A year later, Iraq war endgame unclear

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

A year after bombs fell on Baghdad, Americans remain divided on why whether we ever should have gone to war.

Even among soldiers who served and their families, there are varying opinions. Some believe the war was justified; some believe the Bush administration should have been more upfront about its motives.

But the question most of us &045;&045; regardless of our feelings on the war &045;&045; are asking is &uot;what now?&uot;

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As daily reports of attacks on troops and civilians mount, many people are wondering how and when we get out of this war.

Military and political science experts agree that the end-game strategy is difficult to map. Establishing democracy in Iraq &045;&045; which, now that Saddam Hussein is captured, is the main goal &045;&045; will be a long road if compared to other attempts in U.S. history. Most of those efforts were not even successful.

We cannot predict the coming costs of this war &045;&045; either in dollars or in human casualties.We also cannot predict the length of U.S. military involvement. Already many guard troops stayed longer than they were told they would serve, and a major troop rotation is under way.

What now? For the immediate future we can’t imagine anything but more of the same. The United States simply cannot pull its troops from Iraq until the country is stabilized, or we will ruin any headway we have made toward establishing democracy in the Middle East.

Whether that daunting task is accomplished remains unclear as we write history in the region. But we must continue to support our troops working to secure that democracy, and we must continue to pray for a swift end to the violence.