Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blowing Out the Candles for Iraq

On March 20, 2003 all I could think about was my birthday. The next day, I would turn sweet sixteen. My parents would lavish me with gifts. My friends would serenade me over cake and soda with the birthday song. Every perfect detail that epitomizes a teenage girl’s birthday was scheduled to make an appearance in my life. But then, the celebration came to an end before it started. President Bush declared war.

Bombs flew over the airspace in Iraq while my parents and I watched the news from our living room. Scenes of bombs flying from the sky looked reminiscent of the post-attack battleground from the 1996 alien-thriller “Independence Day” with Will Smith and Bill Pullman. My 15-year-young stare focused in on the history being shot before my eyes. It was really happening. We were at war.

American occupation in Iraq is closing in on six years now. To me, this makes no sense. And, to be perfectly honest, I’m pretty sure the majority of my fellow Americans have no idea why we’re still there either.

Iraqi’s don’t want us there. We’re spending money we don’t have during a vast economic decline on a war most people don’t want to fight. This needs to end.

The Wall Street Journal announced today that the Iraqi parliament hopes to pass a security deal that would call for U.S. troops to withdraw at the end of 2011[1]. If Iraq can take the initiative, why can’t we?

According to the New York Times, troops and equipment under the Bush administration were so overtaxed that the Pentagon does not have enough of either for the

fight in Afghanistan – a much more important war, at least for national security’s sake – let alone money to confront inevitable threats in the future[2].

So, not only do Americans have no idea what’s going on in Iraq but we also don’t have the money to do anything about it. President-elect Barack Obama faces this issue. The man’s got quite the juggling act to perform come Inauguration Day.

It will be no easy task to fix a frail economy and play Commander-In-Chief, but someone’s got to do it. And, given the historical significance of this year’s presidential election, let’s just hope we chose the right man for the job.

Let’s put this into perspective – consider the recent bailout. The government solicited taxpayer’s money to bailout the banks. Now, the auto industry is in a similar situation. According to the Detroit Free Press, the amount of money the auto industry needs to be bailed out of trouble is equivalent of what American taxpayers are spending in Iraq[3]. It’s up to President-elect Obama to eradicate this problem.

Reallocated federal spending may help here. But, no one really has a quick fix. President-elect Obama said he knows he must earn the military’s respect by delivering on

some of his promises[4]. The Obama administration is expected to draft and deliver its first defense budget within three months of Inauguration Day. Obama also promised a troop

withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months of taking office if the conditions allow. All America can do now is wait.

When the clock strikes midnight on the 6th anniversary of the war in Iraq, the voice inside my head will silently pray for resolution. Who knows, maybe if I shut my eyes real tight and keep my fingers crossed while I blow out my birthday candles 24 hour later, that wish will come true.

# # #

[1] Chon, Gina. “Iraqi Cabinet Approves Security Deal.” The Wall Street Journal.

[2] Editorial. “A Military for a Dangerous New World.” The New York Times.

[3] Dzwonkowski, Ron. “What the critics of an auto bailout don’t get.” Detroit Free Press.

[4] Maze, Rick. “The Army under Obama.” Army News.

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