Happy Independence Day!
The phrase “knee-high by the Fourth of July” might have a different meaning this year. For some farmers throughout the area, continued rainfall has probably led to knee-high puddles in their fields instead of knee-high corn. Hopefully the precipitation stays away for Friday at least – it’ll be quite difficult to shoot off fireworks if we’re getting inundated by yet another rain storm.
It’s certainly hard to believe we’re already set to celebrate Independence Day. It seems like just last week we were bidding farewell to local graduates and welcoming the summer season. The sweltering summer heat has stayed at bay for the most part so far, but some warmer weather wouldn’t hurt. We need to dry out from all this water somehow!
The Fourth of July packs an added punch this year – patriotic partiers will be given a three-day weekend to celebrate the red, white and blue. Hampton and the surrounding area have plenty of things to do in honor of Independence Day. Be it fireworks at Beeds Lake, the Hampton Municipal Band’s season finale or just a day with friends and family in the back yard, there’s many opportunites for Fourth of July festivities this weekend.
Have fun and be safe, but most importantly – Happy birthday, America!
Chaos creates Iraqi conundrum
Just two years after we left Iraq, American boots are back on the ground in the ill-begotten Middle Eastern tinderbox. A string of battle victories by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the terrorist group fighting Iraqi National Army, led President Barack Obama to send around 300 troops to the country last week. Obama has pledged the limited number of soldiers will fulfill none-combat advisory roles, but the fact that U.S. forces have returned speaks volumes.
The situation appears winless. It seems Iraq's forces were woefully unprepared to take control of their country when our armed forces pulled out in 2011, and ISIS's bloody takeover of the country has proven that. The terrorist group is ruthless and spares no prisoners – numerous reports have surfaced over the past weeks that detail the mass murder of captive Iraqi soldiers and rapes of many other victims. ISIS has taken over numerous key cities, and its bloody march has only somewhat slowed recently. Simply put, the situation is dire.
America's role in thwarting ISIS's momentum has been debated relentlessly over the past month, but the situation is a lose-lose: intervene with more U.S. troops and risk more American lives; or don't intervene, and the situation will continue to spiral into yet another Middle Eastern humanitarian crisis. ISIS has the potential to turn Iraq into a terrorist mecca if they continue ravaging the country at its current pace. The potential implications for domestic safety and worldwide security are obvious.
Even so, it's unlikely American citizens will support another war in the Middle East. We've lost thousands of soldiers trying to stabilize Iraq in the past, and it's improbable another visit would accomplish that mission. Our troops sacrificed much during two separate tours there during the last two decades and to send them again would be reckless. Iraq, like other nations in that region, is free-falling into chaos. Many top-level U.S. officials have stood firm by claiming the problem is Iraq’s to fix and Iraq's alone, but that assertion seems laughable. Fixing problems in the Middle East has proven all but impossible throughout the years no matter who’s involved.
The recent deployment of U.S. military personnel indicates the American government’s willingess to invest in the Iraqi conflict to some extent, even if its marginal. Officials may claim the small amount of advisory staff are just that, but it leaves our foot in the door nonetheless. Be it through weapons, money, troops or other means, America’s role in the conflict will most likely grow as the situation continues to deteriorate. No matter what route we choose, it seems we’re stuck between a rock and hard place with no easy way out.