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Hold Those Responsible for Iraq Accountable

I've been struggling to write something new about the war in Iraq but failed to find any appropriate words. Despite everything we now know about the war, the U.S. occupation continues. While policymakers procrastinate and parse the finer points of withdrawing all U.S. troops, more flag-covered coffins relentlessly emerge from the bowels of giant wing-tipped hearses in Dover, Del.

Perhaps simply reiterating the continuing human cost remains the single best hope for ending our grotesque national nightmare. I scan the stark daily death lists and pause to wonder about the now forever unrealized dreams, experiences, loves and loved ones behind the abbreviated personal data.

As I write this, the Department of Defense has identifed 2,928 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. The following deaths were confirmed for the last week:

Beerler, Brent E., 22, Lance Cpl., Marines; Jackson, Mich.

Castro, Jesse J.J., 22, Sgt., Army; Chalan Pago, Guam.

Ciraso, Kristofer R., 26, Staff Sgt., Army; Bangor, Me.

Cote, Budd M., 21, Lance Cpl., Marines; Marana, Ariz.

Davis, Gloria D, 47, Maj., Army; St. Louis.

Dillon, Matthew V., 25, Cpl. Marines, Aiken, S.C.

Dunkelberger, Brent W., 29, Sgt., Army; New Bloomfield, Pa.

Farris, Billy B., 20, Cpl. Army; Bapchule, Ariz.

Ford, Philip C., 21, Specialist, Army; Freeport, Tex.

Gathereaux, Jay R., 26, Specialist, Army; Thibodaux, La.

Gibbs, Nicholas R., 25, Speciaist, Army; Stockesdale, N.C.

Gibson, Brennan C., 26, Sgt. Army; Tualatin, Ore.

Gifford, Michah R., 27 Specialist, Army; Redding, Calif.

Haines, Kenneth W., 25, Specialist, Army; Meridian, Miss.

Huffman, Jason I., 23, Cpl. Army; Conover, N.C.


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Krege, Travis C., 24, Pfc. Army; Cheektowaga, N.Y.

Libby, Dustin J., 22, Cpl., Marines; Presque Isle, Me.

Linck, Henry W., 23, Staff Sgt. Army; Manhattan, Kan.

Love, Robert L., Jr., 28, Staff Sgt. Army; Meridian, Miss.

Madden, Joshua B.,21, Specialist, Army, Sibley, La.

McAnulty, Brian P. 39, Master Sgt., Marines; Vicksburg, Miss.

McClung, Megan M., 34, Maj. Marines; Coupville, Wash.

Miller, Clinton J., 23, Lance Cpl., Marines; Greenfield, Iowa.

Miller, Marco L., 36, Specialist, Army; Longwood, Fla.

Mokri, Yari, 26., Specialist, Army; Pflugerville, Tex.

Murphy, Shawn M. 24, Pfc., Army; Fort Bragg, N.C.

Patriquin, Travis L., 32, Capt. Army; Tex.

Pomante, Vincent J. III, 22, Specialist, Army; Westerville, Ohio.

Ryndych, Yevgeniy, 24., Army; Brooklyn, N.Y.

Watson, Cody G., 21, Lance Cpl., Marines; Oxford, Ala.

One could argue that these recent deaths are more tragic because the war has already been lost. However, because this immoral and illegitmate war should never have been fought, ''victory'' was never an option and every lost life is senseless.

And, while these deaths are personal tragedies, the Iraq war is not a tragedy. The word ''tragedy'' implies fate, a terrible loss due to an irremediable calaminity that is somehow beyond human control. Every death, every injury in this war should weigh heavily on the conscience of those who carefully planned, implemented, lied about, and continue it. This assumes they possess something remotely resembling a conscience.

Characterizing the Iraq war as a tragedy lets those responsible off the hook. If there is any justice they will be held accountable.

Gary Olson

Gary Olson

Gary Olson is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. His most recent book is Empathy Imperiled: Capitalism, Culture and the Brain (NY: Springer, 2013.) Contact:

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