On this day a 143 years ago, our American civil war came to it's end.
We know that more than 620,000 Americans died in our Civil War with disease and the chaos of conflict killing twice as many as those lost to actual violence. 50,000 survivors returned home as amputees. We know when it started and when it ended. The war was over 4 years after it had begun by 1865.
By contrast, the Sunni-Shiite conflict began some 1,400 years ago and we cannot pretend it does not continue today.
We knew this before we invaded and were openly discussing the repercussions years ago.
The wider consequences of the Iraq conflict are unfolding, but not in the way that the United States and its allies had expected. While stability, security and consolidated democracy continue to elude the Iraqis, an alarming outcome looming on the horizon is the sharpening of the historical division between the two main sects of Islam in the region: Sunnis and Shiites.
The traditional power equation in the Gulf is rapidly shifting in favor of Shiite Islam, which has a majority of followers in only three Middle Eastern countries - Iraq, Bahrain and Iran - and whose leadership is claimed by Iran. This has deeply concerned the regional Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, which champions the cause of Sunni Islam that is dominant in most Muslim countries.
If the present trend continues, the Iraq conflict could cause wider sectarian hostilities across the Muslim world, with a devastating impact on the region and beyond.
Historically, Iraq has had an Arab national identity but a majority Shiite population, ruled by a succession of minority Sunni-dominated elites. The U.S.-led invasion, and Washington's aim of installing a protégé government without affecting Iraq's Arab identity, changed all this.
We in the West can't even begin to estimate the body count, when it might end or even how it really began so many centuries ago.
But we can and should recognize it for what it is - A Civil War. My opponent, Robin Hayes, somewhat humbled by his narrowly clinging to office in 2006, callously promised after the election that "most of our forces will be out by 2008" and yet has refused to recognize the reality of the Civil War in which we find ourselves and from which we must extract ourselves.
Our troops have accomplished their mission and now the Iraqi's must take responsibility for their own war that rages within and work together to end this centuries old conflict. We can't do it for them.
Please help Robin Hayes honor his promise that our troops will be coming home by helping my campaign and sending me to Congress to work to extract the US from the Iraqi civil war.