Tuesday, November 22, 2005

To Protest or Not to Protest

Before you get your protesting shoes all polished up, I’d like to ask you what it is you are eager to get to protesting.  Protesting something as general as “the war” or “the war in Iraq” has implications that many may not have thought through.

Please understand that I totally believe there is room for debate here.  I think that with any worthy undertaking it is very healthy to look at various sides and viewpoints.  I am not against the principle of protesting at all.  Nor do I agree with our current president on every issue in spite of my conservative leanings.

The first thing that must be understood is that protesting something as vague as “the war” has an adverse affect on everyone in uniform, whether State-side, or over in Afghanistan or Iraq for a number of reasons.  Anyone who claims to support the troops but not what the troops are doing ends up performing intellectual gymnastics of such complexity as to boggle the mind.  

The truth is that military’s job is to break things and kill people.  I know.  I’ve worn the uniform. They sign on to go into harm’s way knowing that there is a real risk of being killed.  Even in peace time.

As an aside, one of the reasons I got out of the Navy (back in ’95) was that I was tired of going to memorial services for my buddies.  One of my flight school roommates was killed when his helicopter crashed at night flying off the USS America.  I literally watched another buddy of mine kill himself by ejecting too late from his F/A-18 when it lost control right off the catapult on the USS Saratoga.

I say this not to shock you, but rather to help you understand that wearing the uniform is a dangerous business.  Anytime.  Our people in uniform know this. Even so they are still all volunteers!  Now I certainly will not diminish the pain and suffering that is born by the families of those who died.  And I still honor the memories of Rich and Sonny.  But to have lost slightly over 2100 souls in over 2-½ years of fighting a modern war is nothing short of miraculous.

Yet when we protest what our troops are assigned to do we devalue their service.  The protestors may say that they support the troops.  But somehow their protest signs and slogans never seem edify the military.  Perhaps that’s because the vast majority of the people who feel compelled to actually protest “the war” really don’t support the military as much as they claim they do.

Another reason protesting the war is hazardous to our troops is that it provides juicy propaganda for the people who are killing them over in Iraq.  When al-Jazeera is showing clips of our Senators and Congressmen demanding our military pull out now, it allows our enemies to say, “See! See! Their own leadership says that what the Americans are doing is wrong.  If they are wrong then killing them must be right.  Come join us and kill more Americans!”  Imagine how they’d respond to thousands of us waving signs and shouting to bring the military home before the job is done.

The other thing I find interesting is that many people who may be inclined to protest the war will say things like, “those people are not our enemies.”  That’s just plain ignorant.  We may not want them to be our enemies, but they have decided that we are their enemies.

According to the Islamists way of thinking, the thinking of the ones killing our troops, their enemies (i.e. us) have three options.  We can either convert to Islam (their flavor of Islam, that is), become slaves to the Islamists, or die. Preferably at their hand.

Running away and disengaging from this war that we are in the process of winning won’t change their world view and how they perceive we should fit into it.  My question to those who believe we should forfeit the war in Iraq as we draw near winning it would be which of the three options would you prefer?  The way I see it there are only four choices: conversion, slavery, death, or war.  Take out the war that leaves three.  Which one do you want?

For the people who say that we just need more understanding of our enemy, I will explain it in simple, mono-syllabic words that are easy for any first grader to understand: They want to kill us.

Now that may not be enough to make them our enemy to someone who is more used to intellectual gymnastics than I am.  But it really doesn’t matter because they’ve already declared that we are their enemy. Which, just for the record, by definition means that they are our enemy regardless of whether we recognize it or not.

I understand that it is unpleasant to see disturbing images from a war zone.  War is an ugly, unpleasant business.  But there are times when it is a necessary one.  When there is a group that is dedicated to killing us seems to me to be one of those times.

We are an amazing country.  We seem to be undefeatable in war and can only loose fights by forfeit like we did in Viet Nam or Somalia.  It astonishes me that there seems to be a growing call in our country to throw yet another fight.  Are we really like a marathon runner who, even though he is way out front, sees no need to bother crossing the finish line, but would rather just get in his car and go home because he is winded?

Pulling our troops out now will not lesson the killing in Iraq but rather increase it dramatically.  Not only that, but pulling out now will only save American lives in the extreme short run.  Long term it will lead to a grater loss of American lives because it will embolden and strengthen those who want to kill us.

Do you want to see some encouraging images from the war?  Check out this site here: Michael Yon: Online Magazine.  Michael Yon’s dispatches are fascinating, and should be required reading.

The bottom line is war stinks.  We can debate about pre-war intelligence and WMD’s till the cows come home. But I strongly disagree with anyone who says we shouldn’t resist those who are committed to destroy us.  I for one would much rather have the IED’s going off on the other side of the world than in my local police station or elementary school.  I do not want to see my country burn for weeks on end.

I am American, not French!

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