Logic Times

War and Dissent

Commentary by Aslan, 10/17/05, 10:46pm. Comments (7)

 

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War dissent as commonly seen in the news today is immoral.  Not illegal, for freedom of speech is and must be protected, but immoral in that it exposes our military to increased lethal risk as they attempt to defend this country.  Those who are wavering in their support for the War on Terror generally and the Iraq War in particular need to recognize the gravity of their choice, for if enough choose to join the Cindy Sheehans of the world, then Al Qaeda, in the words of Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, will achieve their primary goal:

    "The first stage: expel the Americans from Iraq." (Al-Zawahiri letter to Al-Zarqawi)

Why is the overwhelming majority of dissent immoral?  When fellow citizens are asked to sacrifice their lives as our representatives in the defense of our liberty, there is a special obligation placed upon us to support that ultimate effort and to minimize empowering the enemy.  The time for dissent is in the lead up to war as the people, through their representatives, publicly debate the threat and carefully decide to commit the lives of its military men and women to a just cause.  No other system of government safeguards military power as well as the American representative republic, and in no other form of government can there be more confidence in granting the unconditional support that the life and death contract with our soldiers demands (read Conditional Support for War, The United States at War).

 

Yet not all war dissent is theoretically unpatriotic.  There exists the possibility of a war that escapes the ultimate control of the people and evolves into a conflict that is unjust and immoral.  This, of course, was the popular description of the Vietnam War (a conclusion that informed Americans wisely reject) and was the rationale for the bulk of the anti-Vietnam War dissent.  What, then, is the role of citizens in a free society in response to the unethical, illegitimate or unconstitutional prosecution of a war?  To reassert the constitutional prerogative of the people to govern matters of war; in other words, to vigorously dissent.

 

So, on one hand, war dissent, as it is commonly on display today, is immoral and unpatriotic, emboldening the enemy and costing American lives.  On the other hand, war dissent could potentially be moral and patriotic, preventing abuse of American military power and opposing unethical, perhaps dictatorial, leadership.  The question of the legitimacy of dissent then becomes one of discernment about the true state of affairs in the prosecution of any given war.  

 

How do we make such this critical judgment?  Might the War on Terror (and the Iraq War) be reaching a point where dissent, normally the domain of the colorful and lunatic anti-war fringe, is required of all American citizens?

 

To answer this question, we must begin with a rational investigation of the facts, starting with our national experience with war and the defense of liberty.  Very simply, what wars has the US fought in the past, for what reasons and at what cost?  Answers to these questions will place the War on Terror in context with historically justifiable wars and help with the present critical analysis.  

 

Cost of War

The most important measure of the cost of a war is casualties, which is evidence of the people of the United States placing a cause above all else, including their own lives, such as independence, preservation of the union, or the end of global fascism.  How does the War on Terror compare historically?

 

First, in chronological order, consider the major U.S. wars with casualties:

 

Then, the casualties are compared to the population at the time of the war to generate a Casualty Percentage, which is also presented graphically (data here and here).

Comments

 

1: Larry Horacek

October 19, 2004 12:24am EST

Nice discussion about dissent.  All of your points and the manner in which you presented them are compelling.  I would like to add several ideas which, I hope, will put yet another nail into the argument that the kind of dissent we are seeing today is healthy for our country.

 

One point is the continuing claim by dissenters that we went to war with Iraq for immoral reasons.  I remember two and one-half years ago viewing on TV, prior to the invasion, several excellent discussions by religious, political, and military leaders regarding the issue of "Just War" and it was clear to all watching that the US indeed had a moral/just position for initiating war with Iraq. The US Congress agreed and supported the president's call to war.  Now, in the ensuing months after major hostilities, we have learned that the chemical weapons we feared the Iraqis had (and would use against us; and which Saddam tried to convince us that he had) were not there.   OK, they aren't there now.  However, the US did not commit to war with Iraq based on this one point of WMD.  No, there were multiple points - any one of which would have been sufficient to justify an act of war.  Even if one removes the WMD issue from the mix of reasons the US went to war, we still enjoyed a clear "Just War" position.  So the idea that dissenters in some way have a viable reason to dissent against an "unjust war" is simply untrue.  Many of the other reasons dissenters claim as proof of an immoral war are almost comical, the most ironic being that we invaded Iraq for the oil.  Let it stand that the case for the US initiating the war was just - back then as it is today.

