Monday, January 29, 2007

Counter Protest

It really is great to live in a country where the citizens of our country can organize and protest the actions of our government without fear of retribution.

It really is ironic to live in a country where some of our citizens use this freedom to oppose government actions as a tool to oppose acts of freedom.

It really is shameful to live in a country that shed the blood of patriots paying for this freedom to protest where some citizens use their right to protest to denounce acts of patriotism in another country.

It really is sad to see so many protestors claim that America did not learn the lessons of Viet Nam when it is the protestors themselves who did not learn the right lessons of Viet Nam.

It really is comical to see so many protestors patting themselves on the back for bravery when their protest message represents the majority view in our country.

It really is pathetic to have so many mainstream news organizations report on the Iraq anti-war protests this weekend without any hint of appropriate criticism.

Most American soldiers serving in Iraq want to be in Iraq fighting so the Iraqi people can have the same freedom we are blessed with in America. Nobody wants to die a premature death, especially a soldier who is more valuable to the military alive than dead. However, soldiers in the American military have all chosen to risk their lives in order to fight for freedom in Iraq. Protesters are not representing or speaking for soldiers when they claim Iraq is not worth the loss of American lives. Soldiers represent and speak for soldiers. The soldiers believe, and have made it clear, that Iraq is worth the risk to their lives.

Two million people are estimated to have been murdered in Cambodia and Viet Name after the Untied States turned Viet Nam over to the communists. The lesson of Viet Nam is that a commitment of military personnel and resources to another country is a sacred obligation. There really are bad guys in the world who do not hesitate to murder anyone and everyone who is a challenge to their authority. Iraq is not yet ready to withstand the authority of the leaders of Iran.

What is best for Iraq and what is best for America are legitimate concerns, but there is only one question that needs to be answered regarding the continued American presence in Iraq: What is best for the future of freedom in the world? The anti-war protesters are unable to answer this question.

I suspect organized protests nowadays don’t have the same impact as in the past. Political polling is a more accurate, although still flawed, reflection of public sentiment and diversified sources of news and information insures that minority views get represented now.

Here is one minority view: We should learn the right lesson from history and we should listen to the soldiers, not the wet-finger-in-the-air Senators and certainly not the stuck-in-time protestors.


Dave Smith said...

Hey, David:

I agree! For the most part, these protesters just don't get it. They see the President as a greater threat than the Islamo-fascists! They refuse to see that the Denial/Utopia they're attempting to live in is doomed.

Oh well!

Rick and Gary said...

Hi David -- I agree on the war protesters. It's silly and infantile.

But when you say, "there is only one question that needs to be answered regarding the continued American presence in Iraq: What is best for the future of freedom in the world?"

From that narrow question, to me, the answer is very clear: Allow them to suffer the consequences of their ridiculously stupid, selfish, self-destructive behaviors. The problem is that we're addicted to their oil.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks! I’m almost certain some of the protesters don’t understand all of the implications of withdrawal from Iraq now, but I’m willing to bet many of them do know the consequences and don’t care.

I’m also sure I don’t understand all of the consequences of staying or withdrawing, but I know some of the consequences and what I know is enough for me to be adamant that the United States military should stay in Iraq until Iraq can govern and protect itself.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Rick,

I’ve noticed you haven’t been posting for a while. Where have you been?

Oil is a factor in world politics and world economics, but I don’t believe oil is THE factor for the American involvement in Iraq. Oil is plentiful and cheap. The benefit of Iraq adding to the world oil supply doesn’t equate to the cost of this war. This war is about terrorism and militant Islamic extremists.

If I was convinced that most of the Shia wanted to kill most of the Sunni’s and most of the Sunni’s wanted to kill most of the Shia, then I would agree we should abandon Iraq and let them kill each other. However, I have heard too many soldiers talk about how generous and how decent the Iraqi people are. I believe an overwhelming majority of Iraqis want to live in peace and freedom.

I also believe the Middle East has got to have at least one country where the citizens do live in peace and freedom. Therefore, I believe our military should stay and persevere for as long as it takes.

Rick and Gary said...

