A lot has happened with the war in Iraq both at home and abroad this past week. President George W. Bush and his administration have laid out a tentative plan for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Cindy Sheehan has returned to Crawford, Texas.
You may remember Mrs. Sheehan from her 28-day peace protest this summer or from my column criticizing her behavior earlier in the semester. You may not remember, however, how poorly the situation was handled by the police of Crawford, Texas. The last time Cindy and her band of merry men camped out near Bush's ranch no one seemed to care, except the locals. Roads were blocked and noise complaints were filed because of the thousands of protestors and anti-protestors who flooded the area.
This time around no-camping ordinances are in place and the protestors are being arrested. According to www.msnbc.com Sheehan's sister was even arrested last week when she refused to leave the field she was camping in. I was originally critical of Cindy's protest because I believe she is disgracing the name of her son, who served his country honorably in Iraq. Now these squatters are finally be handled properly and put in jail.
The last time I discussed the topic of protests and those who wage them I received a huge backlash of response. Those sending me hate mail claimed I was a violent monster who didn't understand how democracy worked. This time let me explain why Cindy's protest is completely erroneous.
First of all it comes at a time when the situation in Iraq is constantly improving. Newsweek reported in its Dec. 5 issue that some of the most dangerous areas of Iraq have not only been secured, but are being patrolled now by an entirely Iraqi staff. Iraqi troops are operating checkpoints and providing a less attractive target for would be suicide bombers and leaders are asking for even more control in the fight against insurgency. The country is also approaching its next official election (on Dec. 15) that will hopefully establish a permanent government acceptable to all of the Iraq's religious factions.
Newsweek also reported that success or failure in Iraq may depend heavily on public opinion here in the states and quoted Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, as saying "people need to be clear what the stakes are here." If troops were immediately withdrawn from Iraq the entire region could fall into Sunni/Shiite civil war.
Not to mention the effect that protests have on troop morale. If Casey Sheehan were still fighting in Iraq would he and his fellow soldiers be proud of his mother's activities back home? I would bet not. I would also bet that if Cindy understood why her son volunteered for military duty and what the importance of his mission was she would go home pretty quickly.
So, this time around I won't suggest any of my own solutions for removing peace protestors and I won't mock them. I will, however, suggest that Cindy Sheehan save herself a lot of time and a trip to jail by just staying home for the holidays.
Ryan Chapman is a senior marketing major. His column runs every Wednesday in the Collegian.