As a 21-year-old political science major in a decidedly liberal state, I’ll be the first to admit that I am biased in my opinions on the war in Iraq. I also have high school friends in Iraq right now, fighting a war I am wholeheartedly against. But emotions aside, a question has been bothering me for some time: How many children of Congress members are serving in Iraq?
For the unknowing few out there who think the war is over, I have news for you: We are decades away from that happening. We entered a war for which no plans were made as to how we would rebuild Iraq once Saddam was ousted from power. Now we are stuck rebuilding a country from literally the ground up.
Overthrowing the Iraqi regime was the easiest part of the war. As Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times noted on “The Charlie Rose Show,” we defeated the Flintstones. They had no means to finance a war against the powerful United States. This is a country with nothing outside of Baghdad. Electricity, clean water and sanitary conditions are a dream to most Iraqis. There is still much work to be done.
With so much work still ahead of us, we are left to clean up the mess we made. So that means our young men and women must continue to fight and serve in Iraq. But I wonder if that includes every able man and woman.
Almost 40 years ago, very few children of the members of Congress served in the Vietnam War. But today, congressmen and congresswomen, as well as the members of the Cabinet and White House staff, have their private lives scrutinized every day, and it would be expected that their children would have to fight.
But would Congress be so willing to send troops into Iraq if their own children had to serve?
How would they feel if they had to watch their child fly off to a foreign land, not knowing whether they would see them ever again?
I wonder if they would think twice about sending troops then.
Currently only two members of Congress have children in the age range to fight in the war, which begs the question: Is it easier to send 18- and 19-year-olds to war when you know your child isn’t one of them?
What is more troubling is that attacks on American troops have doubled over the last few weeks from 17 to 35. If operations are going as smoothly as the Bush administration says, then why do visiting members of Congress have to be housed in Kuwait and transported by specially equipped military aircraft? Why have most of the humanitarian aid teams left Iraq, planning to return only when security is maintained?
Things are not running as smoothly as the administration says, and they owe it to the American public to disclose the full truth, not a twisted spin. It seems I would have had a solid future in politics if my mom hadn’t taught me that a half-truth is the same as a lie. The administration never learned this concept.
Only recently has the military released the exact death count in Iraq. Before, they hid behind the cover of combat-related deaths. Were we supposed to believe that death by fire is more tragic than a helicopter accident? That is a horrendous act of dishonor to the loved ones of those who perished while not in combat.
But the war has brought some good things. Schools and soccer fields are being built in areas that have never had them before. But before they showcase their success to the world, I hope they first honor the men and women who are giving their lives so that Iraqis have their freedom, because there is still a lot of work to be done.
Matt Faust is the Daily Nexus sports co-editor.