Hi David -- We've been on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It's really helped to keep up our tennis game, since, unfortunately, we've got really limited options for indoor courts here. (Now I'm super sore)

I'm sure there are some really great Iraqis who really want freedom as we understand it, although I'm skeptical that it's even close to a majority.

I just don't think freedom is something you can give people (or, really, sell to people). Our Constitution is very much a product of sectarian wars in 17th Century Europe that would make Iraq look like kindergarten.

Oil may be cheap and plentiful, but it would not be if the whole Middle East turned into a giant blood bath. That's what they really need to start acting like adults. And that's what we can't allow because of the oil.

David M. Smith said...

Hi again Rick,

Perhaps I made a leap of hopeful faith. I don’t know for certain that the good people in Iraq are the majority. I do know that there is a tremendous resistance to freedom by many religious and sectarian leaders. I don’t see a happy ending to this story, but I do see years and years of a righteous struggle that has the possibility of an improved Middle East.

America can’t force freedom in Iraq, but Americans can start the process. Withdrawal at this point would be going backwards, in my opinion. At some point, Iraq has to stand on its own. I’m as anxious as you to get to that point; I just don’t think it is the right time.

I am very jealous of you getting to go to Kauai. Did you do any hiking on the Napali coast?

Buz said...

I remember the protests of the 60s, and whether you felt they were legitimate or not, one thing that they had going for them was that those who were most active had the very real motivation that they were the ones who could have been drafted and have been sent into combat.

I am not even really sure WHY the protestors are at it today. Other than a hatred for GWB and most of the republican party. It seems that they were able to ride that horse back into power, but I am not sure where the horse came from. I guess the point could be made that their children could be sent to Iraq (a la Cindy Sheehan), but that would be only if they enlisted. (Although, a few democrats did threaten to bring back the draft ... that would have been an interesting strategy ... "if you don't help us defeat the republicans, we'll kill you" ... sadly, I am not confident that our voting public would have been intelligent enough not to have blamed the republicans for "killing them".)

Mostly what they remind me of is a bunch of two-year-olds who didn't get their way and decided to kick and scream until they did.

More than anything else, perhaps the lesson of Viet Nam and Iraq is that if you scream loud enough, long enough, you can get your way.


David M. Smith said...

Hi Buz,

I was thinking about the draft as an important difference between then and now, but I neglected to include it in my piece. Thanks for adding it. You are right, the draft was a major difference.

Most people do not agree with the vitriol of the protesters, but I believe most people do want the United States to pack up and leave. I think Rick probably represents the majority point of view.

Perhaps a moderate or third party candidate in 2008 will be able to articulate a position that allows for a slight retreat without an all out surrender. I would like to see Iraq through until there is peace and a stable democracy that respects the rights of all of the ethnic groups.

Rick and Gary said...

Hi David -- Yep, we hiked the Pihea trail, along the rim of Kalalau Valley. Awesome stuff!

The worst part about Iraq's prospects is the loss of its middle class, which has fed the country. That's really the glue that keeps a society coherent.

I'm reminded of what happened to black inner-city neighborhoods in the U.S. in the 1960's, when fair-housing laws allowed the black middle class to move out the burbs.

Dave Smith said...

As wonderful as it would be for the people of Iraq to enjoy the blessings of liberty - and I hope they'll step up and do what it takes to secure it - that's not my first priority.

Bottomline: Of primary concern is the defense of our families and homes, our nation itself from the ravages of these Islamo-fascists. For the sake of clarity, let me put it in extreme terms: If the people of Iraq desire to butcher each other in a civil war - God forbid! - then I say alright as long as we aren't threatened, that they keep it over there.

I'm not saying the two goals are antithetical, by the way. But I want all our other goals in this war viewed through the lense of that one supreme goal.

That's how I want my government and military to stack things up. The protesters out there, besides being in denial, are in many cases, nothing more than yellow-bellied cowards, completely unworthy of the freedom that their forefathers purchased for them and that thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines continnue to try to guarantee.

Once again, oh well!

David M. Smith said...

