Friday, October 20, 2006


I'm in the middle of employee evaluations at work, so when I heard Maj General William Caldwell call the recent rise in violence in Iraq "disheartening" and "In Baghdad, Operation Together Forward has made a difference in the focus areas but has not met our overall expectations in sustaining a reduction in the level of violence, well it got me wondering.

Has not met our expectations? How about it is awful over there? It really sucks and these insurgents are pretty wily. But the overall expectations have not been met. Let's just throw some more soldiers, marines and sailors at the problem; we'll lose a few, but what the heck? OUR expectations haven't been met..... indeed!

Has not met our expectations is a bit of an understatement and it gets me thinking that there has been an awful lot of media attention to the occupation of Iraq lately, more specifically the death toll. 2787 US casualties, 76 in October; that's 3.8 dead American soldiers a day. Take a look around you. Are there even 76 people in your office? Gone, dead, never coming home. How does that feel?

It seems like there is a number that gets to the press and to the people of this country who don't ordinarily have to think about this war. That means there is an acceptable number; like maybe 50 dead Americans is okay in a month. That doesn't seem so bad, it's war afterall, 50 is acceptable, but when it gets to 70, well, maybe that's not a good number. Zero is the only number acceptable to me. 76 families this month will never be the same. That empty seat at the table on Thanksgiving and Christmas, birthdays and just on a regular meatloaf Wednesday night, THAT is the hole in the heart for all of us Gold Star Families.

Cheney says today he's not looking for a way out of Iraq "I know what the president thinks. I know what I think. And we're not looking for an exit strategy. We're looking for victory," Victory? It's past time for those 2 in the White House to start thinking there must be a better course in Iraq because this one isn't it.

And there are tensions between the the United States and the nearly 5-month-old government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Frustration over al-Maliki's failure to crack down on sectarian groups could be exacerbated by revelations that the prime minister ordered U.S. troops to release Mazin al-Sa'edi, a top organizer in western Baghdad for radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Caldwell said al-Sa'edi was freed after being detained Wednesday with five aides for suspected involvement in Shiite violence. Al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army has been blamed for sporadic attacks and for inspiring groups kidnapping and killing Sunnis.

If we cannot detain members of the Mahdi army, the biggest thugs and punks around, why are we still in Iraq?

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