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ISSUE 117 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 5/7/2004

Iraq help needed now

By Byron Vierk
Staff Writer


Friday, May 7, 2004

Senator Edward Kennedy has called it George W. Bushs Vietnam. Democratic Presidential hopeful John Kerry has called it a quagmire. Whatever choice phrase politicians use to describe the situation in Iraq, one thing is certain: things are getting worse, both for our service-men and- women in Iraq and for the civilian population.

It has been one year since a triumphant President Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln touting the successful completion of major engagement in the Iraq War. At the time, the U. S. Army truly was seen as a liberating force, with many Iraqis expressing feelings of hope for a future free from the oppression that had been so central to their lives during the Saddam era.

It was not unrealistic to believe that perhaps the Bush administration could pull off the unprecedented feat of propping up a nation with little more than raw will. However, the United States seems to have underestimated both the religious and nationalistic convictions of the Iraqi people, and we are paying for that miscalculation in blood.

Today, there is a steady stream of casualty reports coming out of Iraq. We have lost the support of the Iraqis who were once so optimistic about their futures. We are now seen as occupiers and conquerorsinfidels spoiling lands that are not our own. But really, why should the United States have predicted that anything else would have happened?

The Middle East is an area where religion transcends almost every other concern, and it is through their very religious convictions that Iraqis have risen above their squabbles to unite under Imams like Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. Perhaps Kerrys description of Iraq as a quagmire is not that far off after all. The United States could spend billions of dollars and thousands of lives on Iraq, but who is to say that would stop the surge of violence?

Thus, we are stuck between bad and worse: withdraw from Iraq and doom the country to an inevitable civil war or stick it out and lose more American lives. In many ways, we are doomed to stay. Everyone in the world loses if Iraq falls into civil war, most especially America. A premature withdrawal from Iraq coupled with our outrageously outspoken support for Israel would not only further damage our relations with the few friends in the Middle East that we still have, it would undoubtedly do the one thing that the Bush administration wants the least: increase terrorism against Westerners.

I think that its about time the United States admits that it is in over its head and, as Kerry has suggested, ask the United Nations for assistance in Iraq. This would not only add legitimacy to any council that is appointed to govern Iraq, but would lessen the burden that the United States must pay both in lives and currency. America wishes to deny that it is an imperialistic country, and it is this denial that is keeping us isolated in Iraq.

The UN offered to assist America in its occupation and peacekeeping role, yet we rebuffed their kind offer. This kind of arrogant attitude does nothing to improve the American image around the world and only serves to further alienate and burden our country. Yes, our political leaders might have to apologize to the rest of the world, but arent the lives of American soldiers worth more than this administrations pride?

The Middle East, as the President has claimed, is at a crossroads. If we can achieve a plausible transfer of power to a stable Iraqi council, eventually leading to a democratically elected government, it will be the first real political coup of the 21st century. However, at the very best, it will be a long haul requiring billions more dollars and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives. At the worst, we will have destabilized an already precarious regionand destroyed any remaining shred of credibility in a part of the world where American identity is already in crisis. As for now, America finds itself waist deep in quicksand, with every move taking us deeper.


Staff Writer Byron Vierk is a junior from Lincoln, Neb. He majors in history.


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