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Support the Troops, Living and Dead

Former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq urges Bush to meet with Cindy
By Edward Peck
U.S. Tour of Duty

August 15, 2005

Without question, every American supports our servicemen and women. The most meaningful support is to insure that their lives are put at risk only when the nation faces a realistic, serious and imminent threat, a basic fact that those who urge us to blindly Support the Troops appear to have forgotten. There never was such a threat from Iraq, as the administration has long since admitted, but it is becoming one now precisely because of the invasion.

President Bush, in his speech at Fort Bragg last month, justifiably praised the troops who have placed their lives at risk. In so doing, he totally ignored the fact that they are in Iraq precisely and only because he sent them there. He is the one who places lives in the armed forces at risk.

One of the great strengths of the military, and thereby of the nation, is that they will go where they are told to go, and do what they are told to do to the best of their ability. Those who have already paid the ultimate price, or who have been maimed or wounded, and those for whom the horrors are yet to come, deserve the thanks we unreservedly offer for their sacrifice.

For exactly the same reasons, Mrs. Sheehan and all the others left to grieve for their loved ones deserve a full, open accounting from our leaders of the rationale behind a flawed, poorly executed, totally unnecessary conflict. They have also paid a price, and to deny them a hearing, to pretend that they have not earned the right to talk with those who decided on a path to death and suffering, is to pretend that Support the Troops has value and meaning only for the living.


Ambassador Edward Peck, former Chief of Mission in Iraq, served two tours of wartime active duty with the paratroops.

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Thank you for your letter. You have put into words my thoughts. The arrogance of the White House is most evident, I think, when Americans look at this war. We have sent our military into a conflict that didn't exist. President Bush had the power to do that. He had the arrogance to believe he could because, hey, he's the president. He had the arrogance to move ahead on an unnecessary war without planning for a conflict we would create by our actions. And now when real questions are being asked and when consequences are being demanded he has the arrogance to believe that he has his life to live. Somehow riding a bike and taking a nap has greater importance then meeting with those left behind. What does he think is going to happen when the people of Iraq demand the same moment with him? What does he think he should do when they start demanding answers? What does he think, he can shrug it off? I don't think so.

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