OK, someone remind me...what exactly is it that we're supposed to be accomplishing in Iraq? And is it worth the price in young American lives? I'm beginning to wonder.
FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) - Insurgents shot down a U.S. Chinook helicopter in central Iraq on Sunday as it carried troops headed for R&R, killing 15 soldiers and wounding 21 in the deadliest single strike against American troops since the start of war.
The attack by a shoulder-fired missile was a significant new blow in an Iraq insurgency that escalated in recent days - a "tough week," in the words of the U.S. occupation chief.
Other U.S. soldiers were reported killed Sunday in ground attacks here and elsewhere in central Iraq. The only day that saw more U.S. casualties came March 23, during the first week of the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
Sunday's attacks came amid threats attributed to Saddam's party of a wave of violence against the U.S. occupation. Saturday had been planned as a "Day of Resistance" in Baghdad, though no widespread violence was reported there.
The aircraft was hit at about 9 a.m. and crashed amid cornfields near the village of Hasi, about 40 miles southwest of Baghdad and just south of Fallujah, a center of Sunni Muslim resistance to the U.S. occupation.
At the scene, villagers proudly showed off blackened pieces of wreckage to arriving reporters.
Others celebrated word of the helicopter downing, as well as a fresh attack on U.S. soldiers in Fallujah itself, where witnesses said an explosion struck one vehicle in a U.S. Army convoy at about 9 a.m. Sunday. They claimed four soldiers died, but U.S. military sources said they couldn't confirm the report.
"This was a new lesson from the resistance, a lesson to the greedy aggressors," one Fallujah resident, who wouldn't give his name, said of the helicopter downing. "They'll never be safe until they get out of our country," he said of the Americans.
I think it's nonproductive to be using words like "quagmire" and "Vietnam" to describe what is happening in Iraq. Vietnam was a much worse and significantly bloodier war. We're also not supporting a corrupt government in Iraq the way that we were in Vietnam. Those realities aside, Iraq has become the political equivalent of a Chinese finger trap- easy to get into, but significantly more difficult to extricate yourself from. Perhaps it's time for the Bush Administration to figure out just how we're going to leave Iraq. We may have a respsonsibility to "finish the job" in Iraq. However, if the natives are going to condone guerilla warfare against the army that liberated them from Saddam Hussein, perhaps it's time we let them solve their own problems.
Is the dilemma we find ourselves in now worth the continued war of attrition that seems to be accomplishing little except ended the lives of young Americans? What, exactly, is the plan here? How are we to know when our work is finished? How do we leave- and more importantly, WHEN do we leave? It's time that all of us begin demanding answers to those questions.