 

As much as I would like to believe that I am an important and informed citizen, I know that grand strategy of the US and many other policy positions are highly classified and that these policies must remain classified if we hope to have any chance of implementing these strategies and policies that will help the US win the war against terrorism.  It is clear to me that the war in Iraq is a big piece of the war on terror.  The dissenters who think that fighting Al-Queda is simply to hunt for Bin Laden are so naive.  Somehow, they cannot connect the fact that the main fight against terrorism is happening right this very minute in Iraq.  Instead, they have adopted vacuous "anti-war" positions which have nothing to do with the war on terror but everything to do about trying to diminish or ridicule the president, an unrelated domestic issue.  When a citizen's hatred for a political candidate raises to a point where they are willing to endanger Americans who are fighting our enemies who would try to kill us, just to score political points, then this is not dissent - it's called treason.

 

We should all welcome honest discussion about the decisions our leaders make, especially when the decisions impact our neighbors' lives that are on the line.  But the US has become such a "Rights" oriented society, we blindly allow anyone who claims that what they are doing is their "Right," and fail to call it what it really is - and in many cases that is treason.  Dissent is the opposite of treason.  And it's easy to identify treason because it rarely contains elements of truth.  If these many "dissenters" had to defend their heartfelt positions against this standard of truthfulness, then real dissent would be honored (and Canada might have a population increase).

 

{Aslan: Spot on, Larry.  Some of the very people who we respect for their wisdom for creating the Declaration, Constitution and the Federalist Papers crafted the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 in an attempt to reconcile free speech and the need for unified national action during times of crisis.  That was over the top, but the problem is real.  This glorification of free speech, as if the simple vomitus of words from anyone anywhere is more noble than a soldier facing lonliness, fear, death and terror across an ocean is sickening.  However, our devotion to freedom shifts this from a legal issue to a moral one.

 

Your point about the debate is well taken.  Here is the transcript of Colin Powell’s presentation to the U.N. that touches on the many points beyond WMD (although this was a focus).  I have made the point (Iraq-Al Qaeda Linkage) that the Bush Doctrine is what moved us into Iraq and that is, in the end, more important than any hunt for bin Laden.}

 

2: Kruelhunter

October 19, 2004 08:16am EST

None of what I have read in this 'debate' over the relationship between dissent and freedom of speech addresses the issue of the ability of members of the military to accept or reject the criticisms offered by dissenters.  Are we to assume, as Ms Sheehan and others seem to do, that our soldiers and sailors are so immature as to be easily influenced by simplistic arguments?  Or that these poor innocents must be protected from their own romantic notions about war and heroism?

 

It seems to me that we must recognize that members of our military forces have the ethical and intellectual capacity to come to their own rational decisions regarding the defense of their national culture.  (A culture, by the way, that includes acceptance of the right of others to say what they want, even when their statements anger us to the point of violence.)

 

To agree with Ms Sheehan or to assume that dissent is somehow going to dissuade these courageous men and women from what they perceive as their duty seems to me insulting.  As I see it, Congress and the administration must hear at least as much support as dissent for this war on Islamofacism.

 

After all, our politicians do so love to pontificate on majority rule.  Except for abortion legislation, of course.  That issue they left to a group of unelected, leftist lawyers in black dressing gowns because they lacked the courage for public debate.  Oh, and Presidential nominations, especially for the federal courts!

 

{Aslan: Kruelhunter, I agree with your assessment of the maturity and commitment of our Armed Forces.  And we should be thankful there are those who do not need to be fooled into defense of this country, but who recognize the need whatever the Sheehans of the world think.

 

My main thrust of the essay was to try and deflate this slavish devotion to speech over more important issues.  No, we don’t suppress speech, but we can certainly hope for a mature speech that rises above the third grade level.

 

Well said!}

 

3: Phil Fastos

October 19, 2004 09:22am EST

Nonsense.  Why does dissent help the enemy?  You use that loosely, but that is talk.

