I supported George W. Bush in the presidential
election in 2000, believing then that he best reflected my love for America
and our tradition of liberty. I supported the war in Afghanistan. In March of
2003, I believed the invasion of Iraq was justified based upon prewar revelations
presented to Congress and the American people. Accordingly, the indictments
contained herein apply, first and foremost, to myself.
Many Americans whom I know and love, including many current supporters of President
Bush, remain conflicted over both his ultimate intentions in Iraq as well as
domestic curtailment of civil liberties.
Many have given the benefit of the doubt to President Bush, and, in a misdirected
spirit of unity, have supported, as did I, administration policies that conflict
with our essential values.
This essay explores many of the issues that led me personally to the recognition
that the policies I was supporting in Iraq were not consistent with the justifications
made for the invasion in the spring of 2003, and that implicit in our post-invasion
actions was the goal of permanent
occupation, which would ensure endless war and the resultant degradation
of our liberty, security, and moral authority.
For me, recognizing that I could no longer support the president for whom I
voted, and the occupation of a land we had invaded, remains personally painful.
I have learned that while it is difficult to admit being wrong, such recognition
is a prerequisite for redemptive action, necessary both for individual growth
and for the healing of our nation.
It is in this spirit that I submit these reflections.
"Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions."
- Ulysses S. Grant
Heeding the admonitions of battle-hardened generals
is scarcely a strength of the Bush administration.
Dwight Eisenhower, his leadership tempered by his experience as supreme commander
of the Allied Expeditionary Force during WWII, and facing, in the dawn of the
nuclear age, an arms race with the Soviet Union, cautioned,
"There is no way in which a country can satisfy the craving for absolute
security, but it can bankrupt itself morally and economically in attempting
to reach that illusory goal through arms alone."
In his farewell
address, Eisenhower was the first to warn Americans of the dangers he observed
in the rapidly expanding military-industrial complex:
"The total influence economic, political, even spiritual is felt
in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government.
potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic
processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable
citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military
machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and
liberty may prosper together."
Eisenhower's judicious leadership and balanced priorities, despite a unified,
nuclear-armed, and assertive Soviet Union, averted nuclear catastrophe and preserved
In contrast, despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Bush regime,
not content with America's current status as the world's sole superpower, has
a National Security Strategy that seeks American hegemony and total dominance,
entailing a military industrial complex far greater than any of which Eisenhower
Those familiar with the Project
for the New American Century (PNAC), whose founders
include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and many others who went on to serve in
the Bush administration, know about their long advocacy of increased military
assertiveness, supported by an expanded worldwide network of permanent military
Regarding the Middle East, the PNAC policy statement published in 2000, "Rebuilding
America's Defenses [.pdf]," plainly stated the objective of an increased
military presence in the region as a reason for invading Iraq:"While the
unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need
for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of
the regime of Saddam Hussein."
An Administration Astray
"Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government."
- Thomas Jefferson, instructions to William Carmichael
The goal of total military dominance, pursued
by civilian (mostly non-veteran) war hawks despite the opposition of and warnings
from many of our most
experienced generals, not only conflicts with American ideals but is irreconcilable
with administration rhetoric. Indeed, President Bush and members of his administration
have taken precautions to dispel any notion that they have plans for a permanent
military presence in Iraq.
On April 13, 2004, President Bush said,"As
a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation
and neither does America."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, testifying before the Senate Armed Services
Committee on Feb. 17, 2005, stated,
"We have no intention, at the present time, of putting permanent bases
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said
in an interview on Iraqi television Aug. 15, 2005, "We are not seeking
to maintain permanent bases in Iraq."
But concrete speaks louder than words. In March 2004, the Chicago Tribune
reported the planned construction of 14
"enduring bases" in Iraq. By May 2005, the Washington Post reported
that plans called for consolidating American troops into four larger, more substantial
facilities, designed to withstand direct mortar attacks, centered around the
airfields in Tallil in the south, al-Asad in the west, Balad in the center,
and either Irbil or Qayyarah in the north. These were redesignated "Contingency
Operating Bases" in February 2005. Funding for the first group of redesigned
barracks was included in the $82 billion supplemental war spending bill approved
by Congress in May. Also included was funding for construction of the world's
largest embassy, located on 104 acres, with a staff of 1,020 and 500 guards.
