Yesterday, Stand Up! For Progress held a candlelight vigil to commemorate the 4,000 American soldiers killed in Iraq and the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The e-mail invitation I received for the event also mentioned that the event would include a discussion on how to end the war. Since I am currently deployed to Iraq and cannot attend the vigil, I would like to offer my suggestions and viewpoints.
While I agree that the sacrifices of our military should be recognized by this great nation, I beg to differ with the tone and intent of the vigil. We should not end our engagement in Iraq any time soon. This fledgling nation desperately needs America’s help to secure itself from internal and external threats. If we cut our losses and pull out, Iraq will descend into chaos and sectarian violence. We only need to look at the significant reduction in violence over the last nine months to see that we are making a positive difference here. However, the gains made can be easily reversed by a hasty withdrawal from Iraq. Watching the news about Iraq is frustrating even for me. It is akin to watching the stock market. One day things look good; the next two days, things seem dire. Still, it takes patience to engage in nation-building and a long-term perspective. On that account, the long-term health of Iraq is going up. This country is a much safer place compared to my first deployment in 2004.
Believe me, we all want to end the war and come home to our families. However, the only way to end the war is to continue to commit the resources and people of our nation to rebuilding, stabilizing, peacekeeping, and counter-insurgency in Iraq. We should discuss how to let our politicians know that we want a greater commitment, that we are willing to accept fuel taxes and higher income taxes, that we will take Iraqi refugees into America, and that we will volunteer to come to Iraq to serve in whatever capacity that we can. We will do all this because no other nation can or will help.
The Iraqi people are our friends and require our assistance. We cannot abandon them in their time of need. While we have sacrificed 4,000 of our sons and daughters to this conflict, the Iraqi people have sacrificed and endured far more.
Captain, United States Air Force