DISPATCHES: An unnecessary war, an unnecessary death

DISPATCHES By Hank Kalet: Local hero dies to settle President Bush’s personal vendetta.

By: Hank Kalet
   This was not going to be a political column.
   I thought there would be plenty of time for that later, after we’ve had time to digest the way what happens on the international scene can hit home in a flash.
   This was to be a column of mourning and thanks, a column in which we remember one of our own and say thanks for his efforts and for the efforts of all his comrades in arms, the men and women of our armed forces.

Read Hank Kalet’s daily musings

on his Web log:

Channel Surfing

   Army 1st Lt. Seth Dvorin, 1998 graduate of South Brunswick High School, son of Sue Niederer of Hopewell Township and Richard M. Dvorin of East Brunswick, husband of Kelly Harris Dvorin of Keene, N.H., died in Iraq on Feb. 3, one of more than 500 American soldiers to have died since March 19, when the president authorized what he called a "decapitation attack" against the Iraqi leadership.
   Lt. Dvorin played football and baseball at the high school, loved skiing and snowboarding, loved his Mustang.
   "I’ll tell you the kind of son he was to me," Ms. Niederer told one of our reporters. "He was the kind to tell you he loved you, then cry after he said it."
   He was laid to rest Tuesday, after memorial service at the East Brunswick Jewish Center attended by about 300 people.
   Lt. Dvorin served in Iraq for a little more than five months as part of the 10th Mountain Division, 3rd Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery. His death brings the war home for us, makes this far-off international issue far too local for my taste. Each of the men and women fighting in Iraq, in Afghanistan, each of the soldiers stationed in the DMZ in Korea, stationed at bases around the globe has a hometown and friends and family and a community that cares, that worries.
   And each of them deserves our gratitude. I have always considered myself lucky not to have served and grateful to those who have, especially those who have been wounded or killed in action, men and women who, as the cliché goes, have made the ultimate sacrifice.
   My quarrel about this war and about others in the past have never been with the soldiers serving but with the statesmen and leaders of both political parties who always seem too willing to send people like Seth Dvorin into battle for whatever level of political expediency exists at the time.
   This wasn’t going to be a political column, but Lt. Dvorin is dead because of politics, because the president of the United States sold this war with a wink and a lie, told us it would be a cakewalk, that the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms.
   Am I being insensitive to Lt. Dvorin’s memory?
   Ask his mother, who told one of our reporters, "My son died for absolutely nothing." Ms. Niederer places the blame for Lt. Dvorin’s death at President Bush’s feet. "Seth died for President Bush’s personal vendetta. Bush put us where we should never have been. We’re not even in a declared war."
   Ask his father, who sent President Bush a letter shortly after he was informed of his son’s death asking the president why his son "and every other soldier that was killed, maimed and wounded have to suffer settling your vendetta?"
   His father calls this nine-month fiasco in Iraq a "meaningless war" and asks the question, "Where are all the weapons of mass destruction, where are the stock piles of chemical and biological weapons?"
   This was not going to be a political column, but I could not in good conscience ignore the political calculations that have resulted in another military funeral, another set of parents, siblings and grandparents forced to grieve.
   I remember when a friend’s brother died in the terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon. I remember wondering what kind of political calculus could exist that would put him in the middle of such a situation, what kind of political arrogance would allow us to trade his life for what were absurdly vague strategic concerns.
   "War used to be an honorable thing," Lt. Dvorin’s stepgrandmother, Florence Sapir, told us. "This one is as far from that as you can get. Seth died in vain. So did the more than 500 other soldiers who died over there. They died for nothing."
Hank Kalet is managing editor of the South Brunswick Post and the Cranbury Press. He can be reached via e-mail by clicking here.