 

{Aslan: There is no reasonable expectation by enemies of the United States that they will prevail in a military struggle.  The US is a superpower with wealth and technology that can overwhelm any opponent.  When our determination is clear, as with Afghanistan immediately post-9/11, opponents can in fact retain little hope of victory.  Might I suggest that Afghanistan possessed far more potential - from a historical, terrain, accessability and loyalty (fighting force) perspective - than Iraq to cause the US problems.  In Iraq, they knew our military might first hand (Kuwait), the terrain was more manageable, the country more accessible (no

 

Against this measure, the War on Terror (to date) represents the second lowest war cost using the most important measure available. Historically, the United States has gone to war to establish the republic, to end slavery, to stop Nazism, and to halt the spread of communism, the world’s most lethal form of human oppression.  Against this backdrop, the War on Terror engages a threat every bit as serious to our way of life as slavery, Adolph Hitler or global communism.  The goal of fascist Islam is the end of the Western way of life.  Hitler, for example, would have certainly been content with European Lebensraum (living space) and sought a careful neutrality with American power, which he respected.  Al Qaeda believes in no such half measures.  President Bush, in one of his many policy speeches on Iraq in the last 45 days, summarizes the threat once again:

    "This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus -- and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics." (President Bush, speech on the War on Terror, 10/06/05)

The War on Terror reveals then a blessedly low cost in casualties* for an objective that rivals the objectives of the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War II.  Employing this standard, dissent can hardly be justified.

 

The financial cost of a war, which for some factors into legitimate dissent, can be devastating.  In the Revolutionary War, for example, the cost was so staggering that without French loans victory would have been impossible.  Despite this cost, the cause – independence – was worthwhile. What is the bill for the War on Terror, surely one of history’s most expense military and nation-building exercises, and how does it compare to history?

 

The War Cost Index is an arbitrary, but useful, value derived from the average annual cost of a war divided by its ending GDP.  In other words, what percentage of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) went towards funding a major war?  This information is also presented graphically (data here and here):

(Please note that 1789 GDP data instead was used instead of 1783 data for the Revolutionary war.)

delicate overflights of Pakistan, convenient staging ground) and the people were less loyal to Hussein than al-Qaeda and the Taliban fighters to their govt.  This, I cover in Conditional Support for War.

 

The unity of the support behind the US defeated Afghanistan as much as our might, just as it appeared would be the case in the early days in Iraq.  Once unanimity vanished, the resistance emerged...why?  Because the model of US vulnerability to public opinion birthed with Vietnam and crystallized in Somalia is the manual for how to defeat the world's lone Superpower.  We know from bin Laden and we see it reinforced from Al-Zawahiri that the whole Iraq strategy is to defeat us with internal dissent (that they call weakness).  Read Al-Zawahiri’s letter.}

 

4: Carmen3912

October 19, 2004 11:00am EST

It has never been demonstrated that this war is Just to my satisfaction.  Consider the lies told.  Your essay assumes too much.

 

{Aslan: Do you understand that you live in a republic, a representative one?  Your participation in that social organization brings you many benefits and imposes many limits.  You, as a citizen, accept the balance of freedom and restraint.  You may not like the law against jaywalking or permitting guns to be carried, but you are restrained nonetheless.  You recognize that your representatives at all levels of government have sifted the will of their constituents and arrived at restraints on liberty for some greater good.  One of the most momentous and critical relationships you have with your republic and your fellow citizens is to allow for the protection of your country through the financing of a military and the mobilization of that military for just cause.

 

What determines that just cause?  The people - through their representatives, as with all legal and political expressions of restraint and liberty.  The whole of your concerns and observations about the war are no longer relevant precisely because those questions were asked of your representatives and mine and were answered (77-23 Senate, 296-133-3 House) to their satisfaction.  Just as you restrain yourself to respect laws with which you don’t agree, you are ethically committed to restrain yourself from harmful dissent during war duly authorized.

 

Your opinion that this fact or that fact was never answered to your satisfaction holds no special privilege or position.  I don’t like some things about the war.  But war is not traffic law or commerce regulations – it is life and death and your citizens are risking their lives executing your order defending this country.  Respect for that begins with your support.}

 

5: John Haley III

October 19, 2004 10:49pm EST

"There exists the possibility of a war that escapes the ultimate control of the people and evolves into a conflict that is unjust and immoral."

 

You describe the current situation perfectly!

 

{Aslan: LOL.  I knew when I was writing that phrase that I was asking for it.  Seriously, the point of the essay was to demonstrate rationally that against any measure – threat, terror linkage, casualties, cost, strategy, collateral damage, communication – the war does not warrant dissent.  Can you give me a tangible example of gross malfeasance on the part of the administration?}

 

6: William

October 19, 2004 10:59pm EST

Bravo! Impressive research. I am still blown away about the magnitude and loss of the Civil War..

 

I think you just have to study a little of the background of the Cindy Sheehans to get a clear picture of the dissenters and what they are all about. They don't follow facts or understand logic. You make a strong case, but it would fall on deaf ears.

