Five years later…

The war in Iraq is now five years old and while the U.S. military deployed in the country has increasingly become more capable of quelling the insurgency, the violence which occurred in Iraq this past weekend seemed to be a microcosm of the entire U.S. effort there.

Numerous Iraqis were killed in suicide bombings. Raids by U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies killed many insurgents but also killed Iraqi civilians unintentionally in the process. The number of U.S. military personnel who have died in the war has hit 4,000.

Anyone denying the similarities of the Iraq War to the Vietnam War would seem to be off base. The number of U.S. dead in the Iraq War is much lower than the casualties suffered in Vietnam but that is no comfort to the mothers in the Tri-parishes who have lost sons in the war.

Though many of us here at the Tri-Parish Times were children during the Vietnam War, the agonizing questions prompted by the two conflicts are eerily similar: Was it absolutely necessary to become involved in the first place? How will we know when and if the situation is stabilized? Are we continuing the effort there because we need to, or are we just saving face?

On Monday, President Bush promised America an outcome in Iraq “that will merit the sacrifice.” With no end to the war yet proposed, this is an issue likely to be with us into the next presidential administration.

In the coming months, it will become increasingly easy to get sidetracked with the issues of the day – racism, which former Clinton administrator most resembles Judas and the like – but they all pale in comparison to America’s role in the struggle in the Middle East. Let’s hope the next president shares that view.