This dissonance between President Bush's rhetoric of democracy and self-governance
and the reality of his actions has yet to be reconciled.
Once again, we may find guidance
in Eisenhower's words, which are relevant not only to Iraq, but within our own
"We know that freedom cannot be served by the devices of the tyrant.
And any who act as if freedom's defenses are to be found in suppression and
suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America."
"The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from
within what you are trying to defend from without."
Indeed, within America, in the name of defending our freedom, we witness the
ongoing and significant erosion
of fundamental civil liberties and the rule of law, erosions so egregious
that it is indeed difficult to comprehend their reality and future implications:
- We witness rulings that in the War on Terror, not only non-citizens, but
even an American citizen apprehended and accused on American soil, may be
without charges or trial.
- We witness the administration concocting legal theories to evade both the
Geneva Conventions as well as American legal prohibitions on torture. These
legal theories have now expanded to include the remarkable proposition that
the president, as commander-in-chief, has the "inherent
right" to "set aside" American law. When the Senate requested
the relevant legal memos advocating this proposition that "The president
is above the law," the administration not only refused congressional
access but classified the legal memos to be inaccessible until 2013.
- Despite military leaders and Republican senators, including former POW
John McCain, cautioning that American observation of laws against torture
have been vital to protecting our own servicemen, we have seen the administration
congressional efforts to reinstate these prohibitions.
Of the consequence of loosening the prohibition against the obtaining of confessions
by torture, Patrick Henry said
in 1789, "We are then lost and undone."
The moral gymnastics a patriotic American must perform to reconcile support
for these positions with long-honored American traditions of justice grow greater
with each subsequent encroachment.
How has it come to this?
Framing the Issues
"No speech about homeland security or Iraq should begin without a
reference to 9/11.
"If you describe it simply as a 'preemptive action,' some Americans will
carry deep reservations about the rightness of the cause. Americans are conditioned
to think that hitting first is usually wrong.
By far, the better word to use
than 'preemption' is 'PREVENTION'
- from GOP spinmeister Frank Luntz's June 2004 talking
Even the corrosive influence of a coarsened public
dialogue dominated by personal invective and focus-group-tested, predigested
talking points is not sufficient to blind observant Americans to the dissonance
between these actions and our values. The repercussions of perpetual war, unwanted
occupation of a foreign land, a reviled America abroad, and permanent erosions
of our liberties have rendered the rents in the fabric of our democracy all
too apparent. Rationalization for such egregious departures from our values
can be accomplished only with the generous use of denial and self-deception.
A predictable pattern has developed. Misguided policy most specifically,
a policy that convinces
Iraqis we are intent upon permanent
increasing insurgency. With each setback, President Bush has reacted by rhetorically
"upping the ante." Each escalation of rhetoric is accompanied by increasingly
strident claims that those taking exception to his policies are "siding
with the terrorists."
In his call to arms, "You are either with us or against us," by paraphrasing
the words of Christ from the 12th chapter of Matthew, President Bush appropriates
the language of faith for the cause of total and unquestioning support for his
Such framing of the issues encourages a view of reality with only two options:
siding with an infallible, virtuous, freedom-spreading America led by George
Bush, ordained by God to democratize the world, or siding with evil.
"Upping the ante," as well as the redefining of both patriotism and
divine will so as to be in accord with administration policy, solidifies our
emotional commitment to the premise that every act of war, every Fallujah, every
death of a son or daughter, every "liberated" Iraqi civilian who becomes
"collateral damage," every new infringement
upon our civil liberties, is all for the greater good. By such a process, we
may find solace, avoid recognition of the actual horrors we have come to support,
and psychically deflect responsibility for the unintended, but predictable,
consequences of our actions.
When faced with facts that do not fit this worldview, a "true believer"
may resolve the cognitive dissonance by simple disbelief. When confronted, on
Hannity & Colmes, with the revelation that American hero Pat
Tillman, killed while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, opposed
what he viewed as an illegal war in Iraq, Ann Coulter could only express
disbelief. Hannity agreed: "I don't believe it either.
up because of a desire to fight." Coulter then incorrectly speculated that
this must be a fabrication of the media. The reality of a patriotic American
who would give up a lucrative sports contract to risk his life defending America
in Afghanistan, while simultaneously opposing the war in Iraq, appeared to both
Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity simply incomprehensible.