 

One thing is for certain, they do not represent the vast majority of the American public. That American is patriotic and supportive, their sons and daughters sign up to serve this country and to protect its freedoms. They understand to protect America from world terror, this war is necessary. They know that the fight needs to be taken to the terrorists before they come to us.

 

They have not forgotten 9-11.

 

God bless George W !  Its because of him and his administration, there has not been another terrorist attack here at home. Not for days, months but for years! Yet you never hear about it.  We are so very fortunate that our families are safe and we want that to continue for a very long time. I think we all realize there could still be another attack some day. But its the global fight on terror that has made a difference and protected us this long.

 

So dissenters, say your piece and then go home. We see right though you. Voice your opinions if you must, but do so knowing your right of free speech is only guaranteed by the very war you protest.

 

{Aslan: Thank you!  My original premise for Logic Times was to use logic to persuade liberals.  I learned the lesson you cite – logic is like a foreign language to the Left, so now I use logic for its own sake.

 

What exacerbates the whole issue of dissent is the media, which feeds and distorts the dissent and gives hope to our enemies to persevere.  In fact, the dissenters are sort of pathetic – without the amplification of the media, the issue would be less troublesome.}

 

7: Triiiman

October 19, 2004 10:59pm EST

The fruits of leadership and maturity, are increases in rights and privileges. With those however, come an increase of responsibility. For those who are very mature, the responsibility is viewed as a mission that has been specially created for them. It is not an undo burden necessarily. One cannot receive, nor retain, a right or authority without accepting the reality of increased responsibility. There is a real difference between venting (constructive dissatisfaction), which we promote, and complaining ( misplaced, destructive energy). Venting is necessary and healthy, and when properly motivated and administered, productive.

 

Complaining seeks to assure that those on the receiving end feel as much pain, if not more than the complainer. A resolution to the problem is not the focus, nor is a resolution necessary to the complainer.

 

{Aslan: Interesting distinction.  I vent about the war every day, particularly when I feel the pain of a lost soldier.  But dissent as we see it today is truly an infliction of pain by the activist.}

 

Editor's Note: This War and Dissent essay was referenced here on Free Republic.  Please note the link to a similar excellent essay here.

 

Against this measure, the War on Terror (to date) represents the second lowest financial war cost, with only the Spanish American War representing a cheaper enterprise.  Unlike a simple invasion of Cuba and an almost bloodless seizure of the Philippines, our dollars today have overthrown two despots, established free governments for 50 million people, and rebuilt much of the infrastructure of two entire countries.  This achieved at a cost of $1,106 per person as opposed to, for example, the World War II cost of $17,272 per person (in year 2000 dollars).  The need for dissent on the basis of fiscal inefficiency and unreasonable excess is clearly unjustified as well.

 

If the costs of the War on Terror – both in casualties and dollars – compares very favorably with the history of American wars, then dissent must find its roots in other aspects of the war, such as defective military strategy, unacceptable collateral damage, or gross communication failures.

 

Military Strategy

In 2001, land-locked Afghanistan had the reputation as the slayer of giants, having defeated the British and Soviet empires, and Iraq, the military leader of the Middle Eastern world, maintained the world’s third largest standing army supported by massive amounts of conventional and chemical weapons.  Between five to seven thousand miles separate America from these countries, which possess some of the world’s most hostile environments.  The overwhelming success of the United States military in overthrowing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein with casualties commensurate with a small Civil War skirmish and without collateral damage typical of modern warfare is a stunning tribute to our Armed Forces.  The lessons of this modern blitzkrieg will be taught in military textbooks for centuries to come.  There can be no dissent on this score.

 

It is true that from the fall of Baghdad to the present day, the post-war period has presented its own difficult set of challenges – challenges that are unique in history.  To attempt compassionate reconstruction of countries in a region simmering with anti-Western suspicion while concurrently hunting down and eliminating state-less combatants who employ civilian slaughter as a tool is an undertaking of staggering complexity.  In hindsight, there have been failures and miscalculations that will haunt the families of slain soldiers and have imparted bitter lessons to honest nation-building generals.  But the successes, routinely ignored by a media determined to present only the dark side of the conflict, far exceed the failures, as professionally documented by Arthur Chrenkoff (Good News from Iraq, parts 34 and 35, Good News from Afghanistan, parts 15 and 16).  Room for improvement?  Yes. Room for dissent?  Not here.

