The last few weeks I have noticed even less attention paid to Iraq in the newspapers and on the cable news channels. Then along came Thomas L. Friedman in this Wednesday’s column in the New York Times titled “Remember Iraq.”After mentioning how all the presidential candidates, and the Democratic Congress, no longer see Iraq as a priority, he wrote: “The air has gone out of the Iraq debate.”

Friedman went on to say that was not good. “Neglect is not benign when it comes to Iraq–because Iraq is not healthy,” he said. “Iraq is like a cancer patient who was also running a high fever from an infection (Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia). The military surge has brought down the fever, but the patient still has cancer (civil war). And we still don’t know how to treat it. Surgery? Chemotherapy? Natural healers? Euthanasia?”

Friedman closed his remarks with: “If we’re going to just forget about Iraq, let’s do it when we’re gone–not when we’re still there.”

It is becoming clearer every day that going into Iraq in 2003 with little knowledge of the area, culture and real situation was as grievous and grand a mistake America has made in 231 years of our existence.

We have had a pretty good record these years since we signed on with the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The world had never seen any country function as we did. Few thought it would work for every long. So far we have proved them wrong.

A country built on laws and not a person is what makes us different. Remember the phrase, “With justice for all”? Through the years we have had problems with that one. Everyone has not always gotten justice. People of color still seem to be drawing the short end of the stick. People with wealth seem to get away with anything. People who barely make a living are finding it more and more difficult to make ends meet.

The Old Testament prophet Amos gave a cry for justice that was mostly ignored. Others of the prophets called the leaders to account, and usually were locked up or killed–much like today’s whistle-blowers.

We must not forget the good parts of our history and not let our leaders in the Justice Department, Congress or the White House do as they please, with little regard for the Constitution.

The war we began in Iraq must not be brushed aside now that it is so difficult to finish. Iraq is not a fad that can be tossed aside, when we are bored with it. Those of our country who have died there deserve more. The millions of suffering citizens of Iraq (and Afghanistan) must not be forgotten, even as our leaders appear to want it to go away.

Something very basic needs changing in America. We like the phrase “the only superpower.” But look what it has cost us. Health care has been ignored as we produced more munitions (we are number one in exporting war-making pieces).

The presence of our military bases around the world makes friends into enemies. There are over 700 bases where our military is not needed. Fifty-seven years with troops in Korea is shameful. The same could be said for Germany, Africa and other parts of Asia. Add to that the use of mercenaries.

All this paid for (now on credit) by American taxpayers. The new embassy in Baghdad cost over half-a-billion dollars and has not opened due incompetence and lack of oversight. Appears we are set to stay!

I pray daily for our troops and the Iraqis and Afghanis and for the president of the United States. I pray for him to put into action, not just words, his “compassionate conservatism” form of faith. I pray for him to begin to be honest with us and clean up this train wreck he has brought on the peoples of the world. Don’t forget Iraq with some new public relations twist to invade Iran.

Britt Towery is a former pastor and missionary who writes for the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.

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