A "with us or against us" dichotomy forces Americans to choose between
blind support for misguided policy, or painful but necessary patriotic dissent
while being unjustly maligned as "siding with the enemy."
Like the courageous and patriotic Pat Tillman, many Americans share a more
nuanced view of the world and are committed to proper moral action. But rejecting
a falsely polarized, overly simplified "Us or Them" view may be difficult
for those patriotic Americans who share a deep commitment to our values of liberty,
but who also feel a moral obligation to speak out to correct policies inconsistent
with those values.
Breaking free from this false framing of reality requires independent vision,
intellectual honesty, and the courage to face painful realities. Skillful control
of the framing of issues
[.pdf] has been a significant factor in advancing the Bush/Rove agenda. Utilizing
the skillful linguistic and psychological cunning of Frank Luntz's talking points,
the Bush/Rove machine has mastered the art of spin.
But just as the fabled unclad emperor learned, there are limits beyond which
a false version of reality cannot be sustained. There comes a point at which
the price of believing the prevailing myths becomes too great.
Such is now the case on the ground in Iraq.
Voices of Reality
"The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise."
- Proverbs 15:31
While President Bush emphatically rejects
the suggestion that "extremism has been strengthened by the actions of
our coalition in Iraq," senior military and intelligence officers report
a different reality:
- Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency,
tells the Senate Intelligence Committee, "Our
policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment [.pdf]."
- CIA Director Porter Goss testifies, "Islamic
extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists [.pdf]."
- Gen. George Casey, the senior commander of coalition forces in Iraq, tells
a congressional panel that coalition forces "feed
the notion of occupation" and "fuel
- Gen. John B. Abizaid of the U.S. Central Command testifies that it is critical
to "reduce our military footprint" in the region to "make
clear to the people
that we have no designs on their territory and resources."
- Larry Diamond, former advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in
Iraq, states, "Intense opposition to U.S. plans to establish long-term military
bases in Iraq is one of the most passionate motivations behind the insurgency.
.There are many different strands to the violent resistance that plagues
Iraq: Islamist and secular, Sunni and Shi'ite, Ba'athist and non-Ba'athist,
Iraqi and foreign. The one thing that unites these disparate elements is Iraqi
(or broader pan-Arab) nationalism resistance to what they see as a long-term
project for imperial domination by the United States.
this anti-imperial passion by clearly stating that we do not intend to remain
in Iraq indefinitely is essential to winding down the insurgency."
- Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), a veteran of Vietnam, states, "We should
start figuring out how we get out of there.
I think our involvement there
has destabilized the Middle East. And
the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."
But President Bush is undeterred by these patriotic voices of realism.
As with his threats to veto congressional attempts to reinstate American bans
on torture, the president rejects congressional action to neutralize the greatest
of source of Iraqi resistance by rejecting a permanent military presence in
On a national level, the "moral
bankruptcy" of which Eisenhower warned may be reflected in a loss of
authority. Not only may this be a factor in worldwide loss of esteem, but
it may provide passion and longevity to the widespread resistance to our leadership.
The most tragic moral consequences, however, accrue to those who suppress
their more noble instincts to blindly accept ill-fitting and ever-changing rationales
that conflict with our most cherished principles.
That this may be done out of a misdirected sense of patriotism or faith is of
Reclaiming the American Consensus
Emerging from moral bankruptcy requires that we
properly reframe the issues:
We must not surrender the flag and faith to those who would use both to support
a war that honors neither.
To those who would attempt to silence Americans with the call that "We
must support our troops," we must meet squarely on the issues: The troops
are our sons, our daughters, our husbands, our wives. They volunteered to defend
our nation, not to pursue a hidden agenda of those who do not honor our nation's
values. We must never abuse their courage, their patriotism, and their sacrifice.
To those who insist we must spread liberty: Our Founders established our nation
as a beacon of liberty. We must never confuse the defense of liberty with the
pursuit of an agenda of domination that is offensive to our democratic values
and counterproductive to our security, inflaming the passions and determination
of those less powerful.
To those who exploit a climate of fear to assert that we must now abridge fundamental
liberties for the sake of security, we must recall the insights of wiser Americans:
"Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves
neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin
"Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have."