 

Finally, the question of Iraq as a valid front in the War on Terror remains. When Plato was confronted with philosophical proofs in ancient Greece that were obvious, he would often say, "To attempt to prove such an obvious thing is wholly unnecessary."  It would seem to any reasonable person that if the de facto leader of our enemy, Al Qaeda, identifies Iraq as the number one focus of the terror network’s effort, that would be sufficient to answer this question once and for all:

    "Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas, is in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans...Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq...[then] the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity." (Al-Zawahiri letter to Al-Zarqawi)

Dissent because Iraq has nothing to do with the War on Terror (including Al Qaeda)?  I think not.

 

Collateral Damage

No military force in the history of the world takes as much care as the United States to avoid collateral damage.  To this end, we have even developed weapons and tactics that honor this heritage of respect for human rights, from smart bombs to Predator drones to rules of engagement that aggressively restrain our soldiers.  In fact, given the carnage of the despotic regimes, the United States’ intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq has saved lives, over 78,000 in Iraq alone (see Fuzzy Moral Math).  There is a basis for international respect in this regard, not for internal dissent.

 

Communication

A representative republic depends on an informed citizenry to function, which is why the Fourth Estate, as flawed as it is, plays such a critical role in America.  A secretive administration reluctant to communicate with the people would be a cause for serious concern.

 

A perception has grown up around the prosecution of the Iraq War: the Bush administration, confused and reeling from the prolonged struggle with terrorists on the ground, has reduced the flow of information to a mere trickle, denying citizens who want to support the President’s effort the basic knowledge for the job.  This perception is a myth.

 

Here are the policy speeches and other major communications from the Bush Administration on the War on Terror and the Iraq War in 2005 alone, with links on the date for easy access:

 

Date Topic
October 16, 2005 Elections in Iraq
October 15, 2005 War on Terror, War in Iraq
October 13, 2005 War in Iraq - President Addresses Troops
October 6, 2005 War on Terror
October 5, 2005 Progress in Iraq (meeting with generals)
September 28, 2005 Progress in the War on Terror (meeting with generals)
September 22, 2005 Progress in the War on Terror
September 19, 2005 Homeland Security (Update on Afghanistan elections)
September 13, 2005 Meeting with Iraqi President Talabani
September 10, 2005 9/11 Commemoration - Progress in Iraq
September 9, 2005 9/11 Commemoration - Progress in Iraq
August 30, 2005 V-J Day Commemoration - Progress in Iraq
August 28, 2005 Iraqi Constitution
August 27, 2005 Isreali-Palestinian Agreements, Progress with Sunnis in Iraq
August 24, 2005 War on Terror (addressing military families)
August 23, 2005 Iraqi Constitution
August 22, 2005 Health Care for Military - War on Terror update
August 20, 2005 War on Terror, War in Iraq
August 18, 2005 War on Terror, War in Iraq
August 15, 2005 Iraqi Constitution
August 13, 2005 Progress in Iraq 
August 11, 2005 Progress in Iraq, War on Terror (meeting with defense)
August 3, 2005 Progress in Iraq, Afghanistan, War on Terror
July 20, 2005 Patriot Act, War on Terror
July 11, 2005 War on Terror
July 9, 2005 War on Terror
July 7, 2005 War on Terror
July 2, 2005 Progress in Iraq, War on Terror 
June 29, 2005 War on Terror, WMD Recommendations
June 28, 2005 Progress in Iraq, War on Terror (Nationally Televised Speech)
June 25, 2005 Progress in Iraq, War on Terror
June 24, 2005 Meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Jafaari
June 18, 2005 Progress in Iraq
June 10, 2005 War on Terror, Patriot Act, Intelligence
June 9, 2005 Patriot Act, War on Terror
May 31, 2005 War in Iraq
May 30, 2005 Progress in Iraq, War on Terror
May 28, 2005 War in Iraq
May 27, 2005 War on Terror
May 18, 2005 Intelligence and the War on Terror
May 7, 2005 Spreading Democracy
April 28, 2005 War in Iraq
April 25, 2005 War on Terror
April 23, 2005 Progress in Afghanistan, Iraq
April 14, 2005 Progress in Iraq, War on Terror
April 12, 2005 War on Terror
April 11, 2005 Middle Eastern Developments, War on Terror
April 8, 2005 War on Terror
April 6, 2005 Iraqi Constitution
March 31, 2005 WMD Commission Report
March 29, 2005 War in Iraq; Concept of Spreading Freedom
March 26, 2005 War in Iraq
March 19, 2005 War in Iraq
March 16, 2005 War on Terror
March 15, 2005 Middle Eastern Developments, War on Terror
March 5, 2005 Middle Eastern Developments, War on Terror
March 3, 2005 War on Terror
February 23, 2005 War on Terror (addressing military)
February 22, 2005 War on Terror, War in Iraq
February 19, 2005 War in Iraq
February 17, 2005 Intelligence and the War on Terror, Middle East Politics
February 14, 2005 Patriot Act, War on Terror
February 13, 2005 War in Iraq
February 3, 2005 War on Terror, War in Iraq
January 30, 2005 War in Iraq
January 29, 2005 War in Iraq
January 28, 2005 War on Terror, War in Iraq, Update in Afghanistan
January 26, 2005 War on Terror, War in Iraq
January 25, 2005 War in Iraq
January 20, 2005 War on Terror, War in Iraq, Update in Afghanistan
January 19, 2005 War on Terror, Honoring Military
January 18, 2005 War on Terror, Honoring Military
January 13, 2005 War on Terror
January 11, 2005 Homeland Security
January 9, 2005 Middle Eastern Developments, War on Terror

