Tags: What | Did | U.S. | Soldiers | Die | for?

What Did U.S. Soldiers Die for?

Wednesday, 08 September 2004 12:00 AM

It is because they made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and because they will not be the last to die, that it is incumbent on the rest of us not only to honor their memory, but to understand the cause for which they fought.

If you were at last week's Republican convention, or you watched it on television, you might make the mistake of thinking that they died to avenge the deaths of innocent Americans on Sept. 11.

To be fair, that is what you were supposed to think - that is why the convention was in New York; why it was held so close to the anniversary of 9-11; why former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his best Democratic friend Ron Silver were given starring roles; why George Bush went to hang out with firefighters (whose national union was among the first to support John Kerry in the primaries) before greeting any Republicans in New York; why all the talk was about the war on terror.

If you'd watched the convention, you might think Saddam Hussein had something to do with the hijacked airplanes of Sept. 11, that he was supporting Osama bin Laden, that there was a secret connection between Iraq and the Taliban.

That is, of course, precisely what George Bush and his team apparently thought in the days after Sept. 11, 2001. That is what he asked his counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke to investigate.

The short answer then is the same as the long answer now, 1,000 deaths later.

Iraq was not to blame for 9-11. Saddam is a bad and evil man - there are many in the world - but he was not responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans three years ago.

Nor did he possess weapons of mass destruction that posed an imminent threat to the United States. The intelligence was wrong. The President didn't lie on purpose, but the reasons he gave for going to war weren't right, weren't true, weren't facts. Maybe he didn't do it on purpose, but he misled us then.

And the Republicans certainly did it on purpose last week. Their goal was very simple: to tie the war in Iraq to 9-11 in the hopes of making the president more popular.

How dumb do they think Americans are? Very dumb indeed.

If freedom and democracy are God's gift to every human being, does that mean American soldiers must die all over the world to bring freedom to all those who are oppressed? Conservatives used to laugh at Jimmy Carter when he said things like this, even in idealistic terms. Be real, they would say. It is our national interest that must control.

Is America safer today because of the 1,000 lives we have lost?

Are there fewer terrorists who hate us in the world, or more?

Will we be asking these same questions when there are 1,100 dead, or 1,500 or 2,000?

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It is because they made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and because they will not be the last to die, that it is incumbent on the rest of us not only to honor their memory, but to understand the cause for which they fought. If you were at last week's...
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Wednesday, 08 September 2004 12:00 AM
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