Friday, December 23, 2011

Can Iraq survive the Americans?

“By definition, you cannot impose democracy; you cannot force people to make a free choice.” -- Edward Peck

On November 14th, months after combat operations officially ended and two weeks before he was scheduled to ship out, 23-year-old Army Spec. David Emanuel Hickman rolled over an improvised explosive device while traveling through Baghdad in a convoy of military vehicles and became the last U.S. service member to die on active duty in Iraq.

The distinction places him in the company of U.S. Marines Charles McMahon and Darwin Lee Judge—who were killed during a rocket attack on Tân Sơn Nhứt Airport during the American evacuation of Saigon—and U.S. Army Sergeant Anthony J. Marchione—a photographer’s assistant who was fatally wounded while taking aerial pictures of Tokyo three days after Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II. Not a single one of these “last casualties” was over the age of 23.

The chilling sadness that attends their deaths is hard to shake. It’s not that they are any more tragic than casualties that occur in the beginning, or the middle, of a conflict; there is no monopoly on tragedy. Yet more than the others, I think, their deaths underscore the capricious nature of war and the utter senselessness of the violence levied upon young people by the whims of their elders. Read this story in its entirety at the Philly Post...