"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."

On the 1,000 American Soldiers Who Have Died in Iraq

September 9, 2004

On this day, members of United for Peace of Pierce County are joining in several of the more than one thousand vigils taking place across the nation ― some twenty-three are gathering within a 30-mile radius of Tacoma, Washington, alone ― to commemorate the passing of the mournful marker of 1,000 deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Thousands of others, many civilians, have also died.

On this day, too, an important article by Thomas E. Ricks appeared on the front page of one of the nation's great newspapers, the Washington Post, entitled "U.S. Troops' Death Rate Rising in Iraq."

The news it conveys is grim indeed.

"More U.S. troops have died since the turnover of power to an interim Iraqi government at the end of June than were killed during the U.S.-led invasion of the country in the spring of 2003. A total of 148 U.S. military personnel have been killed since the partial transfer of sovereignty on June 28, compared with 138 who died in March and April of 2003, Pentagon figures show. . . . The wide geographic dispersion of the violence reflects the strength of a resurgent opposition. . . . Before the war, predictions by even the most skeptical Bush administration critics did not include scenarios of escalating violence this long after the invasion. . . . The nature of the fighting also has changed. In July, most of the combat losses with identifiable causes were inflicted by planted explosives ―- roadside bombs and land mines. But in August, deaths by gunfire and by suicide bombings also became a major cause, indicating that there were more direct confrontations with enemy fighters. . . . Military experts said the latest round of combat is a sign that the U.S. military is engaged in what promises to be a protracted war. . . . 'Sadly, the 1,000th military death is but a bookmark on a longer and more painful road,' said retired Army Lt. Col. Carlo D'Este, a historian specializing in World War II. As in the Vietnam War, he said, 'there is no visible light at the end of the tunnel, nor has the Bush administration articulated a viable exit strategy, without which the war will continue indefinitely ―- that is, years.'"

In short, the war in Iraq has turned into a textbook case of a quagmire. Unfortunately, political leaders are not telling the American people the truth about the war. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called the rising level of violence a "backlash" that is a sign of "progress," but in fact it is likely to make meaningful elections in January impossible. The failure of these elections will signify the collapse of the third and last justification offered for the war, the transformation of Iraqi political institutions in the direction of democracy, after the first two justifications offered -― the existence of threatening weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the state sponsorship of international terrorism by the regime of Saddam Hussein -― proved groundless.

In that event, the nation will find itself with well over 100,000 troops engaged in an open-ended commitment with no goal in sight other than a demonstration of national will, or "character."

Throwing away human life to avoid embarrassment cannot be good policy.

United for Peace of Pierce County believes that there are four steps that are essential to extricating our nation from a situation for which there is now no good solution. 1. Our government should frankly acknowledge that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. 2. Pre-emptive war should be renounced as an instrument of national policy. 3. An international consensus, preferably brokered through the U.N., should establish a new policy for Iraqi reconstruction. 4. Democracy in the U.S. must be revitalized -- for the Bush administration's adventure in Iraq is a sign that our government yields to pressures from groups that do not represent the will or interests of the American people.

If these steps could be taken as a result of the war, than it could be truly said that the American soldiers who died in Iraq did not die in vain.


"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."