Death? Dismemberment? It’s Worth a Try

Golf. Cooking classes. The new season of 24. Online dating.

All of these things are worth a try, because if you fail or if you decide that you really aren’t interested, you haven’t lost much except for a few hours of your life.

When President Bush speaks to the nation on Wednesday evening, he is expected to announce his plan to send another 20,000 American troops to Iraq. Colorado’s Republican Senator, Wayne Allard, thinks the plan is also “worth a try,” as the Rocky Mountain News reports:

The president is getting ready to face a war-weary, national television audience on Wednesday night, when he’s expected to unveil plans to add 20,000 troops in Iraq as part of a larger shift in war strategy. Critics already are expressing anger, saying voters in last year’s election demanded a decrease, not an increase, in the U.S. military’s involvement.

But after a White House meeting on Monday, Allard said Bush’s plan was better than the alternative. “I think it’s worth a shot because the cost of failure is too great as far as the security of this country is concerned,” Allard said.

Allard said Bush’s plan stresses a commitment from Iraq’s fledgling government to provide more Iraqi troops and cover more of the costs.

“I think a common feeling among senators – and I think most Americans agree with this – is that if we lose this conflict, it will do nothing more than encourage terrorism, and it will increase our risk in the future of being victims of future attacks like what happened on 9/11,” Allard said in an interview. “We need to get out of this conflict in a way where terrorists can’t brag about a victory. And this plan, because of the cost of failure, is worth a try.”

I personally don’t think that sending in additional troops is the answer to what has become a complete mess in Iraq, but that’s not why I have a problem with Allard’s statement. What I don’t understand is how you could just callously say that sending 20,000 Americans to Iraq is “worth a try,” as though there’s no harm in making the effort. Sending American soldiers into a battleground may or may not be a sound policy decision, but it is absolutely not “worth a try.”

This isn’t a game of Stratego. We’re not setting up the board for Risk. When you send 20,000 troops to Iraq, you aren’t dropping a crate of plastic army men. This is real life – when a Battleship gets sunk, it really sinks, and people really die.

Allard’s statement is why Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York) wants to reinstitute the military draft in this country. Rangel thinks that politicians would be less inclined to send troops off to war if they faced the prospect of their sons, daughters, nieces and nephews going along when it happened. I don’t agree with instituting the draft, but I think Rangel is exactly right when he says that many of our political leaders have lost sight of the fact that real, live Americans are going to get injured and are going to die based upon their decisions on Iraq. For thousands of American soldiers, this isn’t a policy discussion; it’s a life discussion. We’re talking about people’s lives when we talk about increasing our troop strength in Iraq. We’re talking about husbands and fathers and mothers and daughters. You can’t look at “20,000 troops” and see just a number. 

I don’t necessarily think that Allard intended to sound so callous in his interview with the Rocky Mountain News, but he obviously doesn’t think about Iraq in terms of the individual costs for thousands of Americans when he says that a troop increase is “worth a try.” You can’t just roll the dice, shrug your shoulders and say, Hey, let’s see if this works, because what if it doesn’t work?

What if we send 20,000 more troops to Iraq and it doesn’t make a lick of difference, but 500 of those troops never come back? Was it “worth a try” then? A year from now, will we tell a grieving mother that her son’s death was not in vain

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Jason Bane

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