The following is a Veterans Day open letter to every journalist, pundit, professor, politician, protestor, peace activist, and whiny veteran who opposes the U.S. mission in Iraq but won’t shut up long enough to hear the approaching rumble of freedom on the march.
Treason is commonly defined as the betrayal of one’s country by aiding and abetting the enemy. If there is one thing the Iraq War has brought to light it is the multitudes of cockroaches that have been stealthily infesting our classrooms, newsrooms, and congressional backrooms, breeding and lying in wait to spread their disease. As for their fealty to their native land, you may draw your own conclusions.
The mainstream media in particular have now abandoned their pretense of objectivity and jettisoned their subtleties. They, and all those who stand in agreement with them, have all but declared war on the American soldier and everything he stands for. In the words of General William Tecumseh Sherman, “[If] war is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, [then] I say let us give them all they want.”
To all the blowhard senators, blowdried talking heads, and bloviating peaceniks who are rebels without a clue when it comes to the war:
Let us get one thing straight right off the bat: You are not supporting the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by your undermining of their efforts in New York City and Washington D.C. All your marching, all your wailing, all your sit-ins and teach-ins and die-ins, your patchouli drum circles and rap-rhyming sloganeering -- accomplish little other than outing you as the main purveyors of the very know-nothing, idiotic drivel that you claim to oppose. Either get on board or get out of the way.
You have elevated an America-hating crank to the level of Hollywood celebrity status, even as thousands of other families of the fallen grieve in quiet dignity and eschew the media spotlight. They do not hunger for their 16th minute of fame; they would rather honor their loved ones for how they lived, not wallow in a cost-benefit analysis of why they died. You would be hard pressed to name a single supporter of the war effort other than President Bush to make the cover of Time or simultaneously the focus of every major news outlet. Cindy Sheehan for President?! President of what? Al Qaeda International?
Our Rage Against the Ma-Sheehan doesn't end with her, though. Those of us who serve are continually at a loss to comprehend the rabid animosity toward the American military presence in Iraq by those who have never set foot in Iraq, who have never worn the uniform, and who are not related to or even mildly acquainted with anyone who has. Those of you have absolutely nothing on the line in this war and absolutely zero at stake. If you simply stopped reading the paper or watching the news, you likely wouldn’t even know we’re still over here. Why do you care? Be content with your trendy iPods and your five-dollar frappachinos and your electric-hybrid Eurowagons and let us do our damn job. If you’re not part of the solution…
It may require a world map, a geography lesson, and ultimately the torching of your tattered and beer-stained college history text for this to finally stick in your brains, but Iraq is not Vietnam. we’ll say it again: Iraq is not Vietnam. Yes, we know you would like it to be, we realize that the pinnacle of most of your middle aged lives was watching Richard Nixon squirm under the hot lamps of the Watergate scandal that would hound him from office and allow Congress to finally, finally -- after 8 long years -- decisively lose the conflict in Southeast Asia. Hey, but at least they were decisive! Maybe that’s what so impressed the millions of Vietnamese and Cambodian boat people who fled in every imaginable direction -- including across the Pacific Ocean -- to attempt to escape the impending holocaust perpetuated by Jane Fonda’s new Communist BFF.
Today’s headlines read like bad satire as written by Santayana. They would be laughable if their potential consequences were not so frightening. The hollow commotion over “Plamegate” is déjà vu all over again. Once more a political scandal about nothing is being propped up in a desperate attempt to bring down another Republican president in time of war. And once more, the fate of millions of impoverished human beings -- aka political pawns for “peace” -- hang in the balance.
You can toss around the word “quagmire” until you are blue in the face (or in Senator Kennedy’s case, red in the cheekbones; perhaps he believes it Latin for “happy hour”). But the cynical act of repeating a 30-year-old cliché ad infinitum does not ipso facto make it semper veritas.
Do the Sunnis and Shia despise each other? Of course. But so do Democrats and Republicans. (And for good reason; liberals are pathologically insane). Regardless, we don’t routinely slaughter each other in the streets of Washington D.C., but reserve our ideological clashes for the pages of the Washington Post. By contrast, Iraq's burgeoning press corps is still in its infancy. They've never been able to actually print their own opinions before without fear of death by government. Saddam and his Ba'athist cronies pitted the two largest Iraqi religious blocks against each other for over three decades, encouraging rampant sectarian violence in order to consolidate their grip on power. Everyone else they shot for sport.
Our decade long “no-fly zone” maintained over northern Iraq was the only thing standing between the Iraqi Kurds and wholesale slaughter, but few believe that it could have been upheld indefinitely. A war is a large expense, to be sure, but ten years of daily sorties rivals the gross national product of Great Britain. George Washington could not have harvested constitutional democracy in the Middle East overnight, and neither can George W. Bush. But he can plant the seeds, and already we’ve begun to witness the budding fruits of his labor.
We are slowly teaching the Iraqis how to settle their differences with ballots rather than bullets and bombs, and they are learning at an exponential rate. And the ones who refuse to change their evil ways are being killed by our troops by the bushel. We are not “breeding more terrorists,” we’re preventing them from breeding, period.
The foreign jihadists who have kept the insurgency stocked with fresh meat have flocked to the Babylonian battlefield like mosquitoes to a bug zapper. These are no weekend warriors -- underemployed day laborers who moonlight as masked marauders and just happen to have expertise command detonating daisy-chained artillery rounds wired into the trunks of black BMWs and red Opels. They would not otherwise be florists or dental assistants were it not for the presence of American forces in the Middle East. These are professional terrorists -- epitomizers of the dead-end job -- who’ve put down their blueprints and schematics of the Mall of America and the Brooklyn Bridge long enough to congregate to where all the action is. They seek eternal martyrdom in their warped conception of paradise, and are the only known combatants in recent human history to actually seek death not as a mere means to an end, but as an end in itself.
