Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Be patient with Obama on Iraq? While how many more die?

We were at an Iraq Moratorium vigil in downtown Milwaukee last week when a young man stopped to say, with a rueful smile, "Can't you give him a little time?"

He was referring to the sign a couple of students were holding, calling for an end to "Obama's occupations."

The vast majority of the people at that vigil voted for Barack Obama. There may have been a few Green votes. I'd bet my bottom dollar there weren't any McCain backers in the crowd.

So, should we be patient?

I pointed out to the young man that while it's true Obama's only been in office a month, that's been enough time for him to decide to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, he's waffled on his campaign pledge to bring US troops home from Iraq in 16 months. And the report today is that he is leaning toward a 19-month withdrawal.

What's three more months when you've already been there for six years?

Not much in the grand scheme of things, right?

Unless, of course, you are one of the people who will lose their lives during those extra three months, or be wounded, or widowed, or have a loved one killed or maimed or permanently damaged psychologically.

Depending upon who's counting, more than a million Iraqis have died, several million have become refugees, and 740,000 or more women have been widowed -- almost 10 per cent of the female population between the ages of 15 and 80.

We don't know for sure how many Iraqis have been killed, because we don't even care enough to count their dead.

This is not a time to ask the antiwar movement to be patient, to quietly wait an extra three months.

It's time to ask the question John Kerry asked about Vietnam: Who will be the last one to die for this mistake?

We might add: How many will die for this mistake after Obama had said it would be over?