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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Americans defend Baghdad; Iraqi soldiers won’t go there

American soldiers go halfway around the world to defend Baghdad, but some Iraqi soldiers balk at traveling across their country.

American Maj. Gen. James Thurman said last week that only about 9,000 Iraqi soldiers are in the capital city, while the U.S. has 15,000 there.

About 128,000 Iraqis are now trained and equipped to do the job, according to the U.S., but Gen. Thurman explained that Iraqi soldiers generally join battalions in their own regions, and "due to the distance, (they) did not want to travel into Baghdad."

Iraq is a little bigger than California. We suspect their reluctance involves more than distance. Sectarian tensions, suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices and snipers make it dangerous to travel to Baghdad and to be there. Maybe they care more about their home regions than about their country.

This situation raises at least three questions.

First, are Iraqi soldiers unwilling to fight for their own capital because they know the Americans will do it for them?

Second, do they care enough about having a unified and independent nation to put their own lives on the line?

Third (and most important), why should Americans defend a country that won't defend itself?

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