Deaths prove the U.S. is still at war

We should send a message by bombing Fallujah, Iraq, into the ground.

Fallujah will be the cemetery of Americans!”

So screamed a crowd of enraged Sunnis as they dragged the charred cadavers of civilian contractors through the streets of their city. Insurgents had lobbed grenades under the vehicle of these four Americans, proceeded to spray the flaming wreck with automatic gunfire and then brutalized the corpses. A throng of Iraqis, including women and children, tied three corpses to a bridge over the Euphrates River, chanting that every American who entered the city would meet the same grisly fate.

A newly liberated society has seized an old villain. Popular newspapers insist that the Americans invaded at the behest of the Jews, who longed to ethnically cleanse Iraq and seize its land as real estate. Solemn vigils and furious demonstrations lament the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, mastermind of bombings that killed hundreds of Israelis.

Yassin’s successor promptly branded President George W. Bush an “enemy of God,” and thousands assemble throughout Iraq to affirm that Bush is a wayward crusader whose very existence is a blight and a scourge upon Islam.

We are told that it is a small network of unrepentant Baathists and marauding jihadists who continue to kill us, and that the vast majority of Iraqis accept our presence, grateful for their liberation. We are assured that the loss of American lives and U.S. dollars is necessary in the birthing of a stable democracy in what was once the epicenter of Arabic totalitarianism, and that, like dominos, the autocracies of the region will democratize, Americanize and join us as full and equal partners in the international community.

We are told that more Americans should be martyred to bestow democracy upon the very people who are killing us.

It is not only deposed officials and foreign jihadists who slaughter our soldiers. Children cheered to see the blackened bodies of American patriots mutilated by their fathers, ridiculed by their mothers and strung up by their neighbors as a grotesque monument to human savagery.

Our solution is to herd the mob into the ballot booth where, instead of killing us with grenades and bullets, they can attack us by proxy with the missiles we furnish and the tanks we provide. And our soldiers remain in the middle. Squatting in the desert or passing through the shelled-out streets,

seeing some citizens cheering, others jeering, many quiet and morose, inscrutable – any could be a Baathist, an al-Zarqawi disciple or a genuine member of al-Qaida.

When an adolescent runs toward the Humvee, excited and agitated, is it to offer the praise and love of a liberated citizen or to explode a bomb, shatter American bodies and drive out his benefactors? Does our soldier fire and risk spilling innocent blood? Does he hesitate and perish in a hail of shrapnel, leaving his children fatherless and his wife a widow – more casualties in the effort to bring democracy to a land that plainly does not want it? And does he wonder why the United States now consigns its children to that miasma of doubt, regret and slaughter?

Some have said the terrorists were trying to send a message in Fallujah. We should send a message by bombing Fallujah into the ground. We are not conducting a peacekeeping operation; we are engaged in a war. We should either treat it as such or withdraw unilaterally so Iraq can enjoy the anarchy and civil war it has bought with the lives of our soldiers. We will not deter the terrorists by building a country for our executioners, nor will we avenge our fallen by sacrificing others to win the hearts and minds of their killers.

Christopher Oster is a political science junior. He welcomes comments at [email protected]mn.edu