reiterate, as I did at the beginning of this post. My issue with politicians in no way seeks to invalidate the life of Eric Ross. When I was 26, my biggest concern was making a comeback as a semi-pro pitcher and building a house—not dodging roadside bombs and trying to figure out if that person on the other side of the street was going to try to kill me. That’s a reality that no person of 26 (or any age) should ever have to face and I cannot fathom the grief his family is trying to cope with right now.
I have been opposed to this war from the beginning and have been vocal about my opposition. I am fed up with politicians, like Senator Snowe, who by-and-large have supported their party’s hawkish policies, only recently parting ways, now that most Americans have finally decided that the conflict in Iraq is a mistake. Back in November, 2002, long before the senator had her change of heart, 500 Mainers, marched through the rain in Augusta and registered our opposition. I remember clearly, crossing Western Avenue with my anti-war placard and having a driver swerve and nearly hit me while yelling “if you hate America so much, why don’t you get the fuck out!” That’s the kind of reaction that opposing the president got you, back when everyone was plastering their SUV’s with yellow ribbons and American flags. Or, how about listening to some redneck in a bar rant at the TV when Tim Robbins was being interviewed by a talking head and saying he was opposed to what was going on in Iraq and nearly coming to blows with the patron when I kindly pointed out the error of his opinion in blindly supporting our president? In 2002 and 2003, being anti-war meant you ran the risk of getting your ass kicked, or worse.
In a related story, Dexter Kamilewicz, who ran unsuccessfully last fall, against Congressman Tom Allen, was one of a small group of protestors to stage a sit-in at Allen’s Portland office on Thursday. The group entered Allen's Exchange Street office Wednesday afternoon and sat on the floors for hours, reading aloud the names of deceased Iraqis and U.S. soldiers. Members of the group said they planned to stay until the 1st District Democrat addressed their concerns or police arrested them. They got the latter, as Portland police arrested 13 on trespassing charges, Thursday night.
[Note: Don't neglect to read the comments following the PPH story, particularly republican's stumbling attempt at intelligent commentary.]
The protesters were part of a national campaign, called The Occupation Project, aimed at pressuring Democrats in Congress to cut funding for the Iraq war.
Talk is cheap and while Allen insists that he’s opposed to the war in Iraq, he keeps voting to fund the debacle.
Kamilewicz was one of the 13 arrested and had this to say about his former opponent. “I believe he wants to be a good senator more than he wants to be a good congressman," making reference to Allen's possible run against Susan Collins, for her Senate seat in 2008.
With the U.S. having spent nearly $370 billion ($370,000,000,000!!!) in Iraq and Afghanistan, is it any wonder why we have little money to address our domestic issues here at home? Still, politicians of both parties (Demicans and Republicrats) continue to talk out of both corners of their mouths, saying they’re opposed to the war, but continuing to fund it and enable the war profiteers. Take a very good look at where your tax dollars are going—nearly 1/3 of the federal budget now goes to defense.
As if that wasn’t reason enough, reports coming from Britain indicate that British troops will begin a major withdrawal from Iraq in May, which could cause a domino effect and leave the U.S. without any members left in its “coalition of the willing.” Already, Japan is considering pulling its 500 troops, as are Denmark and Lithuania. While the trio’s numbers are small, it’s symbolic of how other nations view the current state of what’s happening on the ground in Iraq. While other nations are seeking to turn over security concerns to Iraqi security forces, the U.S. military, at the behest of the administration, are ramping up troop levels.
We need an immediate exit from Iraq, not continued hand wringing, political posturing and maintenance of the party status quo. The families of U.S. soldiers deserve much better. Bring them home now!!