According to U.S. Military Deaths, 3157 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq since the March, 2003 invasion. Mission accomplished, indeed. If you want to add in Iraqi deaths, then the body count is, according to Iraq Body Count, at least 57,000. Well, aren't we just a force for good in the world????
So, we have the same question we always have. How do we build peace in a time of perpetual war? All the old suggestions still work; try here and here. But surely there's more.
I've been traveling a lot lately, and the airports are busy with men and women coming from or going to Iraq. On my most recent trip, there were massive delays everywhere, and people were stuck for hours on end. I was sitting on the floor next to a strikingly handsome young man on his way home from Baghdad. He's about my son's age, so probably the inverse is true too; I'm about his mother's age. He'd been traveling for 39 hours when the next-to-last flight was canceled. He knew his mother was waiting for him at the airport, and he couldn't bear to be disappointing her. He started to cry.
He'd just reached the end of his psychological resources, that's all. It was a hard day at the airport, and people were melting down everywhere you looked. And I'm a mom. Of course I had a tissue and a phone, so he could call his mom, and the USO rep came to scoop him up pretty soon, anyway. So all is well there. But... seriously... these soldiers are YOUNG, and they've seen and done horrible things. This man now describes himself as a former patriot. How sad is that??? It would be interesting if veterans could be invited to speak at local churches or service organizations. We have a lot to learn from them.
And what about a study circle? I'm showing my biases -again- but I really do believe that education and knowledge are power. And I need to learn more about Iran, especially. I wish I didn't, but apparently I do.
And I can offer you the morning prayer that my favorite group of cause-y, proudly liberal nuns prays every morning:
you love justice and you establish peace on earth.
We bring before you the disunity of today’s world -
the absurd violence; the many wars
breaking the courage of the peoples of the world;
human greed and injustice,
which breed hatred and strife.
Send your spirit and renew the face of the earth;
teach us to be compassionate towards the whole human family;
strengthen the will of all those
who fight for justice and for peace,
and give us that peace which the world cannot give.