Hi Dave,

Perhaps as a country, using American troops, we should only be concerned about the safety of Americans, but I still feel a pit in my stomach when the military mission is described as only for Americans.

America already has better protection from Islamic fascism than any other country due to our separation by oceans, our internal security, and our melting pot disposition. European, Asian, and African countries and their people are much more at risk of terrorism than the people of the United States.

I would never advocate that you should risk your life for the people living in France or anywhere else, but if I had the resources and the ability, I would risk my life for freedom throughout the world, not just America.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Rick,

As much as I think many of the problems in Iraq are overstated by our media, I’m sure many of the ghetto’s in Iraq are far worse than the inner city ghetto’s in America in the 60’s.

The Iraqi people need to feel like they have a stake in the success of Iraq. I’m sure it’s hard for people living in poverty in Iraq to envision a prosperous future. The oil share agreements should give them some hope. Success will take a long time.

Buz said...

Dave (the one without the "m."),

(Are there two Dave Smiths talking here, or do I need to have my bi-focals re-united into a uni-focal?)

I am not 100% sure that the protestors are cowards. I believe that their motivation is more likely (1) an intense hatred of the current administration and the desire to use any means to descredit it (if Martians attacked us, they would probably blame Bush for sending the Mars rovers up there), or (2) people who have the mistaken belief that enough talk can solve any problem. So, I think that foolishness is a greater driving force than cowardice.


Dave Smith said...

Hey yet again, David:

Once again, note I'm stating things in the extremes; sharp contrasts have a way of clarifying things. I think the argument can and needs to be made (even more!) that a stable Iraq helps us with our priorities too! The two goals aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

Nonetheless, we have to be hardheadedly realistic about what we're trying to accomplish in this war. We have to have priorities! When I'm doing marriage counseling, for example, it does no good if I want the couple to have a healthy marriage more than they do. Likewise, we can't want democracy for the Iraqi people more than they want it. They have to have a true desire for it or we're wasting our time.

Yeah, Buz, this is a different Dave Smith. My first name is actually William, but my parents, being Southerners, used my middle name. Trust me, it's created lots of confusion over the years! David M. Smith and I go back over 15 years in our friendship when I lived in SoCal.

As for the anger and foolishness being the primary issues with many of these protesters, I don't know that we necessarily disagree. I sense that a good many want to jump on the romantic, idealistic rebel bandwagon, but I suspect that can be used as a cover for spaghetti spines.

Who knows? There's no scientifically reliable means of testing the degree to which our views are true. Still, a good post forcing me think!

David M. Smith said...

I had problems with my name long before I ever met Chaplain Dave. My High School had three David Smith’s at one point. More than once I go summoned to the Principal’s office for a matter I had no clue about. Funny how it never seemed to work the other way around.

Even now, there are about 10 David Smith’s working for EDS. I learn quite a bit reading e-mail that was never intended for me. : - )

Buz said...

re: learning the lessons of history. I was discussing the two wars (Viet Nam and Iraq) with a co-worker, and pointing out the various differences. His comment, was that perhaps the lesson to learn is "don't elect candidates from Texas as President."


David M. Smith said...

Hi Buz,

The character of a person, the character of a President, and the character of a nation are never tested when all risk is postponed into the future.

I wish the Viet Nam war did not happen. I also wish the Iraq war did not need to happen. However, I believe the Iraq war did need to happen in order to avoid future consequences and possible catastrophes. One of the reasons the Iraq war needed to happen during the Presidency of George W. Bush was because the Gulf War cease fire agreement was not enforced by the U.N. or the Clinton Administration.

I am very thankful we had a President who understands the importance of confronting terrorism and radical Islam in the Middle East during this period in our history. I’m also thankful we did the confronting in Iraq and not in America.

Perhaps the lesson to learn is that our next President should be from the state of Florida! : - )

Buz said...

Well, in my short-lived blog I opined that the character of the nation and the character of its leaders are intertwined. We tend to live up to, or down to the character of our leader. And, conversly, we tend to elect people who have a similar level of character to what we want our level to be.

Still waters run deep, but it is the babbling brooks that go places.