Mansfield News Journal, OH
May 5 2004

What will it take for us to leave Iraq?

By Ron Simon
News Journal

Not long ago, USA TODAY did a piece on all the young men and women
who have been killed while serving in Iraq.

All their pictures fit on one page. Until that point, it hadn't hit
home how few there really have been.

Not that each one doesn't hurt like hell when that one is your
friend, your brother, your son or daughter.

And you can be sure that many, many more are coming home maimed in
one way or another.

But in all honesty, we lost that many in just one ambush in the Ia
Drang Valley.

Think back to that first awful hour on Omaha Beach. Or the bloody
black sands of Iwo Jima.

Or, God help humanity, one hot afternoon at Antietam Creek in
Maryland when the "landscape turned red."

When I read about our difficulties in Iraq and how determined to the
death some Iraqis are to blow us out of there, I know how the British
must have felt when they occupied New York City in the 1770s.

Somebody in London decided if the Redcoats were able to occupy North
America's major cities, that silly old revolution would die on the
vine.

So first they held Boston and found themselves trapped there. The
march to Concord was a disaster and Bunker Hill was even worse. Then,
when they found themselves staring at the mouths of cannons on
Dorchester Heights, it was time to pull out.

Next, they tried New York City and after a few brisk fights, it was
theirs. And it's all they got. If a Redcoat thought he could go
raiding in Westchester County, Long Island or New Jersey, he was
liable to wind up dead. Trapped again.

Philadelphia wasn't quite so deadly, but it was just another dead
end, as were Charleston and Savannah. Those damned Yankees owned the
countryside and managed to get France and Holland involved.

Time to leave.

Like the Greeks in Persia, the Romans in Germany and the Germans in
Russia, being belligerent in somebody else's country can bear painful
results.

A lot of Vietnam veterans are going back there on veterans holidays.
They say the reception is great. Folks are friendly. It sure wasn't
like that 35 years ago. I can't remember ever feeling safe anywhere
when I was there.

We did have two successful occupations in Japan and Germany after
World War II and I guess it is because both countries were so
completely defeated that we could afford to be friendly and
forgiving.

We felt the same way about the South Koreans. But when you think
about it, all three countries were not too unhappy to have our
military around, considering how many enemies they had. We made a
great security blanket and spent money like water. It's no surprise
all three countries have done so well. We primed their pumps and let
them grow behind our shield.

That's not the case in Iraq. The Kurds like us plenty and seem to be
doing well. I hope we don't desert them again, but they haven't much
more historic luck than the Jews or the Armenians.

No matter how many of us get killed or injured, I don't sense any
mood to cut and run from Iraq yet. I just wonder what it's going to
take to get out of this one with some honor.

I hope I never see film of our last helicopters lifting off from a
building in Baghdad with people dangling from the landing skids. Once
in a lifetime is enough.