Monday, October 25, 2004

Patriotic dissent

There was a somewhat disturbing and distressing political story in the Express-News on Saturday. It was about a small uproar in the West Texas town of Mason that occurred after a grieving mother stood up at a memorial service for her son who was killed in Iraq and told the crowd that they should not vote for John Kerry or else her son’s death would be in vain.

I think it is incredibly sad that this mother would think that her son’s death might be in vain under any circumstances. As the story notes, the young soldier had told his mother shortly before his death that he was concerned that a victory for John Kerry would mean that U.S. troops would immediately be withdrawn from Iraq and he felt that they were doing good work and that the people there needed them. That is a truly noble and admirable sentiment and something that we can all take pride in to know that we have soldiers who are so committed to helping other people around the globe.

First, I think it is pretty clear that we are not going to be pulling out of Iraq anytime soon regardless of who wins the election. But secondly, the problem is that we did not go to Iraq on a humanitarian mission to help the Iraqi’s. There are dozens of countries where oppressed people would probably welcome our military coming in to overthrow a corrupt or oppressive regime and help them rebuild afterward. That is not the point of our military. We went to war because we were attacked and we were led to believe that Iraq was not only working with the people that attacked us but that they had stockpiles of WMDs that posed an immediate threat to our existence.
The fact that none of that has borne out is not a poor reflection on our soldiers. It does not demean their service or denigrate their loss. But it does bring into question the judgement of this administration which we now know had mixed intelligence but chose to emphasize only that which matched their predisposed ideological assumptions while ignoring the rest.

You do not have to continue to believe that Saddam was linked to 9-11 in order to support our troops and appreciate their service and sacrifices. However, some people obviously do believe this and they see anyone who questions those tenets of the invasion as being somehow unpatriotic and perhaps even treasonous. This is very much unfair.
I do not recall back in 1980 that supporters of Ronald Reagan were ever labeled unpatriotic because they were turning against President Carter during the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis. This argument that we can’t change horses in midstream is a poor excuse for electing a leader and sets a dangerous precedent for future presidents who would be tempted to launch a war to assure themselves a second term.

I believe a change of administration will help our situation in Iraq and will also restore accountability to a White House that has for too long been making poor decisions while shifting the blame and responsibility on to others.

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