There is a very thoughtful piece written in the WaPo today by Paul Schroeder whose son, Lnc Cpl Edward “Augie” Schroeder II was one of 14 Marines killed in Haditha last August.

I am outraged at what I see as the cause of his death. For nearly three years, the Bush administration has pursued a policy that makes our troops sitting ducks. While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that our policy is to “clear, hold and build” Iraqi towns, there aren’t enough troops to do that.

As recent news reports indicate, Bush no longers has any plans to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure but I found this interesting because before I began to recognize this war for what it really was I was appalled at the predicament our troops had been placed under by virtue of the ‘lighter, faster, deadlier’ Pentagon doctrine.

Two painful questions remain for all of us. Are the lives of Americans being killed in Iraq wasted? Are they dying in vain? President Bush says those who criticize staying the course are not honoring the dead. That is twisted logic: honor the fallen by killing another 2,000 troops in a broken policy?

I choose to honor our fallen hero by remembering who he was in life, not how he died. A picture of a smiling Augie in Iraq, sunglasses turned upside down, shows his essence — a joyous kid who could use any prop to make others feel the same way.

Though it hurts, I believe that his death — and that of the other Americans who have died in Iraq — was a waste. They were wasted in a belief that democracy would grow simply by removing a dictator — a careless misunderstanding of what democracy requires. They were wasted by not sending enough troops to do the job needed in the resulting occupation — a careless disregard for professional military counsel.

But their deaths will not be in vain if Americans stop hiding behind flag-draped hero masks and stop whispering their opposition to this war. Until then, the lives of other sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers may be wasted as well.

This is very painful to acknowledge, and I have to live with it. So does President Bush.

We need to bring our troops home.