Jeremy M. Loveless. Nathanael J. Doring. Richard A. Bennett. James A. Funkhouser. J. Adan Garcia. According to a recent article in the New York Times, these are the names of the five soldiers killed in Iraq over the three-day Memorial Day weekend this year. If I had nothing else to say in this column, I would also name the 24 soldiers killed over Memorial Day weekends since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, along with the 4,000-some Americans who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since the wars in those countries began. I wish I could also name the Afghan and Iraqi dead, but I do not know anyone who keeps track of their names.
Can you outsource a war? The Bush administration seems to be trying to do just that in Iraq, where it has relied to an unprecedented extent on private companies such as Halliburton and Blackwater to prosecute the war. Before the recent surge in troops, there were about as many private contractors—125,000—in the war zone as regular troops. Between 25,000 and 50,000 of these contractors protect military bases and the Green Zone, guard key personnel, provide escorts for convoys and train Iraqi soldiers. Who is accountable for the close to $4 billion that has gone to these “security services"? And to whom are these mercenaries accountable morally and legally?
A Christian leader from Iraq has warned that Christianity may disappear from his country if no action is taken to stem the hardships faced by this minority community in the predominantly Muslim country.
As the last U.S. troops in President Bush’s military buildup were deployed in Iraq in mid-June, a number of Shi‘ite and Sunni clerics called for unity among Muslims, with some imams using their sermons to blame the U.S. military presence for sectarian tensions.
President Bush has become what he said he would be, a uniter: both conservatives and liberals are united in thinking that he has taken the country off track. In what seems to be a protracted lame-duck period for the president, pundits are already speculating about the post-Bush era.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser in the Carter administration, believes that the Bush administration’s use of the term “war on terror” has created a culture of fear that’s had “a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America’s psyche and on U.S. standing in the world” (Washington Post, March 25).
One of the lesser-known calamities of the Iraq war is the flood of refugees it has produced. According to United Nations officials, about 2 million Iraqis have fled the country since the start of the war—mostly to Jordan and Syria—and almost as many Iraqis have been displaced inside their own country.
Mainline church leaders are expressing opposition to President Bush’s plan to escalate U.S. troop presence in Iraq. Some clergy drew parallels to Martin Luther King’s impassioned pleas decades ago against the ultimately fruitless American war in Vietnam.
During the height of the Vietnam War, Bill Moyers was President Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary. It was his responsibility to explain to the press and the world what was happening and why the U.S. was doing what it was doing. He was also present as the Johnson administration declared war on poverty, launched its Great Society programs and signed civil rights legislation.
Former President Gerald R. Ford, praised in death as a low-key healer for the nation in the troubled aftermath of the White House Watergate scandals and the Vietnam War, was eulogized in a succession of Episcopal services at the turn of the new year.