Selfish America

Something has been greatly bothering me about the way the American people have been treating the war in Iraq. It seems like the “cut and run” strategy has found the most favor with politicians as well as with the public. What is wrong with this picture?

Here in Chicago there are many gangs and, consequently, many gang wars. When these wars happen and shots are fired, typically the police are called to break it up and keep the peace. There are the city police, the county sheriff, and sometimes even the FBI when it comes to drug trafficking. And with the FBI sometimes come police from other countries as they try to crack down on the international drug trade. No one ever says that we should leave the gangs alone to kill each other and deal with their own problems. Why not? Well, perhaps it is because these things are happening in our own nation, in our cities. We want peace of mind and security for our neighborhoods, and we don’t want people killing people in our front yards. Okay, we have city police for that. But it doesn’t stop there. A lot of gang violence involves drugs, and drugs are usually smuggled in from other countries. Therefore, gangs violence becomes and international problem, not just a local problem. We do not expect gangs to work out their differences civilly and on their own. And we do not expect only the city police to be involved. We recognize that sometimes national and international authorities must collaborate to bring peace and justice. But this is in our nation.

Halfway around the world lies the nation of Iraq. Most of us have never been there, and may never set foot on that soil. But the news is permeated with stories about the war waging there. Some are calling it a civil war, which I will not dispute. The two sects fighting, the Sunnis and the Shiites, are more than just religious entities, but entire ideologies and ways of life. Radicals from either side are continually engaged in a war that has gone on for centuries for various reasons. Members of either side are killing civilians in the process that have nothing to do with their own personal struggles, but are killed merely because of their opposing religious standpoints. This is very tragic.

Four years ago the United States sent its first batch of troops to Iraq to try to bring peace. They toppled a dictator and established democracy. I am not going to say that everything went perfectly and there have been no mistakes. But I do believe that going overseas to help a country in need was the right thing to do.

War costs lives, and this certainly is an ugly war. But I believe the American people have lost sight of what we are fighting for in Iraq. Freedom. It may not be our own freedom, but those soldiers are fighting for the freedom of a people who cannot defend themselves. They have no defense against those who would come an exterminate them based on blind hatred for an opposing viewpoint. The national police have done what they can, but because of division within even those national forces, someone had to go in and help them. The system needed to be rebuilt so that it could work for the people again.

I believe that the American people have lost sight of this. When I hear the news reports and read the papers, I see a nation that is saying, “Let them solve their own problems. Let them kill each other if they have to. We don’t want their peace to cost us any more American lives.” America, have you forgotten the Civil War? Have you forgotten that it was fought for the freedom of those, slaves, who had no rights of their own and no defense against their oppressors. Thousands died to free the slaves of this nation. And no one thought twice that it was the right thing to do. Those soldiers had nothing to gain except the satisfaction of knowing they were bringing liberty to the oppressed. And they had everything to lose, namely their lives. But they fought all the same because it was the right thing to do.

Now will we run from another people who are oppressed and desperately in need of an advocate? Will we leave them to die? Will we leave an entire nation to self-destruct for our own selfishness and unwillingness to sacrifice self for a stranger? If America would rather run and preserve self than fight for freedom, then it is truly the most selfish and the most cowardly nation on this earth.

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