Friday, October 20, 2006
What Does It Mean To Be Patriotic?
I was nearly startled to death while working out yesterday at the Y when I looked up at the television set. There on Fox News was a picture of President Bush and underneath it a headline to the effect, “Bush Compares War in Iraq to Vietnam.” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos had interviewed the president and asked him to comment on a column by Tom Friedman in the New York Times that compared the Tet Offensive in 1968 to what’s happening in Iraq right now. The president said the comparison “could be right.”
From the New York Times story, Bush Faces a Battery of Ugly Choices on War, “The Iraq situation is not winnable in any real sense of the word ‘winnable,’ ” Richard N. Haass, the former chief of the policy planning operations in the State Department during Mr. Bush’s first term, told reporters on Thursday.
As he has in the past, Bush is hoping an old family friend might be able to help him get out of this mess in Iraq just like that friend helped Bush become president.
The Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel co-chaired by former secretary of state James A. Baker III, a Republican, and former Indiana congressman Lee H. Hamilton, a Democrat could ride in to the rescue like the Lone Ranger. According to the Washington Post in the story ‘Major Change Expected in Strategy for Iraq,’ “Both Baker and Hamilton have made it clear that they do not see the administration's current Iraq policy as working.”
I don’t suppose any real changes will happen at least not until after the mid-term elections. But I got to thinking, and I feel a real turning of the tide despite the protestations of talk radio toadies like Rush Limbaugh and his little lapdog Sean Hannity. It’s not fueled by propaganda or stepped up violence. It’s fueled by a realization that everything our government leadership tells us ain’t necessarily so.
Call me unpatriotic if you will. I happen to think that if we do not ask questions, we are unpatriotic. I’ve been asking questions for some time now. Why, Mr. President, did you think this war was necessary? Why, Mr. President, did you trump up evidence to gain popular support for your efforts? Why, Mr. President, didn’t you send in enough troops to do the job? Mr. President, have we made Iraq a better country? Mr. President, how do you get us out of this mess?
And I thought back to WWII and how even in that war our government under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt made decisions we now question. Thousands of Japanese Americans, most of them U.S. citizens, were rounded up and placed in internment camps. Milton S. Eisenhower (President Eisenhower’s brother), the War Relocation Authority’s first director said, “I feel most deeply that when the war is over... we as Americans are going to regret the avoidable injustices that may have been done.” With the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, President Ronald Reagan’s signature to the act formally acknowledged America’s injustice—46 years later.
My final question for today: will we have the courage to ask as did Milton Eisenhower did the tough questions. Are we going to have avoidable injustices to regret?