Pioneer Editorial: Marking a milestone: 4,000 dead
The United States noted a somber moment on Monday, as the death toll of U.S. soldiers in the five-year Iraq War reached 4,000. America is at a crossroads, between those who believe we're on a noble mission against terrorism and must continue that...
The United States noted a somber moment on Monday, as the death toll of U.S. soldiers in the five-year Iraq War reached 4,000.
America is at a crossroads, between those who believe we're on a noble mission against terrorism and must continue that fight unabated, to those who believe we're on a fool's errand in a corner of the globe which has been in turmoil for centuries and will continue to be so regardless of how long U.S. troops are there.
In some regards, both sides are right. Yet, most important, we must shape a direction in that region that ensures peace in the future, something that will make the sacrifice of 4,000 American lives worthy.
"One day, people will look back at this moment in history and say, 'Thank God there were courageous people willing to serve because they laid the foundation for peace for generations to come,'" President Bush said Monday.
In reaction, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Americans are asking how much longer their troops must sacrifice for an Iraqi government "that is unwilling or unable to secure its own future."
It appears the administration strategy is to reduce our forces in Iraq from the current 158,000 to about 140,000 by summer, and then freeze the numbers until an assessment can be made. That figure is still about 8,000 more than when the "surge" started last year.
A combination of things must happen. It's clear that Iraq can't stand on its own, that al-Qaeda is active and an insurgency remains. But the Iraqi government needs a greater push to become self-sufficient, to boost its military and police numbers to provide that nation's own security. That event is not occurring fast enough, and the delay is causing American lives.
Second, a greater push needs to be made for international intervention, especially from neighboring Arab countries which would gain much from peace in the region. Unfortunately, the United Nations isn't up to the task, as it has failed to bring peace to other hot spots in the world, such as Darfur. This would be a great opportunity for NATO, which has already proven itself as a peace-keeping force in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Perhaps such a coalition could include other interested nations, such as Russia, which have much to gain in oil sales.
The bottom line, however, remains that a peace-keeping force of strength, perhaps even at the 140,000 troop level that the United States will reach this summer, but that force should be composed of Middle Eastern nations and others, such as NATO or Russia, and not just American troops.
World peace is an objective only obtainable by world cooperation. Peace often needs to be secured and maintained through force or threat of force, but it needs to be a world endeavor, not just our nation.
So, yes, we want our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. But a peace-keeping mission remains there, and our forces need to be replaced by Iraqi forces and an international force. Such broad cooperation and collaboration would truly be a legacy of the 4,000, knowing they kicked-started peace and democracy in a region that hasn't known either.