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Another Christmas Day

It is another Christmas Day with my son in Iraq again. I got an email from him last night, so I know he is still alive. He got his gift and he liked it, but it is another year that I didnít get to watch his reaction as he opened his gift. Another year we spent apart. Another year he is in danger. How many more holidays will he spend in Iraq? We donít know yet. Bush canít make up his mind. He got the report from the Iraq Study Group, but he keeping looking for other answers. I suppose if you look long enough you will find someone who will tell you what you want to hear. That is the problem when you ask for advice and know what answer you want to hear. Often when we ask for advice, when what we really want is permission. Bush would like to have his choice to go to war in Iraq validated, to have permission to stay the course. He would like the voters to have been wrong when they called for a change in the last election. He would like to surge more troops into Iraq, but the generals are saying without a clear military objective, a surge in soldiers is only a short term solution, and provides more targets for the enemy. The military can not sustain troop deployments at this rate for long. Soldiers face continual redeployment, returning again and again to Iraq. Thy burn out, they donít reenlist; they quietly resign from a war that isnít going well. This talent loss from our military will take a long time to recover from.

Bush spends his holiday with his family. Our soldiers spend their Christmas away from their families, in a war zone; more dying each day while they wait for Bush to decide a new way forward. As of December 24, 2006, the military had identified the death of 2,969 soldiers. It seems very likely that more than 3,000 soldiers will die before Bush decides what the way forward is. Condoleezza Rice tells us it is worth the price, 2,969 soldierís lives are not too high a price to pay. Our soldiers commit to serve, to risk their lives for their country. But does our country have the right to call them to serve in this war, if in one more year all we will have achieved is more dead soldiers? Bush must decide, he is the Commander in Chief. It is his responsibility. There must be a clear military objective. There must be an achievable goal, or else it is time to come home.

If our soldiers are to stay in Iraq, we will need more soldiers. The active duty military is stretched to its limits, the guard and reserve are breaking from the full time commitment that they have been called on to make year after year. There are not a lot of other options. Most Americans do not support a draft. They do not want to spend their Christmases alone, wondering if their son or daughter is safe in Iraq. They do not want to have to mail their presents to Iraq. They do not want to spend their Christmas waiting for a phone call or email. They want their family with them, home and safe. Would Bush take this long to decide what the way forward is, if his children were spending Christmas in a war zone? Would the American people let him take this long to decide if their child was spending Christmas in a war zone?

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