We are at war. You would think that would be obvious, but it's not.
Our nation has been drawn into a conflict that we did not choose, by the actions of religious fanatics, militias, and their governments' tacit approval and sometimes support. Our citizens, our allies, and our national interests have been under attack since 1979, including our embassies, military bases, civilians on airlines and cruise ships, and our own World Trade Center twice. Our allies have been invaded and we led a coalition to turn the aggressors back.
In response to these and other threats, our representatives in government have enacted legislation to unseat a dictator and replace his government with a democracy (Iraq Liberation Act of 1998), give wide discretionary latitude to the president in fighting terrorism, including detaining persons or property, enhanced surveillance, and general carte blanche as long as it is in the name of National Security (USA Act of 2001), and we have gone on to unseat the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The Iraqi situation is of particular note because it has been official US policy to do so since October 1998, enacted by the Clinton administration.
We have undertaken hostilities and unleashed part of the awesome might of our military upon sovereign nations who have attacked us.
Remember, these are pieces of legislation that were very close to being unanimous in terms of voting. Democrats and Republicans came together on both of these major bills, and only a few who did not vote or were lone holdouts did not support them.
The legality of our actions is unquestionable. The War on Terror is legal and was supported by those who are now most vocal in their antiwar stance. The members of the Senate who had access to Intelligence regarding Saddam's pursuit of nuclear and biological weapons in defiance of 17 UN resolutions, and who voted accordingly, have been engaged for years in calling the President a liar for his use of the exact same Intelligence in pursuing the option to dethrone the dictator.
Your senators and representatives voted for this. By extension, YOU voted for this.
But something has happened. Democrats and faithless Republicans have turned not only away from the war, but also their nation. Because of the continuing influence of the Baby Boom generation, there is a movement underway to paint President Bush as Nixon, the War in Iraq as Vietnam, and the Intelligence controversy as Watergate.
The war has not been fought (due to leadership failures, not because of our troops) to the extent necessary to crush the opponent. We have been less effective at sealing the borders of Iraq than our own. There has been a quick turnover of control to the provisional government of the Iraqis, and millenia-old rivalries and cultural impediments continue to plague the entire process. We have not used fear to tame the populace in the postwar reconstruction. External assistance for the enemy has not been pursued and eliminated. There is no doubt that while we did great in the war and have been quietly amazing in the postwar, it could be done much more efficiently and with less risk to our own troops.
Regardless of the negative aspects of the war, we citizens have a duty to stand behind our government and military forces. If there is truly a movement to end the war and bring the boys home, then those representatives and senators need to stand up and call for cutting the purse strings -- the President may have discretion to use the troops, but it is Congress who determines how long he can afford to have them. To take a stand against the war is perfectly fine and in the American spirit; to lob media spitballs and undercut the war effort without really doing anything to end it is cheap and underhanded.
The antiwar crowd decries the President because of the detainees (illegal combatants), increased wiretap and surveillance of known foreign hostiles communicating with Americans, the perceived quagmire of Iraq, and the incorrect Intelligence regarding Saddam's weapons program.
The obvious counter to these charges is twofold. First, look at history -- Franklin Roosevelt had no problem rounding up American citizens of Japanese descent and putting them in camps in the desert. Robert Kennedy, Attorney General for John F. Kennedy, was responsible for wiretapping Martin Luther King. Abraham Lincoln famously suspended habeas corpus and deported a member of Congress, Clement Vallandigham, for his antiwar actions -- the Confederacy didn't want him either -- and had the military arrest a Maryland civilian for his antiwar actions as well. George Washington tested the brand-new constitution when he used the military to put down the Whiskey Rebellion and prevent western Pennsylvania from seceding.
In each of these cases, the constitution was tested. In Lincoln's case in particular, the actions of the president were likely NOT constitutional (suspending the writ of habeas corpus is in the Constitution, but it is not clear whether that power lies in the President or the Congress), but the defense is that if the nation falls, then no Constitution matters anymore. In other words, the security of the nation ultimately DOES trump the guarantees of the Constitution when the nation itself is at stake.
As a libertarian-minded conservative, that last sentence burns me like it hopefully does you. Obviously, it is preferable to change the government than rework the nation and come up with a new constitution. In extreme cases, however, survival, like that of the individual, will quickly become the single most important thing to a nation. If that means some areas of the Constitution are suspended for a time, then that will happen -- this is already law based on many bills regarding Civil Defense dating back to the Cold War, and newly updated by the aspects of the Patriot Act.
In any case, the charges made toward President Bush, although they may appear similar on the surface, are completely irrelevant. Remember, the issues facing the President are legally sanctified by the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 and the USA Act of 2001. The actions of this president are not only NOT unconstitutional, but also upheld in legislation that practically requires him to perform as he has. Not only is the safety and security of this nation at risk, WE have given him the discretion and there is simply no constitutional problem with his actions.
For now we have to band together as we did on 9/12/01. Regardless of the letter after the name of the president or Speaker, we need to win. Whether we should be involved or not is academic; we are there, and the people not only allowed it but demanded it in the form of the 2 laws discussed here. We are in, for better or worse. We must win, and that will not happen with the division and cheap political shots that undercut the effort.
My parents and grandparents participated in rubber, gasoline, and metal recycling drives (long before the commie envirostalinists were around) for the war effort. People had rations for groceries, and the face of our workforce changed as women went to work in factories to build tanks and planes for their fathers, husbands, brothers, and boyfriends. Hollywood made film after film extolling the glory of the soldier and the romanticism of wartime. The entire fabric of our society was involved in the war, and it was unequivocal in its support of our winning. There were blowhard senators who harrumphed about the war, but they were not taken seriously and the entire country was behind Our Boys and wanted them to win so they could come home.
Can anyone seriously imagine the guy in the cubicle next to you giving up the SUV so the Marines could have more gas? How about the HR manager going without her nylons? Or a movie (Flags of Our Fathers is an exception) that tells the story in a positive way? For that matter, how about an actor or musician signing up to serve? Are you willing to let your house go dark a couple of nights a week to help conserve energy?
We have lost a great deal in this country, and our war stance compared to that of a generation or two ago, is the most striking proof of that. We have to win. In order to do that, we have to support the effort. Most do this as I am now, with words on a screen. My parents rationed food.
We *ARE* at war.