Every death is a tragedy. While I was typing up today’s comment, I heard the announcement that Odai and Qusai Hussein, Saddam Hussein’s two sons, were confirmed killed in a firefight in Iraq. My initial reaction was a mixture of happiness and sadness. I was happy while thinking of those people who will now be able to sleep better tonight knowing that these two thugs will never torture or kill another Iraqi, and I was sad because their acts were so heinous that they had earned their deaths. Unlike some people, I do not rejoice in the death of others even when their death is more than warranted because I mourn the loss of opportunities in their life to do good for others. I see what they could have done, and I am saddened that their lives were cut short either by accident, disease, acts of others, or by their own acts bringing down the full judgment of law upon themselves.
If you have been watching the nightly news recently as I have, you can’t have missed the almost nightly reporting of another soldier killed in Iraq during that day. This steady death toll has been termed by Jim Quinn, a morning talk show host out of Pittsburgh, as the “Vietnamification of Iraq.” During the Vietnam War, the nightly news often reported the number of US servicemen killed or wounded that day. This constant drip drip drip of death turned around the public opinion of the war, and this loss of will eventually led to our loss of the war. You can see how this same drip drip drip of death in Iraq is starting to do the same thing now. Each of these deaths is a tragedy, and they are mourned by family and their fellow servicemen. There is no denying the anguish the families go through with each death, but are these deaths really all that newsworthy beyond their families?
I did a quick search on the Center for Disease Control’s website, looking at the latest record of US fatalities. I then changed these from yearly totals to an average daily death rate. Here is how the year 2000 data breaks down: each day we averaged 11 drownings, 11 deaths by fire, 33 suffocations, 38 deaths by falling, 55 poisonings, 119 fatalities in traffic accidents, and one or two deaths in Iraq. OK, so the last didn’t happen in 2000, but you can see how small the number is when compared to the average death toll here in the States. This is why I am puzzled sometimes at the hand-wringing I see at times over these deaths. If you want to compare this to a war, we averaged almost 220 deaths per day during World War II, but the U.S. was more determined and driven in that conflict than we are today. Most people saw the real need for fighting then, and they were willing to do what was needed to rid the world of the Axis powers. We are currently faced by a new Axis, but I fear that we as a society do not have the strength of will to do what is needed to rid the world of the Axis of Evil today.
My father served 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, and I grew up understanding that my father could die in service. But I also understood from an early age that there were things well worth dying for, as one military commander put it: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” In addition to watching reports of the death of Saddam’s sons today, I watched the homecoming given to Pfc. Jessica Lynch. She was glad that some of the soldiers with whom she served made it home alive from Iraq. She was also hurt that some of her company didn’t, but she never questioned the need “when free-men shall stand / Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation . . . “
But there are three groups who do question this need, and they are easy to spot. First is the Democratic Party. Almost to a one, they have opposed this war and have questioned the need for us to even be in Iraq. Not even the heart-wrenching images of the freed children or the opening of mass graves appears to have validated this war for them. And with each soldier slain in Iraq, their voices grow louder, demanding we pull out. The second group is the major media. These print and television giants have been loud bullhorns proclaiming each death as proof that we should not be in Iraq. Each death is used by them to hammer home their leftist agenda of discrediting the President and his plans during this war on terrorism. And the third party involved is the scattered remains of the Baathist party in Iraq that is causing the deaths of our servicemen. It is clear that their goal is to slay an American each day to produce the drip drip drip of death needed to sap the will of America. Quinn has identified the common thread that runs through these three groups: they have all lost power, and are desperate to get it back. The real tragedy here is the way the Democrats and the major media are willing, if unwitting, accomplices in the Baathist party plan to use the tragedy of each death to attack the President. I hope that the death of Odai and Qusai Hussein will fortify the people of Iraq and help them to stand up to the horrors hiding in their midst. When the day comes that the Iraqi people justly rule themselves in peace, then the deaths in Iraq will have been worth the cost.