View From Lodi, CA: Five Years, 4000 Dead. How Much Longer? How Many More?
March 28, 2008, 04:00 AM
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As an opinion page columnist, I normally get a certain amount of satisfaction if a view I subscribe to turns out correctly.

But in the case of the Iraq War, I take cold comfort in having opposed the conflict since day one, when President George Bush first announced his "shock and awe" campaign based on lies and manipulated intelligence.

The war is now five years old. More than 4,000 American men and women have been killed and tens of thousands of our allies and innocent Iraqi citizens are dead,

Unlike others—Hillary Clinton comes to mind—who conveniently pretend that their thinking about the wisdom of the Iraqi conflict has changed, or that they were initially mislead, my position is down in black and white on these pages dating back to 2003.

In my first column about the war, I wrote these two sentences: "Bush has put his political future on the line" and "Bush`s mission is iffy."

And in my most recent on Veteran`s Day 2007, in reference to the suicide rate of 17 per 100,000 troops, I said: "The thought that a young man or woman could enlist and fight for his country in the Middle East, only to die at his own hand, is another ugly chapter in an increasingly senseless war."

Escaping thoughts of the endless war is impossible.

Last Sunday, during the White House Easter Egg roll, I watched George and Laura, mother Barbara and daughter Jenna (who with her sister Barbara could have volunteered if indeed the Bush family thinks the war is such a patriotic venture) happily celebrating the most joyous day on the Christian calendar.

As the president frolicked with a 6-foot-tall Easter bunny, roadside bombs and rocket attacks killed four U.S. service men and 61 Iraqis.

The nation received the assurances of Vice-President Dick Cheney and press secretary Dana Perino, unpersuasively, that the president grieves for every lost soul.

How did our soldiers spend Easter? No green lawns for them to bask in the warm sunshine, no hand shaking with Dallas Cowboy great Troy Aikman and no platitudes from the Bush family.

But I`m sure they prayed hard to get home safely and rejoin their families.

In war, though, things don`t always work out.

Earlier this week, I received an e-mail (his address is here) from Sgt. Peter Macdonald, U. S. Marine Corp, who served in Vietnam.

In his message`s subject line, Macdonald wrote: "One Life; Bush Will Take It"

Here are excerpts; readers interested in the entire mail can contact me and I will forward it:

"I have but one life to give to my country, Bush will take it. Is this not the truth that our President has killed over 4,000 U.S. military to create a legacy for himself? Bush uses our U.S. military`s lives as currency to buy his way into history. We the people elect these criminals and trust them with our country`s future.

"I have violated no laws and I am not an angry person. I believe so much in the United States. I will stand up as a U.S. Marine and speak the truth openly and without fear even though the truth does not matter any more. We all must correct the wrongs in government no matter what the personal costs are."

Macdonald`s reference to the criminals we elect is unsettling. As November draws nearer, our presidential choices are among three who have little credibility on the war—or anything else for that matter.

They are Clinton who voted for the Iraq war, Barack Obama who unconvincingly promises to end it, and John McCain who pledges to carry on until "victory"—whatever that means—is achieved. 

If, as I wrote, Bush gambled his political future on Iraq in 2003, the verdict is in. He lost.

History will remember Bush as a bigger warmonger than Lyndon Johnson.

But the far bigger losers are the families of the dead as well as the rest of Americans like Macdonald who because of the Iraq War will pay for decades emotionally and financially.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.