What are the results of President Bush’s surge of more American troops into Iraq, beginning Feb. 1, 2007?
Here’s a snapshot of a few of the news reports from Monday and Tuesday:
- 9 U.S. soldiers were killed and 20 were wounded in a suicide bombing at a military base in a province north of Baghdad.
- 1 Army veteran with three tours of duty in Iraq was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade.
- 1 Marine died in Al Anbar Province.
- 6 Iraqis were killed by insurgents in Iraqi army uniforms in a community north of Baghdad.
- 15 people were found shot to death in Baghdad.
- 5 people were found shot to death in Mosul.
- 1 U.S. soldier died after a roadside bomb in a town northeast of Baghdad.
- 3 people were killed at a restaurant in Hilla, south of Baghdad.
- 3 Australian soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Nasiriya.
- 2 car bombs exploded near the Iranian embassy in Baghdad.
- 10 people were killed and 20 were wounded in a mostly Christian village in northern Iraq.
- 7 people were killed near the highly protected Green Zone in Baghdad by a suicide bomber. 14 were wounded.
- 50 people were reported killed on Sunday, including 23 non-Muslims forced off a bus and gunned down.
- 1 British soldier was killed in Basra.
- 25 people were killed in Ramadi and 44 wounded by 3 suicide car bombs.
What makes these snap-shots so tragic, and so easily ignorable, is that they are stacked on top of similar statistics day after day after day.
Since the surge began, the death count of American forces has gone from 80 in February to 81 in March to 86 in April with 7 days left in the month.
The civil war is unrelenting. The deaths of non-combatant civilians stay at a bloody gallop. Physicians and other professions continue to flee Iraq with some 18,000 Iraqi doctors having already left the country.
At day 84 of the surge, despite Bush’s muted claim for “some progress,” how long is long enough?
That question is not an idealistic one, a philosophical inquiry or an esoteric academic matter. It is a moral question rooted in the tradition of Christian realism.
The Christian realism of just war rules says that for a war to be morally right that the war must have a reasonable hope of success.
The Iraq war has no reasonable hope of success, regardless of the shifting definition of success offered by the Bush White House and the pro-war Christians. Even the Christian crusaders of a bygone era knew when to disengage from their holy wars baptized by the church and driven by the state.
Moral realism eludes the Bush administration.
Congressional Democrats have decided to send the president an emergency war spending bill that requires the withdrawal of American troops by the fall if progress is not made. The bill sets markers before the Iraqi government to measure its progress, such as disarming militias, reconciling Islamic factions and determining the distribution of oil revenue.
While Bush has promised to veto the bill and the Congressional Democrats lack the votes to override his veto, the bill deserves the support of Christian realists.
It’s time for us to set aside false hope for progress, a good outcome, for a realistic course of action.
Robert Parham is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.