Op-Ed Submission by Roger Sharpe: The War in Iraq
Friday, August 11, 2006
Last weekend, while attending a community cookout at Rendezvous Mountain in Wilkes County, I met an American soldier who had been severely wounded in Iraq. This courageous young veteran, whose life was forever changed by the consequences of war, spoke to the more than one-hundred of his neighbors present and urged them to work for a more just society at home and abroad. The previous day, at a picnic in Sparta, a grandmother told me that her grandson, who is serving in the armed forces, kept her better informed about the chaos in Iraq than the politicians who are her elected representatives. Today on the campaign trail in Forsyth County, I spoke with a waitress whose son is currently serving in the military. Her son, who is sacrificing his own safety to serve our country, was billed $500 for his own body armor. These families in our district and countless more across our country can clearly see that the costs of this war in Iraq are much greater than those who hold power in Washington would continue to have us believe.
Despite this war’s daily cost in human lives and despite the fact that our national debt is skyrocketing to pay for it, our incumbent Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) told the Winston-Salem Journal that everything is "going well" in Iraq. This statement shows that Mrs. Foxx is not only out of touch with her constituents, she is out of touch with the reality of war. We have lost 2,500 American soldiers to combat, thousands have been maimed, and the unpaid bill to American taxpayers is half a trillion dollars and counting. Three and a half years after Baghdad fell, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis we were sent to liberate marched in that city last week, chanting "Death to America." Sectarian violence is as worse as it has ever been, according to recent testimony before the Senate by our top commander in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid. No freestanding democratic government is in sight. America’s good will among nations abroad is depleted. How can Foxx and her friends in the Bush administration continue to say that everything is "on track" and that we should "stay the course"?
Whatever else we do as a nation in getting our troops safely out of this quagmire, the planning must involve a coalition of other nations whose interests in the stability of the Middle East equals that of our own. Why should Iraqis take charge of their own destiny, or why should other countries become seriously involved in stabilizing solutions, as long as we continue to foot the bill with our own soldiers’ lives and national debt? Mrs. Foxx continues to rubber stamp the failed policies of the Bush administration at the expense of her constituents. Working families and unborn generations of North Carolinians will be repaying the costs of this war for years to come. Meanwhile, for the first time in modern history, the wealthiest Americans got a tax-break during a time of war.
In the Revolutionary War, Rendezvous Mountain in Wilkes County was a rallying point for Patriots who fought the Battle at Kings Mountain. May the people of Northwestern North Carolina once again rally for change and clean house at the ballot box on November 7th.