"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day



I know what you've been thinking. "When will she come back and talk about something political? We don't know where to go without her wisdom." Well, here it is. All of it. I was reading the New York Times today about Barack Obama's first retraction of his campaign for president. This is what he said:

“[W]e ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged, and to which we now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.”

I have a problem seeing this as something that should be retracted. The prospect of the lives of soldiers being "wasted" is what got him in trouble, and I can understand the need for sensitivity when speaking of fallen soldiers. But isn't over 3,000 people dying for an unnecessary, poorly planned war a waste of those lives? It has got to be a terrible, terrible thing to lose someone in a war, and it is probably only made more difficult by the fact that this war has only brought more chaos and more destruction.

Obama retracted saying, "What I would say—and meant to say—is that their service hasn’t been honored, because our civilian strategy has not honored their courage and bravery, and we have put them in a situation in which it is hard for them to succeed." True. All true, but it does not make the point that his original statement made. That this war should have never happened. That these young people were drawn into the service by lies and false promises. And that their lives are being wasted.

UPDATE: By the way, Time Magazine agreed with me.


Jennifer said...

Such absolutes.

JTB said...

So hard. When someone makes the ultimate sacrifice of dying for something, it's quite understandable that they, and they people who love them, want to believe that it was worth it. To call those lives wasted has got to be far worse than giving them a nice papercut and pouring lemon juice on it.

But I agree: what makes this war an American tragedy (as opposed to only an Iraqi tragedy) is that American lives are pointlessly squandered. Not only are our objectives unclear, dubious and shifting, but they're (whatever they are) not even being achieved. What could we bluntly call this, if not a waste of life?

That this hurts people who've lost loved ones in Iraq more than believing it was justified, or even glorious, seems to me to be the kind of hurt that precedes clarity and healing.

But I am no politician.