Video: Tragedy in Iraq

msnbc.com
updated 8/5/2005 5:58:46 PM ET 2005-08-05T21:58:46

As the war in Iraq rages on, more U.S. soldiers are returning home in body bags.  Some families are fed up. 

Hardball host Chris Matthews spoke with the parents of Lance Corporal Edward Schroeder who was among the 14 U.S. Marines killed in a recent attack.  Rosemary Palmer and Paul Schroeder offer insights on their son’s death and the on-going war.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, ‘HARDBALL’ HOST: It’s a terrible thing to do, but I want to talk to you both about the war in Iraq and the loss of your son.  Ms. Palmer, did you sense that this war was very dangerous for your son, even before yesterday? 

ROSEMARY PALMER, MOTHER OF KILLED U.S. MARINE:  Well, war is always dangerous.  And there were so many deaths that it was starting to mount to the point where I was actually thinking yesterday that if Auggie were not among the 14 killed, I was almost to the point of calling the Department of Defense and just saying, for mental health reasons, he had to come home, that I couldn’t handle it anymore.  It was just too much. 

MATTHEWS: What made you feel that the danger was growing? 

PALMER: It’s the old game of the fewer.  The 325 unit that he’s in has been having more and more casualties.  And if you have fewer guys and the same number of people, then the chances are growing that your person is going to be the one that’s hit. 

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Mr. Schroeder, why do you think we’re in this war?  What do you think is the real reason for this war in Iraq? 

PAUL SCHROEDER, FATHER OF KILLED U.S. MARINE: I really don’t know why.  I could guess, which might be unfair.  But, I would guess it has to do with oil.  It has to do with deposing a dictator that we used to love and came to hate.   That goes on repeatedly. 

MATTHEWS: What did your son say was his motivation for fighting?  Was it just patriotism to our country or a belief in the mission? 

SCHROEDER: He did not have a motivation to fight.  He had a motivation to do his duty to the Marine Corps and to be part of the Marines.  His entire life was devoted to doing what he promised he would do. 

MATTHEWS: What did he say about how the war was going? 

SCHROEDER: Well, early on, when his unit arrived there in March, he was talking about the friendly Iraqi people.  After May and June, he stopped talking about the friendly people, not that they weren’t friendly.  But he stopped talking about it. 

Two weeks ago, in the last conversation I had with him, he simply said, the closer we get to coming home, the less worth it this is. 

MATTHEWS: How did you interpret that? 

SCHROEDER: I took that to mean that his participation in Operation Matador, Operation New Market, Operation Sword, Operation Spear, and a couple others that I don’t know the names of, were failing. 

Basically, the operations were intended to go into these towns, kick out the insurgents, take their weapons, arrest whoever they could, and then they would withdraw.  They only had to go back and find more insurgents in the same places.  The fact that these 14 fellows were blown up indicates to me, logic would say, that this policy, this strategy, this tactic has failed. 

If it was successful then he would still be alive, as would all those other kids.

MATTHEWS: Rosemary, let me ask you what is your feeling about this war and the goal of trying to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people?  And do you think that was a smart thing for us to try to do? 

PALMER: It was a very naive thing for us to do. 

You don’t go to another culture and try to impose your's and expect it to work.  We’re not Iraqis.  We don’t have the same culture.  And while I understand that we’re a multicultural nation, we don’t act like it sometimes.  We act like the whole world thinks exactly the way we do. 

MATTHEWS: Do you think that the war is going to get any better now that your son — I mean, you have paid the ultimate price?  And, by the way, thank you.  I don’t know what it means to say thank you for your service, except I mean it. 

The courage of these young guys and some women over there is unbelievable.  And I guess everybody wonders about the conduct of the war, whether these lives are being wasted or these lives are being put to good purpose.  What is your feeling about that now? 

PALMER: I personally believe that, since it is not working, then we have to make a change that it is not worth the sacrifice if it is just more bodies on to the heap. 

Like President Bush said, he wanted to stay the course and honor the memory of the ones who died by continuing to fight.  If it didn’t work before, why does fighting more?  You know, you do the same thing over and over.  Expecting a different result is, I think, the explanation of insanity. 

MATTHEWS: The way you describe it, it is like pouring water into a sand hole on the beach and having it drain right through and start over again.  It seems like a repetitive process that doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. 

PALMER: Exactly. 

SCHROEDER: Well, the repetitive process has been going on for 27 months, since the active invasion phase ended, 27 months of doing the same thing over and over and over again, with no evidence that it is getting better. 

If there were evidence it was getting better — and I have yet to see it — frankly, if it was getting better, these fellows would still be alive after all of this strenuous effort.  Then it is time to make a change.  Either put the number of troops on the ground that you need to really do the job or get the heck out. 

We have a saying in the Midwest, piss or get off the pot. 

MATTHEWS: Do you have a sense, because of your son’s tremendous, permanent, total sacrifice of his life and his experience in these months fighting this war, that the middle-level officers, the majors, the captains, do they have a sense of a clear vision of what they’re getting done over there? 

SCHROEDER: I can’t speak to those fellows.  I have great respect for the Marine officers at that level and the sergeants who made these troops, great respect. 

I would tell you that they probably are frustrated, just like a lot of the ground troops, the lance corporals and the privates are.  I would say that one thing that we have to make crystal clear, which is why we agreed to talk today, is that there is a — you cannot equate.  There is a clear difference between supporting the troops on the ground and supporting the policies that put them there. 

The president likes to equate those two things.  If you don’t support the war, you don’t support the troops.  Too many American people are buying into that.  I don’t buy into that.  Rosemary doesn’t buy into that.  It is time that we say, look, we can support the troops all until the cows come home. 

SCHROEDER: We don’t support the policies that put them there. 

MATTHEWS: You two have more right to answer this question than anybody else in the country today.  After reading those headline — and to most of us, they’re just headlines.  They’re American G.I.s, Marines in this case, giving their lives for their country, 20-some this week, in that one part of the country in Iraq.

What should be the reaction of the American people who pick up their newspapers, watch television, and learn of these horrors?  What should they do as a result of seeing that news, Mr. Schroeder?

SCHROEDER: They should stand up and tell President Bush enough is enough.  You’ve had your chance.  Now let somebody else come up with a different plan.  If you can’t come up with a different plan that is going to work, in my view, that is more troops, then get out. 

MATTHEWS:  Rosemary, is that your view?  Is that how we, all of us, not in the news business, regular Americans from your part of the country, across the country, getting this horrible news, how should they react to it? 

PALMER: I think most people are just saying the latter, just get out, because it is clearly obvious that the politicians are not going to institute a draft.  With the number of deaths and the dangers being what they are, they are not going to get the recruits. 

So, therefore, if you can’t get enough guys to do the fighting, then you have to get out.  Do it or get out of the game. 

Watch 'Hardball' each night at 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. 

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,