News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


We can hate the war and love the warriors

Every month, THE DAILY receives at least one letter accusing it (or accusing "left-wing liberals") of hypocrisy for being disappointed in the lack of progress in the war in Iraq.

It is painful to read accusations that claim we demean American soldiers and give comfort to the enemy. That is not our intention.

We support American troops completely. We have the utmost respect for those men and women who put their lives on the line when ordered to do so. That they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice says much about their character and courage. We are always glad to see them return home. We wish they would always return home safe and sound, but that, unfortunately, is not always the case.

But it was not the soldiers' decision to go to Iraq.

Those who make the decision to send soldiers to war and put lives at risk must always do so as a last resort. Our country's leaders are obligated to have a defined, worthwhile purpose before invading a sovereign country, and they should have a specific goal and a plan to get our troops out before they commit to such drastic measures.

The United States is the greatest country in the world. It is also the most powerful. But with great power comes great responsibility. Our leaders must be certain that there is a danger to our freedom and our nation — or at least to our allies — before placing our troops in harm's way.

In the case of Iraq, our leaders failed to fulfill that obligation. They failed our soldiers and the American people.

Who, exactly, is the enemy?

Are the more than 25,000 innocent civilians — men, women and children — who have been killed in Iraq because they were caught in the crossfire the enemy? The Iraqi citizens had nothing to do with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Are they the enemy because they happen to live in a country that a ruthless tyrant previously ruled — a tyrant who we have captured and who has posed no risk to anyone for nearly 20 months? Are they the enemy because they subscribe to a religion that counts among its members radicals who have no tolerance and know only hate for the West?

The terrorists who continue to cross the borders into Iraq to kill troops and civilians are the enemy. The insurgents who refuse to let peace break out in the Middle East are the enemy.

Would those terrorists continue to enter Iraq if our soldiers were no longer there? Isn't it possible that they would not be there but for our presence? If our troops leave, whom would the suicide bombers target?

Our love for the Americans risking their health and lives every day is precisely the reason we express our disappointment in the war. With 1,800 U.S. soldiers dead and many thousands of others permanently injured, we have to ask the questions:

What is it we are fighting for? What have we gained from all of the death and destruction? What have we lost?

This war has nothing to do with 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction as the world was led to believe in the months leading up to the March 2003 military campaign.

Is it about bringing democratic government to a reluctant nation — and eventually, region — that has known civil conflict since at least biblical times?

Is it about oil?

We wish we knew what this war was truly about.

We hate it. But we love the warriors and pray they return home safe, sound and soon.

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