War in Iraq... One Grandpa's View

Hank Mattimore
Reproduced with Permission

I hold my three month old grand daughter in my arms and feel that special joy that is reserved for grandparents all over the world. She smiles at the funny faces I make at her. She may be stuck with a semi-weird grandpa but Abby is safe, secure and loved. That's the way it should be.

Thousands of miles away in a place called Iraq, I imagine some old guy holding his grandchild in his arms. He's making funny faces at his grandbaby too, trying to coax a smile from the tiny infant in his arms. It may be a little more difficult for him because the grandchild in his arms, while loved just as fiercely, is neither safe nor secure.

As we pause on the brink of war as a nation, I don't pretend to know any more that what I read in the paper and catch on the TV news. The dictator who holds power in Iraq has done ugly, evil things. He has used poison gas on his own people and, it is said, is preparing to use human shields to surround military targets in case of war. Given the opportunity, it's reasonable to assume that this man would develop and use chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction against his enemies. So, the United States, is about to go to Iraq and obliterate the evil dictator and his minions before he can do any further evil. It's the good guys against the bad guys, right?

The nagging problem for this grandpa, as I hold the bottle for little Abby, is that other grandpa and the child he holds in his arms. What will life be like for this little baby and her family? Will there be food and shelter for this family when we drop our bombs? Will there be a doctor to attend to the needs of one sick baby in the midst of hundreds of thousands of people clamoring for care? Then, I have to think, "Wait a second, Mr. President? Isn't there some other way? Didn't you know, Mr. President, that nearly half of the Iraqi population is under the age of 15?

Do we really want to unleash our fury on children?"

I imagine for a moment a murderous criminal holed up in a large house with 100 people, the vast majority of whom are innocent hostages. The police surround the compound and demand that the criminal turn himself in. The bad guys thumbs his nose at the police. Outside, the police confer on what to do. "Let's just go in there with uzis blazing," says one guy. His senior officer replies, "We can't do that. Half of the people in there are just children. How can we justify that?"

"But we can't let him just get away with it," says the first man. The senior officer pauses for a moment. "I know but we can't kill innocent people either. We will just have to figure out another way."

Is there another way in Iraq? Our President doesn't seem to think so. Maybe he's right. I think he is a moral man who wants to do the right thing. But before we go to war, I'd like to introduce Mr. Bush to a friend of mine. He's a new grandpa who lives in a country called Iraq.