AMERICAN CITIZEN SOPHISTRY
There is nothing patriotic about hating your country, or pretending that you can love your country but despise your government. There is nothing heroic about turning your back on America, or ignoring your own responsibilities.
-William Jefferson Clinton
"I Don't Support Our Troops"
Late last month the deployed-area edition of the military newspaper Stars & Stripes reprinted that sentiment in a snarky hit-piece by LA Times columnist Joel Stein, just the sort of infantile, incoherent, and ill-conceived opinion writing needed to swipe the mantle of "Most Anti-American Paper of Record" away from the NY Times. Mr. Stein, a man whose massive intellect makes Jessica Simpson look like Stephen Hawking, writes:
"I don’t support our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car... I understand the guilt. We know we're sending recruits to do our dirty work, and we want to seem grateful... But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying... I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea... [so] please, no parades."
Is it any wonder newspaper readership is at an all-time low?
Earlier, he plays the well-worn liberal "I'm all for Afghanistan now because it turned out to be easy" card:
"I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq."
Alright, stop right there. Am I the only one who is sick and tired of hearing that the War in Iraq has "nothing to do with 9/11 -- it was all about Afghanistan."? Refresh my memory: How many Afghans were piloting those planes again?
We are at war with Islamic radicals, potentially hundreds of thousands strong and spanning the entirety of the Middle East. Iraq was and still is one of those very cesspools of terror. "But there were no terrorists in Iraq until we got there!" Let's examine that.
This either means:
Ignore for a moment the arrogance of an "insurgency" that completely ignores the electoral wishes of 70% of its fellow citizens. "It's their country!" Whose country is it again?
Forget for a moment the fact that it is a "popular resistance" led by former regime elements with no interest in sharing power with their "lessers" (i.e., all non-Sunnis).
The truth of the matter is that anyone capable of setting off bombs that they know from the start will maim and kill many more Iraqi men, women, and children than "foreign invaders," is capable of doing that anywhere. All they would require is the proper motivation and a plane ticket.
Osama bin Laden was bound and determined to make war with America -- to awaken the sleeping giant he had been taunting for a decade. His goal was to hit us so hard that we would have no choice but to finally engage him on his turf. He has told us so again and again. And he would have done anything or thrown in with anyone to bring his evil plans to fruition, even a relative secularist like Saddam. The horrors of 9/11 are our penance for not having taken either of them seriously for over a decade.
Postulating that Iraq has no bearing on the larger war is as silly as writing off the Normandy invasion as a distraction from the Japanese war in the Pacific. "But Saddam didn't hit us on 9/11!" Fine, granted. And Hitler didn't attack us at Pearl Harbor. It may seem impossible that self-styled Aryan and Japanese "Master Races" could have collaborated with each other at the time, but it did happen.
Accordingly, fighting a war on state-sponsored terrorism without confronting Saddam Hussein would be as hollow a threat as any ever concocted by the UN diplo-doormats at Turtle Bay. We knew Iraq sponsored terrorism, just as we know this about Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. They all need to be dealt with at some point, whether by force or at the very least, the threat of force (aka diplomacy). Without teeth behind them, however, such threats become meaningless.
Saddam's pre-war actions and twelve years of stalemate proved he could not ultimately be negotiated with, and thus sealed his own fate. Perhaps now those other actors in the region will strain to hear us when we speak softly, for they have seen the size of the stick we are carrying.
As for Mr. Stein, I'd just like to beat him with it. The only reason no one dares spit on returning veterans anymore, Joel, is because the fine line between deserving an ass-whupping and receiving an ass-whupping has since blurred.
The Really Ugly American
Have we found the new Jane Fonda?
Who else but Comrade Sheehan would have the sheer, unmitigated gall to incredulously lament her "lost" First Amendment freedoms from the op-ed page of a major newspaper. (Yes, them again). Apparently, she returned from salsa dancing with el Commandante Hugo Chavez in Venezuela just in time to lecture us on the horrors of living in a "police state." And she didn't mean Venezuela.
Yet still she is puzzled why she was prevented from making a spectacle of herself at the State of the Union Address. I'm actually disappointed she's decided not to run for Congress. After all, it may be the only group of people who's average collective IQ would actually increase as a result of her joining.
Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You...
How did we end up with this "Gimme" Generation of endless whiners, panhandling for special treatment and entitlement handouts on the backs of other hardworking Americans? This entire generation of miscreants and malcontents has stood JFK's most famous line completely on its head.
Also apparently drawn from this group are the few but vocal veterans who return from war to badmouth their own country and its leadership, claiming they were "lied to."
HEAR THIS NOW: If you are thinking of volunteering for military service, prepare for the possibility of losing life or limb in a faraway land for reasons you may or may not fully comprehend. You don't get to choose your war, and you don't get to choose your fight. You swore an oath to serve your country's interests as determined by its democratically elected representatives. If you cannot handle this fact, you are about to commit to the absolute wrong line of work for you.
Societies Die by Suicide, Not Murder
Is there anything more dangerous to our continued way of life than the Western trend toward cultural self-hatred? The Islamists in our midst are capitalizing on this with the same fervor and aptitude as the old Soviet KGB apparatus once did. Still, if it takes a stage-managed Muslim outcry against a series of mildly offensive cartoon drawings to illustrate to the Euroskeptics the very nature of the threat we all face, then so be it.
"Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself," wrote Jean-Francois Revel in Democracy Against Itself.
Well, at least there's one Frenchy out there who gets it.
Do the Math
In the past six months I have witnessed firsthand in Iraq what economists would call the "opportunity costs" of freedom. I believe, as Thomas Jefferson did, that freedom is endowed to us by our Creator -- no matter what name He goes by. But it was left up to us to unearth, perserve, and protect these "inalienable rights" from the depravities of human nature, the seductive qualities of which none of us are immune. Better men than I line the shores of Normandy and dot the hills of Arlington, an eternal testament to their steadfast beliefs that there are indeed some outcomes in this world that are a fate worse than death.
I believe "give peace a chance" really means "lower the blinds and maybe the bad men will go away." True, war has not solved everything. But to say it has not solved anything is no less pernicious a lie. Southern slavery, Italian fascism, German Nazism, Soviet totalitarianism, Japanese militarism... and now Islamic fundamentalism? Perhaps we should give war its chance.
If not us, who? If not now, when? The costs of inaction are always inflationary. The price of human freedom will always be higher after we've dithered and dallied, wrung our hands, and buried our heads.
Many say we cannot sustain this fight. That our losses are too great, the will of the enemy too strong. I don't know about that. What I do know is that 3,000 civilians were slaughtered on September 11, 2001. 2,500 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have made the ultimate sacrifice in the four years since. And in that very same time frame, well over one million additional Americans have volunteered for military service.
Go ahead, do the math.
COPYRIGHT 2006 BUCK SARGENT