What would Uncle Sam do?

I must say that since the war in Iraq started, my thoughts about it have become increasingly more muddled.

I have been a supporter of it and the objectives that our country was trying to achieve there (and I do believe that there actually were some objectives). Still, it remains a sore subject with me and I do not like to talk about it. One would be hard-pressed to get me into a discussion on the war. There are better things to talk about than war. To that end, I had to be reminded of why our presence in Iraq is necessary by a few wise men.

First and foremost, I would like to say that I do not blame President Bush for the war. He has had to face some difficult issues in his presidency (remember 9-11?), issues that would cause a lesser president to crater. Many people blame him for the war because they need someone to blame the war on, in much the same way that a head coach in professional sports gets the blame when his team has a bad season.

It also hurts to hear the reports of how many soldiers that we have lost there since the United States invaded Iraq in the spring of 2003. Many people are angry at Bush for sending our troops over there to die. They say this is another “Vietnam.” They say he is a “dictator” and that “he should be hanged,” (OK, there is only one guy that I know of who says that stuff about him, but I’m sure there are more).

This is not another “Vietnam” for one major reason: there is NO draft in effect. These young men who go are not being forced to go. They are signing up of their own free will. They know the risks. They know the rewards. They know the dangers. They know that as soon as they sign on the dotted line and become a part of the U.S. military, their lives may be on the line. More than anything these brave young men need support instead of hearing that they should not be there.

I can see why [President Bush] got us involved over there and there are some legitimate reasons. Since Hussein was a dictator, the Iraqi people had few rights if any besides the ones that he gave to them. With his overthrow, the United States could convert Iraq to a democracy. Many people will point to the fact that what goes on in other countries is none of our business and I can see their point. However, one of the basic tenets of our democracy is the belief in freedom. Why should other countries not be able to receive the same basic freedoms that we get?

To say the least, Saddam Hussein was not a good person. During the Iran-Iraq War that engulfed most of the 1980s, the Iraqis were taking heavy casualties. Saddam sought advice from his ministers on what he should do. When one of the ministers, Riyadh Ibrahim, suggested that Saddam temporarily step down from office to promote peace negotiations, Ibrahim’s chopped-up body was delivered to his wife the next day (www.foreignaffairs.org).

In the same war, came one of the most renown and horrifying episodes of Saddam’s tyrannical regime. On March 16th of 1988, Saddam became the first world leader in the modern era to sadistically use chemical weapons on his own people. His goals were simple: to quiet his critics and leave little doubt as to who was in charge; to terrorize and eradicate the Kurdish population in northern Iraq; and to test his new chemical and biological toys. He attacked 40 villages and killed 5,000 women, children and elderly. At least 10,000 more were severely and irreversibly debilitated in the attacks. In the years that followed, many died of mortifying complications, diseases such as different form of cancer, and birth defects (www.state.gov). This man killed thousands of his own people and our country does not even seem to realize that. If this does not convince our educated society that Saddam was an evil, corrupt man who needed to be overthrown, than nothing will.

I never have been that impressed with Time Magazine so it was fairly easy for me to disregard their article that revealed who they thought were the top dictators of the world. Also, I think the president has done an exceptional job handling all the negative press that he gets in respect to the war. Hardly a day goes by where it is not pointed out that his approval ratings are in the toilet. How much does that affect his confidence to be criticized daily because people do not approve of the job he has done? Well, I do not know and I do not think many people really know. He has conducted interviews where he has said that he is not worried about his ratings; he is just worried about doing his job. How would you like to be criticized daily and reminded that no one like you?

Here is a little hypothetical situation to consider. If I were to walk outside and see my neighbor, Billy Bob, beating his wife or kids, I would consider it my duty as a good person to intervene and help the wife and kids. In that same respect, it is America’s duty as a sovereign nation to help out the less fortunate nations and to spread the freedom of democracy to other nations. The national media does not focus on how Iraq is now a somewhat functional democracy. Iraqi citizens are enjoying some freedoms that they would have been punished for dreaming about under Saddam’s rule.

Do not get me wrong. I am not a big fan of war by any means. Peace is a good thing and is definitely preferable, but sometimes it just does not work out that way. Sometimes the right thing is not always the popular thing. Anyone can say what they will about my opinions on the war.

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