Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What Part of "Military" Did you Not Understand?
I'm getting pretty sick and tired of the liberal penchant these days of portraying American servicemen and women who have given their lives in Iraq as innocent lambs sent to the abbatoir by a conniving, lying, ignorant President.

In the first place, the people who join the military do so voluntarily. There are not press gangs roaming American streets looking for people to shanghai. The military makes it perfectly clear to anyone willing to sign on the dotted line that military service very often means "being shot at and potentially maimed or killed". It's fairly obvious to anyone with half a brain that an organization that teaches people to use firearms, bayonettes, hand grenades and thermonuclear weapons is not an etiquette school. The military has several, minimum qualifications for those seeking employment in it's ranks: you have to be above a certain age, you have to pass a test, you have to have a high-school diploma. It's assumed you can breathe without assistance, tie your own shoes without a government program and can reasonably be expected to know enough not to stick your tonuge into live electrical outlets. After all that, you still have to be able to spell your name.

People who meet these minimum requirements can reasonably be expected to realize that when they put on a uniform that the day might come when they are sent, in the quaint expression, into harm's way. So, as far as I know, no one is being duped, deceived, tricked, flim-flammed, bamboozled or lied to when it comes to the risks inherant in voluntary military service. The argument that people are ignorant of the potential danger is patently false, and is really more of an argument along the lines of "Sheesh, my kid joined for the college money, not to shoot anyone or be shot at."

Too bad. That's the chance you take when you sign up. I'm sure that the same people who grumble about losing their loved ones in defense of the country would have had no problem if the same wind of fortune presented their beloved with a winning lottery ticket.

I do not mean to be unreasonably harsh in criticizing the Cindy Sheehan's of this world. Mrs. Sheehan lost her son, and while she knows damn well why and how it happened, she's still not happy about it (naturally), and she intends that the rest of us should have to share her pain. It's the Oprah moment gone berserk. The media and the criminal elements of the left (can', Michael Moore, etc) merely see Mrs. Sheehan as a useful tool in getting their anti-war message out. Chances are that sans these organizations and the media vultures, no one would have ever heard of Cindy Sheehan. And naturally, without Mrs. Sheehan, chances are we would never, ever have heard of this absurd train of thought that a) full-grown adults are children when their mothers portray them that way and b) people who make voluntary descisions should not be held responsible, and protected from, the consequences.

As to the continuing chorus of "Bush Lied" and the littany of everything that goes wrong daily in Iraq (what goes right is not "sexy", as they say in the news business), I have this to say: when you present only one side of a story, or maybe even only half a side, you are being intellectually and factually dishonest. To pretend you are not is to be absolutely evil. Did the President lie? I don't know, and I don't have any evidence. But then again, neither do the people who accuse him of having done so. The campaign against the war is being fought with the oldest tactics in the book: "throw enough shit against the barn wall, eventually some of it has to stick" and "repeat something often enough and people actually start to believe it."

Neither of course is affected one way or another by factual evidence. To be contrary, even deliberately and ignorantly contrary, is akin to a religion for some people, I guess. A vast sum of federal money should be spent just to find out how these sorts tick so that they will be more easily identifiable to local mental health authorities.

The fact of the matter is that while things are certainly not a bed of roses in Iraq and massive mistakes have been (and continue to be) made, it's by no means certain that the war is a lost cause. I believe it can be turned around, that Iraqis will eventually be able to take responsibility for their own country, that a functioning semi-democratic (best we can hope for, I'm afraid) republic can function in Iraq, and that Iraq will eventually become a becon for hope, justice and social equality in a place that has no concept of any of those things. It will, however, require the present administration to admit mistakes and to be aggressive in correcting them. I see too much PR and not enough action right now. The detractors of the White House have put the president and his folks on the defensive somewhat and it's time he came out of the corner swinging.

The other side of the political spectrum has a vested interest in portraying the war as a lost cause --- they want power in the next round of elections. Of course, they're not so intellectually dishonest as to actually do what they say they will: end the war before America's task is completed. Democrats know just as well as Republicans that cutting and running is inherantly dangerous for the citizens of the United States. Anti-war sentiment, however it's engineered, is merely a political tool for them, not a principled stand.

Iraq can only be "fixed" when certain people, on both sides of the issue, stop engaging in petty politics and media spin and start getting serious about getting the job done.

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