Or, What Kerry Said May Have Been Clumsy, But That Doesn’t Mean He Was Wrong
The Republican leadership have been loudly proclaiming Senator John Kerry attacked our troops and supports our enemies. I subscribe to over a hundred publications of various sorts, not to mention being a junkie of news sources of all times from blogs to news channels. Yet, not once have I ever run across anything that ever could be construed as anything but 100% support of the troops themselves. Try using “The Google” as Bush ignorantly calls it or any of the other internet search engines and see for yourself by bringing up the actual words and context.
The same goes for all the claims of the Republican leadership attempting to smear Senator Murtha and others who have chosen to question the strategy or tactics of the occupation of Iraq. In general, no matter who is speaking, no matter how vociferous the well deserved condemnation of those in charge at the top levels, the individual in uniform serving his or her country has received nothing but support, encouragement, prayers and deference.
The only notable exceptions are those individual soldiers who might have committed crimes such as the Abu Graib prisoner interrogation violations or the shooting of defenseless non combatants. Even then, the inclination was to give the benefit of the doubt to them until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and instead look to the civilians in charge at the top levels that fostered an atmosphere which tacitly allowed such outrages. Not even the harshest antiwar activists condemned all the military for what was undoubtedly the actions of the few. Support for the actual troops on the ground has, for all practical purposes, been universal this time around.
There have been legitimate concerns about the lowered admissions standards for recruits, reduced training and preparation and the climate of the end justifies the means. At the same time, such concerns are offered to protect the troops, not attack them as the Republican leadership tries to spin it. Better troops, better training - Reduced Risks. In fact, such criticism is usually also coupled with demands for better armor, more troops to do the job, less frequent long deployments, better pay, better care and better benefits for the enlisted men and their families. Somehow even those concerns are warped by the Republican leadership which, astonishingly, has fought implementation of all those in one way or another. The troops carrying weapons get across the board support from one and all for their difficult and dangerous job and we are proud of their accomplishments. We do not expect them to do the impossible as the occupant of the White House apparently does.
Even the very top generals, for the most part, have escaped personal criticism from those opposing the degenerating Iraq occupation. The wide spread assumption is that those generals have told Bush and Rumsfeld what was needed and the advice was ignored. Most critics of the current Administration accept that men in uniform, generals included, must obey orders, be circumspect and keep secrets even when the secrecy was imposed for the sole purpose of prevention knowledge of active malfeasance by their bosses. At worst, some opponents of the war have wished that the soldiers were more outspoken while in uniform about the obvious incompetency and failures of the Secretary of Defense and the White House. After all, unless it has been rewritten from when I served, the Code of Military Justice, not to mention honor and morality itself, specifies that soldiers are required to disobey illegal orders such as torture or deliberately killing someone in custody. If failures are not acknowledged and learned from, how can they possibly be avoided?
The Republican leadership does not care about anything apparently except its own ego its all consuming desire to stay in power no matter who is harmed. Bush trumpets that a desire to pull out of Iraq is a failure to “support the troops” or honor the lives of those already killed in what turns out to have been an unneeded invasion, at least as to the originally stated reasons for starting. Even the most IQ challenged though among the voters ought to realize that the Republican leadership is primarily just trying to confuse lack of support for the President’s policies with lack of support for those who must attempt to carry them out under deadly fire. In contrast, surely, it ought to be obvious that those who demand immediate withdrawal are requesting it to harm the troops. The opposite seems to the goal even for the most strident activists.
Even if you buy the President’s assertion that it is better to “fight them over there,” how is it a lack of support for the troops to insist upon a cost/benefit analysis of the Iraq war, especially in terms of lives of those being sent there who have to die or live with the consequences? Would it save more lives to not be there? Would it be better to have the troops here protecting than there? Would less enemies be created or united if we leave? You can disagree with the long term result predictions one way or the other, but you cannot claim that a request to pull out as soon as possible is somehow an attack on our troops. Moreover, as long as the Republican leadership tenaciously tries to remain in office by shouting “lack of support for the troops,” there can never be legitimate debate on the subject and we cannot know which is the better way to support those wearing our desert camo fatigues.
The Republican leadership suggests that those who want our troops out of Iraq are “cowards.” That is odd coming from many in the same Republican leadership who actually proved themselves cowardly during the Vietnam fighting by refusing to go there. That aside, it is not fair to call those who are not opposed to wars in general, merely this particular fiasco, cowards. Nor is it even fair to call pacifists who disagree with all wars cowards. In this country, it takes far more courage and bravery to oppose a war than to support it as the Republicans prove almost every day with their retaliatory efforts.
Worse, the Republican leadership in their efforts to subvert the elections, not to mention the concept of patriotism and free speech, label those who want out of Iraq as “traitors.” A much better argument could be made that the Republican leadership with its refusal to find alternatives to oil, fighting the war on the cheap where troops were forced to buy their own body armor, or war profiteering or outright violations of almost every principle in the Constitution constitute the real traitors today.
More importantly, for the Republican leadership to claim others are traitors, cowards or not supporting the popular troops shows just how much the Republican leadership are cowards themselves. Their efforts to suppress constructive criticisms suggests they fear their own ideas, policies and arguments are not persuasive. They are terrified of true democracy and unwilling to debate fairly. It is time to stop listening to anything they have to say.
As to the remarks by Senator Kerry that got the Republican leadership so excited, it should be noted that if the Republican leadership did not fervently believe in every single word the Senator said, then why are so few, if any, of their own privileged children are fighting in Iraq? Kerry may have been stupid to make such a remark, but that does not make the remark inaccurate.
In fact, if we are truly in a “Struggle for Civilization” itself as our fearful leader insists, then why aren’t the First Daughters wearing olive drab? The next time any Republican mentions the words “support of the troops,” the words “lying hypocrites” deserve mention.