Friday, June 25, 2004

Unacceptable Casualties 

I read that many Americans are now opposed to our efforts in Iraq because they question the high number of American soldiers killed, which now stands at about 850. Is that a large number? During that same time period more than forty thousand Americans died in traffic accidents, AIDS killed over ten thousand and cancer over half a million. Of course we place special importance on the deaths of our heroes, but in the end all deaths are tragic.

If we as a country are ready to surrender after incurring the loss of 850 soldiers, I fear for our future. In the Revolutionary War we lost over 4,000 – should we have given up and remained subjects of King George? In the Civil war almost half a million were lost, was that too many to free African Americans from the bonds of slavery? There is a terrible price to pay for freedom and the day we are unwilling to pay it, our freedom will be short lived. What would the world look like today if we had found unacceptable the deaths of several thousand GI's on D-Day? That is several thousand in one day! Did we start talking about FDR misleading us and did opposition politicians call him a miserable failure? No doubt there were mistakes and miscalculations, but we forgot politics and fought on to victory.

Today we are faced with a very different, but equally evil enemy. When we were attacked, we all agreed. Initially the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan had broad support with only fringe opposition. A few years later, having suffered historically miniscule war casualties, a significant portion of the American public is ready to retreat. There is a theory that when societies reach a level of wealth and comfort, they become suicidal. For the sake of my children I hope we are not there.

The war on terror is far from over and there will be many more casualties. Choosing not to fight will not save lives. Terrorists are still determined to strike against us and countries such as Syria, Iran, and North Korea are still ready to help them. Our victories in Afghanistan and Iraq have dealt blows, but the terrorists are still strong. We must morn the lost of our heroes, but remember the far greater consequences of surrender.


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