Published on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 by the Providence Journal
We're In For The Fight Of Our Lives
by Bob Kerr
Spread the word. The war's not over. People are still getting killed.
This week, a sniper took out one of our own. It was part of the small, dirty, hate-fueled war that will go on as long as we stay in Iraq.
We don't understand. We were supposed to be liberators and yet they pick off our soldiers and Marines one or two or three at a time because the hate runs so brutally deep and the insult of our presence festers.
But then we never did prepare for this war. We sent members of the hip-hop generation off to fight and figured their training and the high-tech wonder of their weapons would win the war, secure the peace and create a democratic model in the desert.
What is missing seems to be a basic appreciation of differences. It's happened before. We send the young into a strange land and don't get them ready for the jolting refusal of the locals to speak English or serve cheeseburgers or swoon over that brazen American charm.
We don't get our fighting men and women ready for centuries-old cultures that take offense at our disdainful and irreverent occupation. There are ugly and deadly confrontations because one side has made no attempt to understand the other.
And somebody's son or daughter gets shot in a place far from home by someone who hates Americans. And the best the government can tell the parents right now is that it's pretty sure the death was for a good cause. The evidence isn't really in yet, but as soon as it is it will no doubt be quickly shared with all those who have lost a loved one.
Meanwhile, there's chaos, and people who are there to cover this war that won't end say the resentment grows daily over the American failure to make things work and make the country safe.
And those who have fought in Iraq since way back in March say they have been there long enough and it is time for them to go home, which must sound very strange to those who spent three years fighting their way across Europe or 13 months fighting an elusive enemy in Vietnam.
But that's not all that sounds strange about this tangled mess we have gotten into and seem unable to get out of. There is the man Bill Moyers talked to on public television last week.
The man was a government defense analyst who has retired and is telling a story of deception and lies. He is saying that the U.S. government knew long before going to war in Iraq that the principal reason for the war -- that Saddam Hussein posed a real and immediate threat to the Unites States -- was false.
The analyst told of how a report that the Iraqis had bought nuclear materials from Niger had been shown to be based on forged documents. Yet it still found its way into a speech by President Bush to the American people.
The sense of betrayal is spreading. It must be. And the outrage. That must be spreading, too. Except it's tough to find. The great political voice of opposition has yet to emerge.
Maybe people are willing, even eager, to accept the backup justifications for the war -- removal of a hideous dictator, etc. . . . Maybe it hurts too much to think we've been had. Again.
And I, for one, sure don't want to see another generation of veterans come home to the words "Welcome home, sucker."
So maybe it doesn't really matter that the original reason for going to war might have been a fraud. Reality has become such a flexible thing, after all.
And maybe, just maybe, lying about oral sex is worse than lying about the reasons for sending people off to fight and die.
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