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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 26, 2007 / 14 Tishrei 5768

What do we owe those who have died in Iraq?

By Michael Smerconish


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Don't let my son die in vain."


Those words are often spoken to the president by kin of fallen soldiers as the commander in chief attempts to assuage their grief, according to Robert Draper's insider account of the Bush administration, "Dead Certain."


For me, the difficulty in addressing this plea from grieving family members encompasses the Iraq conundrum. It's not so much whether to trust Gen. David Petraeus, or determining a favorite among the competing military talking heads on the cable shows, or deciding whether meeting nine of 18 designated benchmarks means we met half the goals, or missed 50 percent.


No, the tough call here is what we owe the more than 3,700 men and women who, having volunteered - largely in a 9/11-inspired environment - to join the fight against those presumed to threaten America, paid with their lives. What do we owe their memory? How about those yet to die? And is there a distinction between those two groups? This is how I frame the quandary we face.


I have long suspected that a similar calculus is going on in the head of the president and that his "return on success" mentality reflects his belief that anything short of total victory dishonors the dead. To a limited extent, Draper confirms my suspicion.


"The president repeated those words to me over and over," Draper told me this week, "and indeed volunteered to me at one point, saying, `I often hear those words.' He felt almost haunted by them. And I think that they are emboldening words to him. He has interpreted them as essentially `stay the course.'


"I don't want to suggest that the president's policy-making in Iraq comes solely as a result of talking to grieving widows and families of the fallen. But I do think that those words have had an impact on him, that he doesn't want to turn back to these individuals and say, `Sorry, but your son or daughter died for a lost cause.'"


But is that necessarily the case? Will fallen soldiers have died in vain if we leave Iraq without establishing a stable democracy?


I say no with regard to those who have died to date.


My rationale is based on how we got into this mess: The United States was attacked. The words never again were heard throughout the land. The notion of preemption was adopted against a backdrop of missed intelligence and lost opportunities to kill Osama bin Laden before 9/11. Saddam Hussein appeared to represent a similar threat. (Erroneous, it turned out, but widely believed at the time.) The United States took action. The rest has not gone as any American had hoped.


But anyone who died in voluntary service to this country based on those circumstances died with honor, not in vain. In the same way Pat Tillman is no less a hero to me, even though I know he died from friendly fire.


The issue becomes more difficult. I refer to the soldiers who Petraeus told Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., we have continued to lose since the surge began (as we spend $9 billion per month). We know far more today than when we invaded. We realize that the war was initiated based on a false premise: the presence of WMD. Further, our continued occupation has stirred a hornet's nest in the Arab world. No doubt the most significant line of Petraeus' testimony came when Sen. John Warner, R-Va., asked him whether the war in Iraq was making America safer, and he replied: "Sir, I don't know, actually."


Of course, if the Iraq war comes to a successful conclusion someday, no one will ask whether any soldier died in vain. But what if, after the current debate ends, we stay the course, sustain additional loss of life, and leave without victory?


Will the soldiers who died after serious questions were raised about our mission have died in vain?


I don't know that answer, but I believe that as time goes by without resolution, the odds increase that they will.


Last week, I sat in front of my television, notebook in hand, and watched the testimonies of Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, awaiting guidance. I thought, perhaps naively, I might gain new insight into what is actually happening in Iraq. After all, who better to hear from than the men spending each day overseeing the military and political efforts there?


Every member of the House and Senate had an opinioned speech to offer, not a question they legitimately needed answered. That's what makes the current debate so difficult: It's impossible to believe what anybody says. Petraeus says he sees some success in the same places critics see failure. The president sees justification for a prolonged U.S. presence in Iraq where his rivals foresee more adversity and danger.


And all this while the commotion surrounding MoveOn.org's newspaper ad blared like a car alarm throughout the proceedings.


Still, what no one will directly address is the hard question that guides the president: What do we owe those who have spilled blood for this conflict? The resolve to see it through no matter what, or the courage to end it so that others don't find themselves similarly situated?


If only somebody could tell us loud enough to be heard over all the noise.

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Previously:

08/30/07 A Navy SEAL's gut-wrenching tale of survival
07/30/07 First it was a faux pas, now it's a new word


© 2007, The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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