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(Host) Commentator Madeliene Kunin shares her thoughts on the current situation in Iraq.

(Kunin) April has been the cruelest month. So far, over 90 men and women in the U.S. armed services and more than 700 Iraqis have died. We have seen not only the startling numbers, but also some of their faces on the evening news and in the papers.

They are so young, so pitifully young. Eighteen, nineteen, in their twenties. The looks in their eyes convey pride, hope, and the belief that they are invicible. Their deaths, we are told, are the price of war.

When the old generals and the politicians made their decisions to send these almost children to war, did they see their faces, and the faces of their wives, husbands, mothers, fathers and children? No, I suspect they did not.

They consulted their maps, their charts, their daily briefings. And, of course, their personal convictions based, we now know, on faulty intelligence. That is how this pre-emptive war of choice was launched.

Now that no immediate threat to the United States has been found in the form of weapons of mass destruction, the President tells us our purpose is to liberate Iraq.

How liberated is a dead Iraqi, many of whom were civilians or were caught in the line of fire? What happened in the month of April is more than the majority of the American public acceded to when they approved going to war.

And the death toll is more than Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld anticipated when he announced that 20,000 troops have to extend their stay by three months.

And then what happens? The handover of sovereignty to Iraq on June 30 – no matter what – to whom? Agreed, now is not the time to abandon this country. But there are some lessons to be learned.

One, that getting rid of Sadam did not get rid of terrorism. The connections between Iraq and 9/11 have never been proven. By occupying this country we have generated more anti-American hatred and spawned a new generation of terrorists.

Two, the US policy of going it alone without our major allies has not worked, and ignored the aftermath of war.

But the biggest lesson is one that we seem to have to learn again and again – that war is hell. Young soldiers and innocent civilians die. War is never tidy and predictable.

What April has shown is that war means death. We must fear it, distrust it, and resort to war only when everything else has failed.

This is Madeleine May Kunin.

Madeleine May Kunin is a former governor of Vermont.

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