The least we can do is oblige them.
These are people who actually attend terrorist training summer camps to learn their craft. We’ve all seen the taped footage broadcast on al Jazeera (which strangely, always seems to depict them relying heavily on the advanced combat skills of swinging on monkey bars and diving headlong through hoops of fire). Apparently the Airplane Hijacking Merit Badge is the toughest one to get for most al Qaeda outward bounders, although it does involve "disguising" yourself as a Muslim extremist in order to defeat U.S. airport security screeners, the majority of whom wouldn’t be caught dead racially profiling even if one Sheik Osama von Ladenheimer strolled up to the counter with a slung AK-47 and dialysis machine in tow and asked for a one-way business class ticket to LaGuardia.
To all the perfidious media outlets who overtly campaign against the war with the same fervor that they campaigned for John Kerry:
As the war slowly morphs into a police action as province after province becomes stabilized and cleared of insurgent strongholds, the hard military targets in Iraq are dwindling. This should make all of you at the New York Times nervous. Your building just might make it onto the short list. You are no longer essential to the health and vitality of a free republic. The “blogosphere” has made you obsolete. Consider yourself warned.
But enough is enough.
We're fed up with your paltry exploitation of the weak-minded few who are embittered and embattled by their experiences overseas. True, some vets are emotionally crippled by their service, but the overwhelming majority are not and go on to lead rewarding and productive lives. A rare few take advantage of the media's total ignorance of military life and play the PTSD card like an ace of spades. A generation of popular films and apocryphal news stories lends credence to this fiction that all soldiers come back from war as hurting and homicidal as John Rambo. GI Johnny Rambos return stateside to cause a ruckus and make the front page of the newspaper; GI John Smiths come home to begin new careers and start new families and fly completely under the media radar.
For all you go-for-the-jugular journalists out there, we’ve got some “breaking news” for you: there are some steaming piles of dog feces masquerading as American soldiers in the United States military. But the embarrassment of Abu Ghraib and the aberrational lapse of individual discipline are the exceptions that prove the rule. Those sorry excuses for soldiers were that way before they joined, they were that way when they served, and it should not be such of a shock to find them that way upon their return from the chaos of war.
But those individuals do not stand or speak for the majority of us. In fact, real soldiers despise them worse than long-haired hippie college students despise soap. At least the students have an excuse: they’re still young, dumb and full of cumbersome theories foisted upon them by their half-baked professors who ignored The Man and dropped the "brown acid" at Woodstock. And not to mention woefully inexperienced in anything even remotely resembling the real world to know better. Spare us your Veterans Day homilies about sacrifice and try actually making one.
But any soldier who spent years in the service and absorbed so little about personal responsibility, honor, or self reliance that he would blame society, his commander in chief, the oil and gas industry, tax cuts for the rich, that the camp PX ran out of Cool Ranch Doritos one too many times and now he has PTSD and is out of the Army and can’t keep a job and has to live with his grandparents -- anything other than the actual terrorists who wounded or maimed him -- ranks just below Michael Jackson, George Michael and Hillary Clinton on the popularity scale among those of us who wear the uniform. In armyspeak, those “fobbits” who never leave the wire but publicly brood as if they were POWs are really POSs. Wounded warriors of any stripe who whimper and cry about their plight in the pages of Vanity Fair or on Salon.com are what we call “blue falcons.”
[Author’s note: For an explanation of “blue falcon” ask a combat soldier. If you don’t know any combat soldiers, that is your disconnect from mainstream America right there. (For those in NY or LA, this may require a dreaded stop in “flyover country.”) Most veterans who return to badmouth the war were REMFs over there anyway. (For an explanation of REMF, ask a Vietnam veteran. The modern terminology is "pogue"). If you don’t know any Vietnam vets, look around your neighborhood for that house that proudly flies Old Glory every single day of the year and is statistically more likely to be happier, more successful, and make more money than you do.]
And lest we forget, John Kerry* also returned from an unpopular war with nothing but contempt for his country and for those he served with. In fact, he even proudly attested to it in 1971 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, purporting to speak for all veterans as he outrageously accused the U.S. military of “war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.” His statements were preposterous then, and with the hindsight of history they are even more preposterous now. It would appear that young Lieutenant Kerry went off to Vietnam already preparing for his 35-year-long campaign for the White House. All he needed was to wait for the antiwar tides to roll back in -- which they conveniently did -- and he came one Midwestern state away from pulling it off.
* In case you spent the majority of 2004 in a not-so-persistent vegetative state, John Kerry is the Massachusetts senator who served in Vietnam before he ran for president on the Democratic ticket based solely on the fact that he served in Vietnam, and mentioned little else at his DNC nomination speech other than his service in -- you guessed it -- Viet f-ing Nam. (Did we mention that he served in Vietnam?)
Who does our generation have to look forward to down the pike, running for the highest office in the land three decades hence on a platform of “being for the war before he was against the war after fighting in a war he was for before being against?” Perhaps even a "blue falconette," in lieu of today's "kinder, gentler Army."
Don't even think about it, Lyddie England.
I suppose in preparation we should start raising funds, cataloging email addresses, and file for our election year FEC political advertising license soon:
STRYKER VETERANS FOR TRUTH
Better keep your checkbooks handy, fellas.