One Woman's World
FOR THE CHILDREN, WE MUST STAY
by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- It's not a question now of whether or not our pre-emptive war-play in Iraq was morally or militarily justified. We're there and we have to stay.
Mornings, I catch up on world news and I hear: "Two more American soldiers were killed today near Saddam's hometown of Tikrit." The numbers, the names, the locations and the situations change daily, but the newly dead have only death as the common denominator.
I die a mother's death each time I see small Iraqi boys, no more than seven or eight years old, small fists raised, marching proudly beside the protesting Iraqi men, shouting for the American bastards to go home.
But we're there and we have to stay.
We have to stay, not because President George Bush, his Administration, and the Republican Party are drowning in egg facials and may lose the 2006 mid-term election over the madness in Iraq. We have to stay because somewhere in one of those newly painted schoolhouses, sitting at her very own new desk, is a little Iraqi girl about five or six years old who skipped happily off to school this morning and into this columnist's heart.
Occasionally, we catch a glimpse of them - those enchanting small Iraqi children dancing around an American soldier, hands outstretched to touch this uniformed giver of chocolates and freedom. But we are mostly subjected, by the horrible-news-is-the-best-news media, to the black smoke, and the separating of dead bodies into Americans, terrorists and Iraqi civilians.
Every war death reduces me, for I am a party to the main, and wish not to be separated from it, said a poetic brother, with slight modification by me.
Every day I have to deal with my own guilty relief when I hear that the terrorist dead - and even the Iraqi civilian dead - exceeds the number of American dead. I raised a very American fist and shouted "Yes!" when I heard the news of the deaths of Saddam Husseins's sadistic sons - and then, for days, I had to live with what I had done. For one brief, arrogant American moment I had celebrated the deaths of fellow human beings. I am not usually, by nature or spiritual inclination, that hawkish.
I doubt there is a person on the planet Earth who despises war more than I do. And I also doubt if there is a writer living who is more grateful than I am that I can live and express my opinions freely without fear of my front door being kicked in by two government baboons who would drag me off to a fiery furnace for foul-mouthed feminists.
I am sadly, and deeply, aware of the price American soldiers pay for my right to write. I pay it, too, in tears and fears. I have a daughter in the Navy, safely tucked - for now - stateside on a military base that can be reached by the nuclear warheads of that North Korean nut who ought to be posing as a poster boy for an insane asylum.
All war is insanity brought home in a body bag. There is no such thing as a "holy war" or a "civil war." The very phrases are ozymorons - contradictions of terms.
War is neither civil or holy. It is one group of people who think they have to kill another group of people in order to feel safe - or to protect their self-actualized gods. Sometimes it's simply because Group A wants what Group B has: gold, water, fields of dirt, oil.
No president, prime minister, dictator, tyrant or king has every turned to the mothers of its nation and asked: "How would you feel about letting us borrow your William and your Ann? We've got to go kill some people and we'd like to put them out front to do the dirty work." If the mothers of soldiers were allowed the exclusive, deciding vote of whether or not to go to war, there would be no more wars fought on the face of the Earth. The heads of state, the war-mongers (who lie if they say they don't love war), and the self-righteous religious fanatics, would have to find other ways to draw first blood, insure safety, take what doesn't belong to them, and retreat to fight another day. This, we mothers cry, is our glorious human history?
But as ugly and horrible as the unfinished war in Iraq is, we have to stay.
We set this piece of nefarious human history in motion and we have to stay because at least 70 percent of the Iraqi people are counting on us to stay. They have tasted freedom, and they have accepted its price.
We deserted them once and we must not do it again. Former President George Bush (Sr.) wanted history to reflect that he soundly whipped Saddam Hussein's tyrannical butt in exactly 100 days in 1991. Whip it he did, but it didn't stay whipped. We walked away too soon, and as we disappeared from sight, Iraqi citizens who had supported us turned to face, again, the torture chambers and the freshly dug, waiting mass graves.
But today my faraway Iraqi urchin skips off to school believing the new American desk is hers to keep forever, and the American crayons smell so delicious they must surely be good to munch on.
We're there and we have to stay ... for her.
Elizabeth T. Andrews is a former businesswoman and newspaper columnist now living in Cartersville, Ga., where she concentrates on writing poetry. She can be contacted at P.O. Box 816, Cartersville, GA 30120.