The work in Iraq is difficult and it is dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying, and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country. ~ President Bush
The president uttered these words before a friendly audience at Fort Bragg, North Carolina — not in front of a crowd of wounded U.S. troops. The official number of these troops is 16,155, although unofficial estimates range up to almost 50,000. It is easy for Mr. Bush and supporters of this war, both inside and outside the government, to say that it’s worth it. But perhaps we should get another opinion. Why don’t we ask the wounded U.S. troops if they think it’s worth it?
This twenty-year-old young man was trapped for twenty minutes in a fiery ammunition truck in Iraq. He was left with disfiguring burns on his face, head, arms and legs. This is what he looks like after more than two dozen surgeries. Does he think it’s worth it? For the rest of his life kids will laugh at him and call him Frankenstein or a freak. For the rest of his life he will have to look at his face in the mirror in the morning. For the rest of his life people will silently stare at him — thinking that he reminds them of someone they saw in a horror movie. Finding a girlfriend or even a job will be a difficult thing. Does he think the war in Iraq is worth the price of his face?
This soldier lost his left hand and will probably lose his right arm. Does he think it’s worth it? For the rest of his life he will not be able to open a door or a can of coke. For the rest of his life he will not be able to go to the bathroom by himself. For the rest of his life he will not be able to turn on the radio or type an e-mail. Picking up his kids, if he ever has any, will be very difficult. Does he think the war in Iraq is worth the price of his hands?
This soldier will have to have his feet removed. Does he think it’s worth it? For the rest of his life he will not be able to walk or drive a car. For the rest of his life he will not be able to participate in any sports. For the rest of his life he will be confined to a wheelchair. Running and playing with his kids, if he ever has any, will be impossible. Does he think the war in Iraq is worth the price of his feet?
The Pentagon frowns on photographers and the press from seeing, watching, or taking photos of wounded U.S. troops arriving from Iraq via Ramstein Air Base in Germany and being transported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Medical Center. What if the American people were allowed to see thousands of pictures of wounded U.S. troops instead of just the three I have included here? What if they could see the grieving parents, spouses, children, and friends that God sees? How quickly public opinion would be turned against Bush and his war!
A month before Bush made his Fort Bragg speech in which he said the Iraq war was worth it, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll recorded that 57 percent of those polled said they did not believe it was worth going to war in Iraq, versus 41 percent who said it was. As more and more Americans conclude that the war is not worth it, both in lives and in dollars, Bush’s approval rating goes down further and further. We can only hope that these numbers continue on their upward and downward paths until the former number reaches one hundred and the latter number reaches zero. But until that day comes, how many more faceless, handless, and feetless soldiers will have to suffer?
There is a group of U.S. troops that we can’t ask about the war being worth it. They died for a lie. They will never enjoy the finer things in life like eating a good meal, walking on the beach, visiting a museum, or relaxing under a shade tree. They will no longer know the love of a parent, a spouse, or a child. They will never have any more children and will never see their grandchildren. They will never buy a house, retire from a job, or take a vacation. They’re dead Mr. Bush. Do they think the war in Iraq was worth their life?
The president now acknowledges that he is “responsible for the decision to go into Iraq.” This means that he is responsible for the scarred faces, the missing hands, the missing feet, and the coffins of dead Americans. Will there be any repercussions? Perhaps not in this life, but certainly at the Judgment.