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The human cost is too high in Iraq

I understand that freedom isn’t free, but must the expense be human lives?

Brian, a member of the Army infantry, is a husband, a son, a brother and a friend of mine. His situation, one that he shares with thousands of other men, is that he is currently overseas, somewhere in the Middle East. He is unable to spend his first year of marriage with his wife, Katie. They were barely able to spend the first week as newlyweds together. Currently, they are barely able to even communicate.

I consider myself a liberal, but not of the bleeding-heart variety. But I have to wonder how much this country is willing to risk when it comes to trading the lives of its hard-working citizens for those of another country.

Legislation has recently been proposed in the U.S. Congress to set a time limit on troops being stationed in the Middle East. According to the Associated Press, “the Senate signed off on a bill providing $122 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also orders Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of passage while setting a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008.”

Americans themselves are still in a twitch regarding what to think. According to a Gallup Poll taken March 23-25, 69 percent of Americans disapproved of how President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq (28 percent approve, 3 percent are unsure). Moreover, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & The Press Survey, Americans are still divided down the middle when it comes to bringing the troops home with 43 percent wishing to keep them there until the situation has stabilized and 52 percent demanding to bring them home as soon as possible. Five percent were unsure.

While the Middle East’s lack of democracy is a world concern, it is not the United States’ responsibility to address this problem. By acting as a hegemonic force, the United States has only managed to hurt itself in the long run. Those who inhabit Iraq must fix the deficiencies of their democracy. It is only they who will completely receive the benefits and consequences of their actions.

The spending of billions of American dollars for this war in the Middle East is a prevalent concern for many Americans and has influenced their opinion on whether the troops should come home. Withdrawing for an economic incentive is a sound reason, but it is ethically and morally correct to pull the troops out for the value of their lives. Money is not moral, but preserving human life is. Most soldiers are loving people who feel pain just like anyone else. It must be the value and quality of their lives acting as the incentive to withdraw – not the saving of money.

It is perfectly rational and humane to gradually move American soldiers out of the Middle East. It must be remembered that they are more than just men and women; they are husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. However, setting a specific date creates harm because it emboldens those who may want to hurt the American soldiers.As much as it pains me to say this, I do believe there should be a specific, reasonable timetable set – but it should be a government secret. I don’t want to put American sons and daughters overseas in danger because of what the American public knows. I wish that the U.S. military could give Katie a call on the phone and let her know exactly when her husband Brian is finally coming home. However, Brian’s safety needs to be assured, and that requires keeping Katie in the dark about the date of his arrival.

Regardless of when the timetable comes to an end, it needs to end soon. Every life on Earth is equally important, but we must remain protective of the lives of America’s extended family: The soldiers in the Middle East. An analogous choice is one between your child’s life and someone else’s: Whose would you choose?

I would choose my child’s.

Amy Mariani is a freshman majoring in mass communications.