We are all equally responsible

Published 12:11 pm Friday, June 22, 2007

By Staff
I'm not sure why it took the death of Indiana's Ryan Balmer, an American soldier, to spur me on this subject.
Maybe it's because he's from our area. His family lives in South Bend.
Maybe it's because he was killed so close to the end of his tour of duty and his family had already begun their travel to reunite with him in the United States.
It's just so terribly sad and such a tragic waste.
Whatever the reason, I've felt responsible, which has caused me to reflect on how, as Americans, we are all responsible for putting our soldiers in harms way.
Don't we owe it to them to make certain when we ask them to fight for us, that the cause is just and all other possible resolutions to conflict have been exhausted?
This subject is terribly controversial, I realize. Many people have strong feelings on both sides.
One thing I know for sure is questioning our elected representatives is our responsibility as Americans and doing so in no way detracts from any support we have for our soldiers.
The two aren't mutually exclusive. We can support our troops fully while questioning our politicians who made decisions on our behalf about sending them to fight. In fact, I think that's our duty as Americans.
Personally, I've never understood exactly why Iraq – other than our country's history with Saddam Hussein and his regime, particularly the Bush family's history with Hussein. I've listened to representatives of the Bush administration and never quite followed the link to potential terror strikes in the U.S.
Like many others, I believed our president and his representatives when they told us about weapons of mass destruction and trusted our legislators to make the right decision about the war.
I haven't wanted to think like a conspiracy theorist and believe that corporate business opportunity is really behind our war with Iraq, but our vice president's ties with Halliburton and our president's ties with the oil industry and his father's ties with Saudi royalty have caused me to wonder.
However, since Ryan Balmer's death, I've felt a personal responsiblity as an American citizen.
We are personally responsible, you know. You just as much as me. Each of us as American citizens bears responsibility. We can't put all the blame on our politicians. After all, we put our politicians in place.
Our soldiers have never been able to pick and choose their conflicts. They aren't asked whether they agree before being asked to serve. Our soldiers have never been able to choose where they would go to fight and risk their lives on behalf of our country.
That makes their selfless service even more heroic.
It's time to bring them home. We need them home now. Why would we spill another drop of American blood – the blood of one of our children -over a cause that even Republicans now agree is lost?
I can hear you thinking right now, "It's not that easy. The situation is more complicated than that."
No, it isn't. Bring them home.
As citizens responsible for sending our men and women into battle, let's insist that our elected representatives set a deadline for troop withdrawal and get to work on a plan to bring them home quickly.
That should be our nation's priority.