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Editorial: Remember war in Iraq

About 30 people gathered outside the Alamo in San Antonio Wednesday to demonstrate against the Iraq War. Much as generations have said, “Remember the Alamo,” those protesting on the fifth anniversary of this military confrontation’s outset should say “Remember the war in Iraq.” Time and other pressing issues have made the war fade into the background of the public’s consciousness ó an ongoing war with no end or victory in sight.
The United States must not settle for that. The 160,000 U.S. troops serving in Iraq need our nation’s attention, support and activism. War cannot be business as usual.
In Minnesota, a pair of boots for each of the state’s soldiers killed in Iraq stood in the state Capital rotunda Wednesday ó 59 pairs. If someone erected the same memorial for the nation, nearly 4,000 pairs of boots would be needed.
The number is small compared to the 400,000 U.S. forces who died during World War II ó only 1 percent of that horrific loss. The monthlong Battle of the Bulge alone took 20,000 U.S. lives. But the United States didn’t get into that war only to learn most of the intelligence that prompted its entry was faulty. The enemy was identifiable and defeatable, and victory was decisive.
Maybe that’s why Americans have turned their attention elsewhere as the war in Iraq slogs on. Saddam fell, but the attacks and resistance kept coming. Internal frictions and the uncertainty of the Iraqi government have muddied the picture. Unable to understand the situation clearly or see a successful end in sight, we focus elsewhere.
And there’s plenty that needs our attention. President Bush’s bungling of the war was paramount at the beginning of the presidential campaign, and candidates competed to outline strategies for withdrawal. But in recent months the economic downturn has become top priority. Consumers struggle to pay rising gasoline prices and deal with the higher costs that have rippled through the marketplace. Many deal with the loss of homes through foreclosure and the difficulty of getting new financing because of the resulting credit crunch. Facing these realities every day, it’s no wonder the public is less attentive and even less outraged by the war. It almost seems like a far-off fiction.
But for the troops and their families, the war is frighteningly close and real. American outrage may have faded, but the risks troops face remain vivid. Five years is too long. Four thousand deaths are too many. The need to resolve the situation and get troops out of harm’s way is as urgent as ever. Remember the war in Iraq, and the men and women who fight it.

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