 

For those dissatisfied with 75 such communications on the subject of Iraq and the War on Terror covering everything from the need for the Patriot Act, to military benefits, to meetings with regional heads of state, to regular summaries of developments on the ground, what more can be demanded?  Personal morning briefings over coffee with the president and his National Security Advisor?  Those who do not see enough information from this administration on the current war are not looking.

 

Conclusion

If dissent against the Iraq War (a central component of the War on Terror) is not supported by a rational review of the facts (as has been demonstrated here), why is there dissent?  This question is critical because promoting public dissent in the United States is the focus of the Al-Qaeda war strategy:  

    "However, despite all of this, I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media

     

    You might ask an important question: What drives me to broach these matters while we are in the din of war and the challenges of killing and combat?

     

    My answer is, firstly: Things may develop faster than we imagine. The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam-and how they ran and left their agents-is noteworthy." (Al-Zawahiri letter to Al-Zarqawi, emphasis added.)

Why are Americans increasingly giving the same enemy who slaughtered thousands of civilians on 9/11 exactly what they want?

 

The unbalanced anti-war extreme left of the Michael Moore variety is not important; they do not possess the credibility to give Al Qaeda the Vietnam victory they seek.  But more rational Americans who are wavering in their support for the Iraq War despite its critical implications for success in the War on Terror are doing so for two reasons: they lack the fortitude of their parent’s generation and/or they have, in part or whole, accepted the media myth that the Iraq War has gone horribly wrong.  Part of this lack of fortitude is a naiveté about war; a prolonged, bloody and costly struggle in the day and age of Utopian security just doesn’t compute.  Wars, if at all necessary, should be like the Gulf War and the Afghanistan War, or better yet, the Bosnian "exercise," where technology is substituted for resolve and substantive solutions.

 

And what better example of the over-consumption of media myth is the belief by so many reasonable people that Bush has done a poor job of communicating about the Iraq War?  Nothing is further from factual reality (as demonstrated above).  Twenty-four major speeches, press conferences and position statements in the last three months alone on this topic reveal a President desperate to keep a shallow and disinterested public focused on the greatest threat of this generation. But when the gatekeepers of public information are savagely focused on undermining any and all Presidential objectives, is it any surprise that lightly informed Americans see a Vietnam between the Tigris and Euphrates?  And is it any surprise that this is what Al Qaeda is counting on?

 

The bottom line for those who are uncomfortable with the United States at War essay and what seems to be an erosion of free speech and the public dialogue is the special nature of the contract between citizen soldiers who are asked to die in defense of the "more perfect union" described in the preamble to the Constitution and those citizens whom they represent.  They cannot ethically be asked to sacrifice their lives – not their money, their home or their job, but their lives – for those who insist on retaining the lazy luxury of indecision or for those who change their minds with the ebb and flow of the conflict abroad or the political struggles at home.

 

The standard in this country for dissent that effectively opposes the soldier as much as the policy must be very, very high and the Iraq War comes no where close to that standard.

 

*This in no way diminishes the sacrifice of those men and women in the War on Terror – each death, each injury is painful beyond measure and is a monument to the bravery and nobility of the American soldier.

 

Copyright ©  2005 Dan Hallagan. All Rights Reserved.