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By Mike Hudson

April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot once wrote, and for our fighting men and women in Iraq, this April has been cruel indeed. The Sunni offensive around Baghdad and Fallujah has been joined by a Shiite rebellion to the south and the fighting has been fierce.

The result has been around six U.S. soldiers killed each and every day during the month, and nearly 10 times that number maimed. As of Sunday, April 18, 95 have died, bringing to 694 the number killed since the war began.

There have also been thousands of casualties on the Iraqi side, each and every one serving as a recruitment pitch for even more young Arabs to march off and fight the Infidel, which is us.

Thus far, the war has cost the American taxpayer more than $115 billion. Combined with the massive tax cuts doled out to the wealthiest among us by President George W. Bush and the Republican Congress, the domestic economy has been wrecked. More than three million people have been thrown out of work.

So there must be a good reason for it, right?

Like the weapons of mass destruction detailed by Secretary of State Colin Powell before the United Nations on Feb. 5 of last year. Powell told the world that Saddam Hussein possessed tons of chemical and biological weapons, and was running an active program to develop nuclear weapons. We not only knew what he had, we knew exactly where they were located. Powell even showed aerial photographs.

Did Powell know he was lying? Did he know that the phony evidence he was planting would cost the lives of so many Americans and Iraqis? He's the only one who knows. Aside from God, of course.

But what about Saddam's ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers who attacked our country and killed 3,000 people? Powell also riffed on this theme during his UN speech, and similar charges were leveled by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and even the president himself.

The charges turned out to be so much hot air. After more than a year of occupation in Iraq, our intelligence services have yet to come up with a single shred of evidence linking Iraq with al-Qaeda, the group that attacked us.

Well, aren't the Iraqi people better off since we ended the regime of Saddam Hussein? Highly debatable.

Humanitarian agencies report that well over 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the American invasion, and the country now seems on the brink of anarchy. And besides that, is making life better for the Iraqi people worth the life of a single American?

Whatever happened to Saddam, anyway? We captured him, the war got worse, and now we don't hear about him anymore.

Could it be that his ties to Rumsfeld, Cheney and the rest of the gang now controlling our country are a touch too embarrassing to bring out in the open? Where is he now? Iraq? Crawford, Texas?

But I'm getting sidetracked here. What I meant to write about is the unwinnable war our country's now involved in and how American boys and girls are getting killed and maimed every day for no reason at all. Lots of them. More than at any time since the war began.

"Mission accomplished"?

"Bring 'em on"?

The words of a fool.

Bush didn't even know what the mission was. He and his clique were convinced that, once Saddam Hussein was toppled, the Iraqi people would start behaving like Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and Alexander Hamilton. Our troops would be showered with bouquets in much the same way American soldiers were when they liberated France in 1944.

The reality has been far different. Those people hate us.

No one was more oppressed under Hussein's rule than the Shiites, and no one could be expected to be more grateful to us for his ouster.

Yet the Shiites have gone to war with a vengeance, an ill-equipped ragtag army that has proven remarkably effective in killing our people.

Predicting how this thing is going to end is a no-brainer, and we didn't have to sink this deep into the quagmire to figure it out. The president, whether he's Bush or Kerry, is going to declare victory and start bringing our troops home.

The victory we claim in Iraq will be no more real than the one declared by Richard Nixon in Vietnam back in 1975.

But at least the daily massacre of American boys and girls will stop.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com April 20 2004