Iraq needs a new strategy

Kathlyn Hotynski

Three thousand, one hundred, seventy-three. Last week this number was 10 less. What number is this? It’s the number of United States servicemen and women that have died in Iraq since the United States declared war on Iraq in March 2003, according to CNN.

Four years later, and nearly 4,000 American deaths later, it seems that the coalition is still far away from achieving its goal. In fact, most would argue that the situation seems to be getting worse. To see this we only need to look to the United States’ major political pundits and media outlets that now constantly refer to the situation in Iraq as a civil war. Forget the conversation of building a democratic society; the Iraqi people are primarily concerned for mere survival. An ink index finger has done little to abate the ever-increasing level of violence.

Concerning the effects on our society, we only need to look at the numbers. Aside from the innumerous deaths of our brave service people, CNN estimates that more than seven times that many have been seriously injured.

Looking at the effects on Iraqi society, the number of Americans dead is far overshadowed by the estimates of Iraqis dead. According to the Iraq Body Count, which is an independent database of media-reported civilian deaths; the estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths ranges anywhere from 57,000 to 63,000.

And what for? I have heard countless times that the Iraq War is necessary to protect my freedom, but honestly I just can’t buy this. Those opposing the United States government’s aim have shown through their reluctance to give up that sheer military force will not deter them. The United States is spending billions of dollars on some the most sophisticated weapons systems in the world, only to see its sons and daughters lose their lives to improvised roadside bombs. At this point, continuing our bully act just doesn’t make sense.

Something is wrong. In our own nation’s history, we have known what it is to be on the side of the unprivileged rebels, defending the homeland. In the Revolutionary War, the colonists were extremely disadvantaged when it came to military strength and supplies. The colonists also felt they were being wrongly oppressed by an imperialistic superpower, a sentiment that seems to be shared by those very guerrillas fighting against our coalition forces today.

I have several family members that are currently serving in the armed forces, including a younger cousin who is in intensive care after being injured in action. Do I support our military? Yes, definitely. But at the same time, I worry that my cousin will have a very different future than the one he had hoped for when he joined the army as a way of paying for college. I worry that my uncle won’t make it back to see his three little girls. I worry that the service people who are dying every day will have died in vain as our country’s strategy gains less-than-fruitful results.

It seems that those who criticize our country’s policies in Iraq are often criticized in return for being unpatriotic. For this reason, I have been reticent in the past to speak out against a war that only seems to be getting worse. But it has gotten worse. More troops are dying, and even more civilians are dying. There seems to be no end in sight. It is time to accept this fact and employ a new

strategy.

President Bush recently introduced a new plan to put 21,500 more troops in Iraq. This “troop surge” is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. Just putting more forces on the ground will do little more than cause an increased casualty count, whether it is among our troops or Iraqi civilians. The war in Iraq is a gross and unacceptable waste of human capital, and our administration should be ashamed for pursuing the strategy that it is. What American citizens should push for is an increase in diplomatic activity, not an increase in deployment.

If American citizens are truly concerned about democracy, it is crucial that we let our voices be heard. Engaging in actions such as rallies or protests, civil disobedience or even letters to the editor are powerful activities, and those who hold opinions that are in conflict with the current administration’s policies should come together and allow themselves to be heard.

If you would like to see a list of the service men and women who have lost their lives so far, please check the CNN Web site.

Lorenz is a junior social work and Spanish double major and a columnist for
The Spectator.