"This is a struggle of good versus evil," Major Dexter Brewer said in his update on the War on Iraq, on Sept. 13 at the Rotary Lunch.
Brewer presented his overview of why the country is still at war, what’s been happening, and what he thinks needs to start happening as the fight continues overseas.
He believes most Americans have no real grasp on what the war really is, pointing out that the country’s sacrifices don’t provide perspective.
"Americans just don’t understand the gravity of the War on Terror. We’re not a nation at war – only the military’s at war," he said.
"Everybody’s just as interested in Hollywood and Disney Land – there’s no sacrifice."
The federal budget also does not reflect that the country is a nation at war. Brewer said that what was spent in 2006 on Medicare and Medicaid totaled more than what the country spent on the entire Department of Defense budget last year.
Brewer said Iraq is important, first and foremost, because of its location. For those who might need the geography lesson, Iraq is surrounded by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Kuwait. Brewer explained Turkey and, especially, Kuwait have been supporters of the U.S. presence in Iraq, with Kuwait investing billions of dollars into American efforts.
Moving into the history lesson, Brewer explained the Iraqi population is made up of Khurds, Shiites, and Sunnis. Differences between these groups and previous domination under Sunni rule have made it impossible for cohesion, Brewer explained.
"To understand what’s going on in Iraq, you have to realize that for a long time, (Khurds and Shiites) lived under a minority of (Sunnis) dominating them, taking 90 percent of the wealth, and terrorizing these two groups. So it’s real hard to get these folks to work together," he said.
Brewer explained the Sunnis are fighting to regain the power they once had, and imported Al-Qaeda, or Islamic fundamental radical fighters, are attempting to convince others to join them. Shiite militias are also becoming an emerging group, assisted by Iranians, Brewer said.
"The big question that we all talk about: Why are we in Iraq? I’m kind of surprised we’re still debating this; at this point, it’s almost irrelevant. We have to decide what we’re going to do from this point forward. We’re there, and we’re committed. We have our young men and women committed, and we’ve paid a price so far in lives," he said.
Another big question Brewer knows is on the minds of Americans: When are we going to be out of Iraq; when are we going to come to a resolution?
"Tommy Franks (a retired U.S. Army General) last night on television had the courage to say 10, 15, maybe 20 years. See, nobody wants to hear the cold hard truth. We’ve become a fast-food, instant gratification society: ‘If I can’t cook it in a microwave I don’t want it.’ Believe me, the enemy understands that weakness. Our only protection is to go after them," Brewer said.
But radical Islamists cannot be negotiated with.
"Strength is what they respect," he said. "One of our problems in our current war is that we’ve been too soft."
Iraq will use this war to define victory or defeat, and America is currently winning – a fact, Brewer says, that is commonly overlooked.
"If we run away now and desert the people that we’ve made alliances with in Iraq, and leave them to die in a bloodbath, no one will trust us. The Kuwaitis will wonder why they put so much stock in us," he said.
Brewer, who is retired from the Army and serves as a DOD consultant, feels the war is not about politics.
"There are Americans who would rather see us defeated than give the President any credit. And that’s a sad thing."