On the Left
The most common headline I see every day when I wake up goes something like this: "More U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq," or "Insurgents continue to plague troops." Since May 1, when major combat in Iraq ceased, approximately 160 U.S. troops have been killed. U.S. commanders are saying they face up to 30 attacks a day from guerrilla insurgents. Call me crazy, but I think democracy in Iraq is going to be a bit of a hard sell. Despite the rhetoric that all the Iraqi insurgents are henchmen of Saddam Hussein, it must be difficult to live in what is, at least for the time being, a police state that desperately hangs on to order while struggling under a canopy of fear and anxiety.
More U.S. soldiers have been killed since May 1 than were killed in the combat phase of the Iraq operations, and there is not a foreseeable end in sight. The presence of Coalition forces hangs in the balance, and the Italians -18 Italian troops died recently in an attack on a military base - and the British are getting nervous. The Japanese pulled out of their commitment to send non-combat troops to Iraq. Instead of declining, the guerrilla forces in Iraq are growing, and the sporadic attacks will only increase tension and anxiety among U.S. troops. Of course U.S. soldiers won't be scared away by small guerrilla attacks, but it is probably easier to fight a large, well-organized army with uniforms than it is to track down small groups or individuals who can strike at any moment, anywhere.
Greater anxiety will only increase military blunders and human error, which have been rife during this conflict. Just the other day two more Black Hawk helicopters crashed into each other, killing 17 U.S. troops in one sad fireball of molten metal. The longer the U.S. stays in Iraq, the more senseless and tragic deaths to our soldiers will occur. Building roads and helping hospitals is wonderful, but long-term change in Iraq can only be successful if it originates from within. The Iraqi people, who obviously do not share the same culture, government and belief systems as most U.S. troops, have to decide for themselves how and in what way to change their country for the better. If they want our assistance, fine - but when have they ever asked for it? Do we think so low of them as to posit that Iraqis who want change in Iraq are less capable or persistent than revolutionaries in other countries or societies? We're not helping freedom in Iraq - we're just substituting a military junta for a malicious autocrat. If the Iraqi people want democracy, they have to cultivate those ideological lands for themselves, and forcing a radically different ideology on other societies - as we are doing in Iraq - is most often met with misery and bondage.
A lot of people like to delude themselves into thinking that warring in the Middle East will prevent future attacks against Americans. The U.S. may have the strongest military in the world, but taking a hard-line stance engenders more malevolent feelings against the U.S., not less, and will eventually lead to more attacks. Suicide bombers obviously cannot be quelled into submission by military force - if they could be, they wouldn't sacrifice their lives and there would be no more suicide bombers. Imposing Western values onto a non-Western state has and certainly will cause disruption and violence, and possibly change - but I wonder why $87 billion is being poured into pride when we have enough problems at home to worry about. Obviously the main claim for venturing into Iraq - weapons of mass destruction - was a total sham, so why should we trust the government claim that we are 'protecting freedom and democracy' at home and abroad when we have such a long history of bullying, invading and occupying sovereign nations? Such horrible hypocrisy from the leaders of the free world will only tarnish the image of democracy, not enhance it. Perhaps we should consider some change from within of our own. Maybe if we pulled back the comforting but opaque American flag out of our faces, we could see what's going on in the world and learn to challenge our blind faith and convictions - which are, after all, meaningless if not challenged.
Corey Parker is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.