Rise in Iraqi violence leads to CFHS reflection

By Sheila Moussavi 2007

Nov. 1 marks the end of the bloodiest month for U.S. soldiers in Iraq in over a year, totaling 101 casualties, and this tragic figure has led to both Democrats and Republicans more intensely questioning some of the fundamental aspects of the War in Iraq.

The questions raised concerning the effectiveness of this war against terror and the declining security of both Iraqis and Americans have removed all certainty from the now-famous cliché, “Stay the course.”

Though the Iraq War has been called the War on Terrorism, these recent events have caused some uncertainty among both parties about whether our presence in Iraq is actually helping prevent terror. While some believe that invading Iraq has, by definition, reduced terrorism elsewhere in the world, an increasing proportion of the population seems to believe that this war has been unsuccessful in that respect.

More and more Americans seem to be agreeing with sentiments like those from CFHS psychology teacher Charles Blair-Broeker that “there are far more effective ways to combat the war on terrorism.”

Still worse than being ineffective, however, is being counter-productive. Junior Elizabeth Cozart is among those who believe we’re causing more harm than good. “The war in Iraq is only creating more hatred against the U.S. as well as more terrorists,” she said.

Others, like junior Stephanie Koltookian, said that this war could have, at least theoretically, prevented terrorism. “I think [the war] was meant to help and ideally it would have, but the people in Iraq aren’t responding very well to what we are trying to do, so it’s eating up resources that could be put to better use.”

Regardless of the reasoning, the general consensus is that something isn’t quite working. One controversial suggestion that would add a measure of predictability to the war is implementing certain timelines for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The practicality of such a measure, however, has also been questioned. While, according to a Newsweek poll, 63 percent of American adults support the addition of timelines, others do not think they would properly reflect reality.

As CFHS English teacher Marguerite Demoss pointed out, “We haven’t met previous timelines; I don’t know why we would now.”

According to a Johns Hopkins study, since our occupation of Iraq, the mortality rate there has tripled. As a result, many people are wondering whether our presence has bettered or worsened the living situation in Iraq. Still worse, to some there is no question at all. “To me, it’s pretty obvious when thousands and thousands are dying,” Blair-Broeker said.

On the other end, Koltookian is among those who believe our effect on the Iraqi living situation cannot be accurately reflected in numbers. She said, “I think it depends on which groups we are talking about because under Saddam [Hussein] we weren’t sure what was going to happen to them. We were responding to a threat that might happen in the future—not today.”

Meaningful or not, these numbers are most responsible for causing debate among Americans. To make matters worse, the issue isn’t limited to Iraqi security; it concerns American troops too.

During the month of October, there were 101 U.S. casualties in Iraq, making it the bloodiest month in over a year. Naturally, the enormity of this was bound to raise concern. Some, like Cozart, consider this statistic to be sadly inevitable. “It shows that the longer we stay there and don’t change our policy, the worse things will get.”

According to Cozart, as long as dramatic change is not enforced in Iraq, nothing can prevent the conditions from getting worse. Social studies teacher Chris Dyvig added, “I think all Americans should be concerned because things obviously aren’t improving over there.”

Given the unceasing casualties of this war and increasing concern from the public, it isn’t surprising that many Republicans are pulling away from President Bush and his War on Terror. Their reasoning for withdrawing support is clearly debatable.

Some believe this is a sincere attempt to remedy past mistakes. These people might agree with Cozart that this late reaction only “demonstrates how poorly President Bush is doing his job.” Others, however, are slightly more cynical.

Another popular belief is that prominent Republicans are pulling away in only an overdue attempt to, as Demoss put it, “save their political skins.”

According to Dyvig, this reaction is hardly unexpected: “It’s not surprising when [Bush’s] approval rating is below 40 percent.”

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