Friday, June 02, 2006

The will to carry on

In the WSJ Online today, this editorial got me thinking-
Haditha

(yes, there really IS more to read, go on, click the link below)

Here's a couple of key graphs-

Opinion polls put support for the war below 40%. Still, it has become obligatory now as a nod across the political spectrum to the corrosive Vietnam Syndrome, to reassure that one's opposition is only to the war, not to the men fighting it.

Really? How does that work?

Arnold Fisher said the troops were forgotten, but they are very much on the minds of the news cycle just now. This Memorial Day week the news is preoccupied with stories of the Marine squad that allegedly killed civilians at Haditha, a town in Iraq. The narrative of this story has pretty much set in already: It's another My Lai, we all know they did it, the brass covered it up, and prison sentences for homicide are merely a formality.


No matter the result of the investigation, these Marines have already been tried an convicted by the American Media and the Anti-War Left. To say that they sound gleeful about it may be an overstatement, but there is an undercurrent of smug self-righteousness I've seen in some of the blogs I've read. An attitude of "see, we TOLD you that our military (whom we absolutely support, don't question my patriotism) was actively targeting and murdering civilian in cold blood!"

Stories of apparently malfeasant U.S. troop behavior are arriving daily now. A military truck whose brakes failed from overheating crashed and killed Afghan civilians. Press reports are now fly-specking whether the troops shot over or at the rock-throwing mob of more than 300 that surrounded them. Every one of these troops surely knows the story of Mogadishu. Been there, never again. But there will be investigations of their behavior.

Investigations, absolutely. Should the driver of the truck be turned over to Afghan authorities to be tried for murder? I don't think so.

Thankfully, our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are ALLOWED to arm themselves, so there won't BE another Mogadishu. With that does come the responsibility to use their weapons appropriately. An investigation will determine if that's what's happened.

Not that it matters to some here at home.

The Vietnam Syndrome, a loss of confidence in the efficacy of American military engagement, was mainly a failure of U.S. elites. But it's different this time. This presidency has been steadfast in war. No matter. In a piece this week on the White House's efforts to rally the nation to the idea of defeating terrorism abroad to thwart another attack on the U.S., the AP's Nedra Pickler wrote: "But that hasn't kept the violence and unrest out of the headlines every day." This time the despondency looks to be penetrating the general population. And the issue isn't just body counts; it's more than that.

The missions in Iraq and Afghanistan grew from the moral outrage of September 11. U.S. troops, the best this country has yet produced, went overseas to defend us against repeating that day. Now it isn't just that the war on terror has proven hard; the men and women fighting for us, the magnificent 99%, are being soiled in a repetitive, public way that is unbearable.

The greatest danger at this moment is that the American public will decide it wants to pull back because it has concluded that when the U.S. goes in, it always gets hung out to dry.


I fight the 'war weariness' too. But I can't allow myself to fall into that despondency. I WILL stand up for the 99+% of our troops who are doing an excellent job, and I WILL keep countering calls to bring our troops home now, and I WILL support my husband and all the men and women who are fighting the good fight on my behalf.

Two major military reports will come out soon on the Haditha incident, and no one will gainsay justice if that is required. But the atmosphere around this event is going to get uncontrollably manic, and that will feed the dark, inward-turning sentiments already poisoning the country's mood over issues like the immigration debate.

Good for Democrats? Don't count on it. After this, the public appetite for a Democratic president's "humanitarian" military intervention in a Darfur or East Timor will be close to zero.


To my anti-war friends, reread that last bit and keep in mind that when you want OUR troops to be 'Peacekeepers' in another Somalia or Bosnia of Haiti that what YOU are doing today will make that next to impossible.

We are doing what's right, even when it's hard, even when it's not appreciated. Same as we've always done, and hopefully will always be able to do.

And yes, I'm very weary of having to fight the media fight day in and out. But I'm not nearly as weary as my husband is in being a soldier, and so I WILL carry on.


Tags-

2 Comments:

At June 03, 2006 1:58 AM, Blogger Alicia said...

Wow. That was gorgeous; I think I could go through again and again, seeing you demolish some of those arguments. Here's my favorite line:

>An attitude of "see, we TOLD you that our military (whom we absolutely support, don't question my patriotism) was actively targeting and murdering civilian in cold blood!"

In that one sentence, you captured exactly the attitude you're fighting against. In that light too, it sounds so stupid that it's hard to imagine anyone believing it. I've read pieces before that argue that you can't support the troops and condemn what they're doing (and I agree), but you weren't even going that far; you were just arguing that you can't be a U.S. patriot while still believing rumor and heresay that tells you what you want to hear while avoiding the truth.

Actually, all of these issues still seem too big for me. Give me a philosophical debate about the way World War I changed British society and I'm in my element, but here and now, this is going on; it's our society, and it's real. I appreciate the way you've challenged us all to think about our beliefs.

Regarding stupid rumors, besides blogging about them and getting the truth out, are there any other steps U.S. citizens can take from home? You know, to combat that 'weariness' attitude, that cynicism about what our troops are doing that'll believe any dumb story and avoid the fact that--well, aren't we there until the Iraqi government doesn't need us anymore (which day is coming but looks more distant now in the light of some of those stories)?

 
At June 03, 2006 8:59 AM, Blogger Kyrie said...

Regarding stupid rumors, besides blogging about them and getting the truth out, are there any other steps U.S. citizens can take from home? You know, to combat that 'weariness' attitude, that cynicism about what our troops are doing that'll believe any dumb story and avoid the fact that--well, aren't we there until the Iraqi government doesn't need us anymore (which day is coming but looks more distant now in the light of some of those stories)?


The biggest thing anyone can do is to not let the slander go unanswered. You don't have to have all the answers yourself to be able to say, "I don't think it's right to condemn these men before the investigation is finished", or "we DON'T have all the facts yet, so it's not my right to judge".

I don't see how these incidents are setbacks to getting our troops home. It hasn't afected the formation of their government, or the training of their troops.

 

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