The U.S. military is mired in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Casualties are mounting, and we as citizens feel for the families that have lost loved ones. It’s a difficult choice to keep those dear to us in harm’s way. As the situation in Iraq deteriorates into mass sectarian strife and national newscasts bicker over whether to label the conflict a “civil war,” those of us at home watching these events unfold are driven to choose between our desire to bring the troops home and to continue our involvement in the area.

The mechanistic processes of the war effort are undoubtedly out of our reach. We are subject to the choices of those in the military and within the walls of the Pentagon. Regardless, we do hold sway over this effort with the power of the ballot

We must be responsible with the power we have. Americans would be wise to note the recent history of the 20th century – ignoring the overtures of Adolf Hitler and appeasing his subsequent military strikes led to the biggest war the world has seen. In the effort to avoid conflict through appeasement, we only exacerbated it on a worldwide scale. Those events drove the development of nuclear weaponry, the Cold War, mutually assured destruction and the hodge-podge of alliances that stabilized America on a global scale — until now.

We again come to a point where such a critical decision must be made, and the stakes are just as high. Do we leave Iraq under the noble pretense of preserving American lives? In considering this, it is critical that we review the consequence of Iraq falling under the influence of Iran. Who are we – driven by a despotic, Islamic, fundamentalist who flaunts in his rhetoric his disbelief of the Holocaust – to take him by anything but his word? To do otherwise is beyond gross negligence. To do so is to betray our future generations and force them to deal with an ever-growing threat to the democracies and freedom that have been fought for in the past centuries.

We dishonor our ancestors and betray our nation’s future by leaving them subject to the historical inertia of our shortsighted, reactionary and politically driven decisions to not finish a vital job. If Iran is able to control Iraq, it will become even more difficult to pressure with economic sanctions, and our future options to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons may be limited to drastic, military means.

We as a nation are called upon, for our own survival and for the stability of the world, to set aside our prior disagreements in order to stabilize this incendiary situation in the Middle East. Our decisions are final, and our generation is not the only one that will have to deal with them.

Patrick Wycihowski is an LSA senior.

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