BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Abu Musab al-Zarqawi lived for 52 minutes after a U.S. warplane bombed his hideout northeast of Baghdad, and he died of extensive internal injuries consistent with those caused by a bomb blast, the U.S. military said Monday. “As far as the al-Qaida network, we are cautiously optimistic that we have been very successful thus far in the ongoing operations in last five days. We know this is not going to end the insurgency. it will take the people of Iraq to make that decision with their Iraqi security forces,” [Maj. Gen. William] Caldwell said.

My brother fought in the first Gulf War. My sister and my new brother-in-law alternate serving over there now. So I don’t take soldiers lives lightly. They have an important job to do, they do it well, and no one wants to see their efforts and sacrifices wasted in acts of futility. After this news we have to ask ourselves, has this been worth it? We are a nation used to pay off moments and right now, after so many of our funerals (and in the end, that’s what matters to us), we need a bigger pay off.

Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend to be the most politically informed guy. That’s why you’ll rarely read me blog on these topics. So as Joe Ignorant Citizen, who spends more time watching television than reading the paper or listening to NPR, just don’t lie to me. Tell me you want to finish what Desert Storm started. Tell me that we needed someone convenient to hit after 9/11. Heck, tell me that we don’t want to pay $5 per gallon in gas. I may be the worst republican ever, but at least I get that.

I am big on minding our own business, but the reality is that we have interests to defend. Political. Economic. Moral. (Yes, I think there are times we should have acted yet remained strangely quiet or suddenly remembered the phone number of the U.N.) The problem is that it hasn’t been made clear which interests this war is fighting to defend. We had the opportunity to build international good will after 9/11, having gained the sympathy of the nations. We’ve squandered that, leaving only resentment of us for our flexing, being in people’s business, and our arrogance. Even the general sentiment of our own people are wondering what we are doing and when we going to be done.

We need a clear enemy, a clear target, and a clear exit strategy. With our short attention spans, and little to no grasp of the intricacies of international politics, we don’t have the stomach for protracted engagement. After the first Gulf War, we have little stomach for (our) body bags piling up if we don’t understand why. If we don’t understand the nature of our enemy (we still don’t understand why we even have enemies).

Some wars have to be fought. Some tyrants have to be removed, especially when they decide to cross borders. Some acts are so heinous, genocide to the systematic raping of people, that they demand we sit up and take action. There are some wars we aren’t fighting that we should be. With great power comes great responsibility. We’re supposed to set the example. We can’t bully other nations to be like us, especially if their very culture and mindset won’t allow them to be. If we think of political systems as journeys, maybe some nations aren’t in a place for a representative democracy. And who says that they should be. We don’t have to “cowboy up” and go it alone. The geo-political situation is such that more cooperative efforts would be in our best interest.

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