Cindy Sheehan and Iraq

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Written by Kyle Lambert

It is hard not to take some kind of pleasure from the position in which the now famous protestor Cindy Sheehan has placed George W. Bush. Under most circumstances the U.S. President would have simply scoffed at the request of an anti-war protestor to meet face to face and discuss plans for withdrawal from Iraq.

However, Cindy Sheehan has more leverage than most. As I’m sure most people are aware, Ms. Sheehan’s son is among the growing list of soldiers killed in action in the continuing war in Iraq, putting her in a position that simply cannot be ignored by President Bush, whether it be because of sympathetic or political reasons. On one hand, Bush is a father and can likely understand the heartache a parent would feel upon receiving such terrible news. On the other, Bush is struggling badly in the American polls at the moment and has an approval rating below 50-percent, a rarity for a war-time President. Either way you look at it, George Bush has no choice but to at least address Cindy Sheehan’s concerns.

In my opinion, Bush’s response thus far has been the correct one, though only provided that he does eventually meet with Ms. Sheehan once the media circus dies down. The American President has continued to express his belief that American soldiers must stay in Iraq, while also expressing sympathy for his newest political adversary’s concerns and pains. It is my personal belief that despite his best efforts, George W. Bush has actually got this one right. Let me explain:

I am in no position to scoff at the pains felt by parents who have had to bury their children and spouses who have had to bury their significant others as a result of a poor decision to invade Iraq. I am also not naïve enough to believe that the American invasion of Iraq was done with any sort of altruistic reasoning behind it.

While one can argue for the application of Michael Walzer’s Just War theory and note that the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and an effort to democratize Iraq are reasons enough to invade Iraq, I rebut that such a claim is foolish given the true motives of the key American figure who decide to order the invasion.

However, now that Americans are in Iraq and after the U.S. Army has caused so many civilian deaths and so much destruction throughout the country, they have no choice but to finish what they’ve started. A complete withdrawal from Iraq right now, as many on the far left and right are seeking, would be devastating for Iraq and its people. The country would be left in the chaos in which it currently subsists and would almost certainly be left in a semi-permanent state of civil war, while being also unable to shield itself from the desires of its neighbours.

One cannot claim as fact that Iraqis are collectively unhappy with American soldiers banging down their doors late at night in search of terror suspects, but it would be hard to believe that not to be true. A continued U.S. military presence in Iraq does not mean the status quo. Changes must be made, including efforts to recruit an Iraqi security force without having young men stand outside in line-ups so long that their would-be murderers don’t even have to plan an attack. But, all in all, the U.S. military and administration in Iraq must do everything it can to help assure the safety of those Iraqi civilians that seek to live peacefully and without fear of being killed by either Americans or fellow Iraqis who are fighting not just for the removal of Westerners from their country but to kill all those who show any kind of cooperation with the occupation.

Perhaps I am the naïve one in asking parents and relatives like Cindy Sheehan to allow their loved ones to continue to fight a very dangerous battle in a land far from their home. But given the current state of Iraq and the causes of that condition, I believe it is the duty of Iraq’s occupiers to assure a safe and peaceful existence for a population that has already suffered far too much.


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