You’re sitting there in your chair, still dazed, hungover and caught up in a blurry haze of green that hasn’t faded from St. Patrick’s Day, while thousands of miles away, a small child stands in the street, amid the chaos, destruction and rubble and thinks, in his own native tongue, “Why?”
Picture him for just a second and consider this: Can you think about what’s going on so far away? Can you think about the whys?
Namely, why is it that after five full years, the banners of “Mission Accomplished,” the claims the insurgency is in its “last throes,” the taunts of “bring-em on,” etc. that it still goes on?
Why is it that the numbers – nearly 4,000 U.S. deaths; 90,000 (and likely much greater) Iraqi civilian deaths; 5.1 million civilians who have had to flee abroad or leave their homes; over $500 billion (and a further $12 billion per month) in financial costs – do not even begin to tell the story?
Why is it that the presumptive Republican nominee for president makes claims that we can afford to stay in Iraq for 100 years and has the gall to make jokes about bombing Iran, which he does not even seem to understand is a country of predominantly Shia Muslims, a sect distinctly separate from al-Qaeda (made up of Sunni extremists)?
Why is it that the likely Democrat nominee for president apparently only bases his public plan for resolving the conflict in Iraq on a best-case scenario?
Why is it that our current president, when he takes breaks from tap dancing, makes speeches telling us that if we don’t win, they’ll follow us home?
Why invoke the notion of following us home?
Doesn’t that suggest that they haven’t found us before? Might they not already be in the possession of maps? (Which, contrary to the Miss Teen America contestant’s belief, there is quite an abundance of).
And why the constantly ambiguous usage of the word “they,” making it impossible to tell the difference between al-Qaeda – which has been estimated at as low as 2-5 percent of the Sunni insurgency – and the majority of unrelated rebel sects? Why has our attention been so diverted, allowing al-Qaeda to regroup and become, according to a U.S. intelligence report, as strong as it was before that fateful day?
Furthermore, why is it that our government has been able to lump together this fight and its endless war on terror to justify the bending of previously unbendable concepts, like the ideas that torture can never be an acceptable means to an end and that Americans are entitled to basic privacy?
Why is it impossible to even define victory – even just in Iraq – at this point? Why is it that we are told the surge has been successful when its intended goal – political reconciliation – has not been achieved?
Why does the violence being down make it an acceptable level? For that matter, why even suggest that there is an acceptable level?
But mostly, why have people not demanded to do more for our country in this time, leaving the burden of sacrifice only on our troops and their families?
In our so-called post 9/11 world, why have we acquiesced to this notion of our government: that people should live their lives as normal, go out on shopping trip and forget about those who actually have to fight overseas? Why did they dole out tax cuts instead of telling people to help?
Why do we listen only when the fear card is pushed and we are scared into thinking we are in imminent danger? And even then, why do we allow ourselves to be too frightened and afraid to actually comprehend what is going on? Why do we accept simplification? Why do we allow ourselves to be divided and isolated when we should be working together?
Have the famous words of Kennedy really become so empty? Or are they still relevant? Of all years, is this not the chance to finally change that egocentric mindset? To make that sea change? To reject fear? To believe again?
Jonas Kane is a sophomore English major from Harrisburg, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]