Disillusion that increases day by day...

When every autumn people said it could not last through the winter, and when every spring there was still no end in sight, only the hope that out of it all some good would accrue to mankind kept men and nations fighting. When at last it was over, the war had many diverse results and one dominant one transcending all others: disillusion- Barbara Tuchman

A friend of mine lost a son in Afghanistan. It was heartbreaking to hear the news. He loved his skate board and his pet turtles. He grew up into a tall, green eyed, thoughtful, caring and bright young man who scored almost a perfect score on his SAT.

I can't imagine the loss for his parents. They were initially against his entering the military, but were proud of his commitment and patriotism. They knew that in their hearts that they would support their son 100% no matter what decision he made.

Their twenty year old son had been in the US Army less than two years. He had deployed to Afghanistan as an MP or military police. He was actually training Afghanistan police cadets there.

An IED - improvised explosive device or road side bomb took his life as he and a few other members of his squad were on their way to the Afghanistan training site.

I know that this young man like many of us believed in creating a world without violence and war. That the only way to change the world is by taking action and unfortunately someone has to be there to effect it. Sadly it was another one of our brave service member - sadly it was my friend's son.

Will it ever be possible to bring about the peace that people in Iraq and Afghanistan so desperately need? That question is yet to be answered.

One must understand that Islamic extremists are not only being guided by their history. They are still enraged over the Mongolian invasion of 1253 and the ripping of the heart of Islam from Baghdad.

Our presence there today stirs religious fervor, anger and even rage. To these extremist we have invaded their sacred lands and are seen as occupiers. Our servicemen and women are seen as Crusaders. 

Al-Qaeda therfore rejoice in the loss of every American life. Victory to them is everything and their long-term view of success, is seen as their divine right.

I also understand that leaving Iraq too soon or in chaos, will be seen as a victory for Al-Qaeda. Their strategy from the beginning was to make us look bad, by creating bloodshed and chaos. They have accomplished this by playing Iraqis against each other.

Historically there has been a long-standing division between the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis. Iraq could still disintegrate into an all out civil war. If Iraqis continue to fall for this and chaos becomes rampant when we leave, Al-Qaeda will spin this not only as an outright win but as a religious victory as well. 

As a military veteran with good knowledge of the Middle East, I understand the precarious existing balance of power in the Middle East. I fear the implosion of Iraq will only serve to strengthen the power of Iran in the region and place in greater jeopardy both Israel and all of the moderate Arab states friendly to the United States.

Still it is hard for me to imagine any long term benefit of making Muslims there kill each other. My hope is that Al-Qaeda will be seen as the terrorists that they are. And when Iraqis no longer have foreign occupiers to blame for their problems, there will be a negative effect and outlook on their warlord centered lifestyles.

Since March 19, 2003 we have lost a total of 5530 brave men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. 15% or 882 of those brave soldiers who lost their lives have been between the ages of 18 and 20 years.

I remember reading about a toast at a dinner in Washington during the Vietnam war, by the Ambassador from France. You will recall that France was not at all friendly to the USA. It was therefore surprising to hear Ambassador Andre Malraux's toast as he raised his glass and said: "I raise my glass to the only nation that has waged war without loving it, achieved greatness without seeking it, and held in its arms the most powerful weapon without longing to use it."

We have kept this solemn principles. Even though we will never be able to turn back the clock on these two wars, wars that I believe we were not meant to fight. The disillusion in not winning these wars is far out weighed by the loss of our valuable national treasure.

Today I pray for peace and for the safe return of each of our brave men and women fighting there.

Today I pray for my friend's heart breaking loss, that they may one day find peace and acceptance.

Make it a peace reflecting kind of dia. 

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