Saturday, July 4, 2009

The value of a soldier's sacrifice

Photograph of two female american soldiers.Image via Wikipedia

Two years ago I asked: "If the US were to announce start the long process of withdrawing troops from Iraq today, what would that mean for those who have already died over the last four years during the war with and occupation of that country?" Since that time George W. Bush has left office and Barack Obama has become the new Commander-in-Chief.

While Mr. Obama has taken steps leading to the beginning of the drawback of US troops in Iraq, he has decided to send many more additional troops to Afghanistan to fight against the renewed and growing Taliban forces which have been gaining strength since the US switches its military focus from Afghanistan to Iraq.

I also noted a popular sentiment about the value of a soldier's sacrifice:
It is interesting to me that one point of agreement among some of the most vocal supporters of continuing the occupation and the most vocal supporters of ending the occupation is the notion that unless the cause is just and the mission is complete, there is no value to the sacrifice made by our soldiers. In fact, last night on Alan Colmes Show (radio) one caller began screaming and had to be cut off for obscene language because he claimed that if we leave Iraq before victory is achieved the thousands of US servicemen and women who have already perished in the conflict will have laid down their lives in vain.

What if there is no way to make significant and lasting improvements to the political situation, violence, and socio-economic stability in Iraq through a continued major US military presence? What if America and its allies have done what they can, and continued military investment in Iraq at this point in history is going to produce rapidly diminishing returns? For the sake of argument, what does that mean for those soldiers who have already died carrying out this foreign policy? For those who continue to die?
To which I offered and repeat this answer...
The value of an American soldier's sacrifice is not in the outcome of the battle in which he or she died, nor in the outcome of the campaign in which the battle was fought, the conflict in which the campaign was executed, or the correctness of the foreign policy which precipitated the campaign. A US soldier has devoted his or her life to defending the principles embodied in the Constitution. It is the responsibility of the Congress and Commander-in-Chief to make sure that such sacrifice is appropriate. There is a difference between saying that a soldier died needlessly and that a soldier dies for nothing. Many people believe that the members of our nation's armed services are dying needlessly, but no one should believe these deaths are pointless.
Let us remember that not just this Fourth of July weekend but every day until the last of our soldiers are out of active war zones and US military occupations are ended.
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