I don’t often write emotional pieces – I write about politics, and while I’m passionate, my truest, deepest emotions aren’t often involved. My heart, while constantly bleeding over injustice, isn’t fully engaged over what Bachmann fabricated this time, or how Gingrich is reinventing himself.
But about the wars . . . I get crossways with my liberal friends because I won’t decry the wars. I won’t condemn them. I won’t condemn the fact that we’re there. I won’t condemn the President for the fact that he hasn’t ended both wars. I won’t condemn the President for being a “hawk.” I won’t condemn President Obama for taking out terrorists in his drone attacks. I can hear the argument already – we’re also taking out civilians. But we can’t define the success of the war effort on behalf of all Iraqis or Afghanis, or the success of any mission, strictly on casualties.
My heart is fully engaged in this, and I won’t condemn President Obama; I can’t. My eldest son is in Afghanistan, along with other peoples’ sons and daughters, and he has bullets whistling over his head and bombs blowing up the vehicles he’s riding in, the vehicles in front of him, and behind him. He’s clearing the route of IEDs, he’s picking up the pieces of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soldiers and vehicles. Every terrorist President Obama kills with his drone attacks is that many less trying to kill my child and his battle buddies, that many less trying to plot further death upon this country. He talks about the children, all the small children, who so love the soldiers, about the civilians who are so grateful for our presence there.
No, I won’t dishonor what he, along with the many other men and women fighting overseas, is doing for this country, and for the Afghani citizens. Do I condemn Bush for getting us into these wars? I really don’t. Emotionally, I wanted us to retaliate after 9/11. I wanted that, as many Americans wanted that. Do we now, in hindsight, wish we hadn’t gone where we’d gone and done what we’d done? Maybe. At the time, though, I’ll admit that my pain, and pride in America, made me want us to hit back at the soulless terrorists who landed on our soil and took the lives of so many of our citizens.
The lies, the propaganda, all that came later, and with it, a condemnation of President Bush. If you notice, with all the posts I write, none of them are written condemning President Bush. He made a decision, one I approved of at the time, and I won’t now be one of the many who changed their minds. Hindsight is 20/20, and nobody, on 9/11, had the benefit of that.
My son joined the Army at 17 – and at 23, with a good life and a wife and two babies, he deployed. He went without a whine or a whimper, he went because it was his duty and he knew, at 17, that the day would come when he would be called. To condemn the wars would be to undermine and dishonor what my son and other soldiers are doing for this country, would be to dishonor his Commander in Chief, our president, President Obama. To condemn the wars is to say our soldiers’ time is wasted, our soldiers are dying for nothing, our soldiers are working for a dishonorable or useless end . . . no, I won’t do that.
Wiser minds than mine are making military decisions – and I trust our president and his advisors. Do I want my son and his fellow soldiers to come home? Yes, I do. Do I believe in the war against terrorism? Yes, I do, because without it, another 9/11 could happen, here – and, just as important, Afghani citizens are depending on us now, and I believe in nation – or “capacity” – building. Will I protest the one war now remaining overseas, in Afghanistan, scream and cry and gnash my teeth over the unfairness of it all? Never.
I promised my son that I would never protest or condemn or belittle this war, that I would never dishonor his service by reducing it to foolishness. People will argue with me; they’ll say that I can condemn the war and still honor the soldiers. No, you can’t do both. You either honor the mission and duty of the soldiers and so honor them, or you condemn the war and dishonor their mission.
I honor the soldiers, all of them. I honor their mission. I do believe they keep us safer, I do believe that our presence there is a humanitarian effort, that we provide some semblance of stability in a country rife with danger and conflict.
I’m not an isolationist; but more importantly, I will stand behind my son and his fellow soldiers as the backdrop of support that they all desperately need. Should something happen to my son overseas, I swear to you I will not become a Cindy Sheehan and let my grief take on a life of its own, lash out at the war and those directing it. I promised him that. He trusts me.
Being a “liberal” and believing in a humanitarian war effort should not be mutually exclusive. People . . . I thought that’s what liberals protect.
Copyright 2011 LA Progressive