- Harry Emerson Fosdick
"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of
fighting a foreign enemy."
"We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties."
- James Madison
To those who claim that we who oppose the war in Iraq are "anti-American,"
we must answer with the truth that we who oppose the occupation come from all
points on the political spectrum Democrats, Republicans, and independents,
left, right, and center and include the majority
of Americans. To those who persist in challenging our patriotism, we must
speak the words of Theodore
"To announce that there should be no criticism of the president, or that
we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, it is not only unpatriotic
and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American people."
The issues that unite the growing American "antiwar
majority" today are principles that since our founding have defined what
it means to be an American. So ingrained have these core American values become
in our national psyche that even those who seek entirely opposing goals routinely
give them rhetorical lip service:
- War only with prior
obtained for justifiable, non-aggressive, honestly stated purposes.
- No ambition of empire,
or desire to dominate,
and rejection of the role of world policeman.
- Belief that only a society that both respects and actually practices
individual freedom, rather than seeking the illusion of security through authoritarian
measures, will succeed in preserving and spreading genuine liberty.
- The conviction that no man, including the president, is above
- An uncompromising belief in the humane
treatment of even our most despicable enemies.
Americans, with broad bipartisan support, have not only embedded our unambiguous
of torture into American law (establishing legal constraints the Bush administration
is now determined to dismantle), but have for generations been in the forefront
of establishing such standards worldwide through treaties including the Geneva
Similarly, previous generations of Americans left, right, and center have
been unified in the belief that not only is such conduct essential for the safety
of our own captured servicemen and women, but that any nation that does not
adhere to its own basic values (regardless of any self-proclaimed virtue) would
cease to possess the moral prerequisites for genuine success.
Our present need for "the
decent respect for the opinions of mankind" is no less compelling than it
was for our Founders. But the primary need for realigning our actions with our
values is not improved public relations. The most compelling need is for the
benefit of our own society, to reaffirm moral constraints upon our actions,
individual and collective, without which the character of our nation will be
Accomplishing this can only be done by reframing the issues in a manner befitting
our Judeo-Christian and secular values.
This will be contentious. The unifying values implanted by America's Founders
values of liberty, nonaggression, and antipathy to authoritarian government
have historically prevailed despite significant opposition from Americans
with less honorable priorities. Indeed, the very eloquence with which Jefferson,
Madison, and others defended civil liberties and warned repeatedly of the dangers
of power, war, and empire was necessary because their views were not universal.
Their beliefs in liberty, defended by non-aggressive, anti-imperial foreign
policy, and the right of dissent have survived to become the "common ground"
of the American civic vision only after bitter and divisive political battles.
During such battles, these cherished principles now universally claimed (even
by those who oppose them in substance) and taken for granted have not infrequently
been severely threatened.
Today, the rhetoric of this consensus vision of liberty and nonaggression
remains unscathed. But the substance of our political compact is under assault.
Certainly no one overtly challenges our commitment to "liberty" and
"democracy." Yet we witness proponents of "freedom" at home
and abroad advocating perpetual military occupation and rationalizing the permanent
detention of American citizens without
charges or trial, and those who claim to respect the rule
of law remaining silent while administration lawyers concoct giant loopholes
for the president.
How have conscientious and patriotic Americans come to support policies so
antithetical to our values?
- How can so many remain unmoved when all evidence shows our stated justification
for our first ever preemptive war is unsubstantiated
- How can a self-proclaimed Christian, writing in his weekly column
in National Review, the "flagship
of the modern conservative movement," bemoan that our nation is not willing
"to fight this war the
way it needs fighting, with grim ferocity and cold unconcern for legalistic
niceties? To lay waste great territories and their peoples, innocent and guilty
alike, to level cities, to burn forests and divert rivers, to smite our enemies
hip and thigh, to carry out summary execution of captured leaders"?
- How can anyone have their "faith renewed" by British police putting
the Noggin" of a an
- How can so many who profess "moral values" remain missing in
action as the president claims the right
to legitimize torture? How can they remain in denial even as Sen. Lindsey
Graham (R-S.C.), an Air Force colonel with congressional access to suppressed
Abu Ghraib evidence, reports, "The American public needs to understand
we're talking about rape
and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating
experience"? How can 20 million radio listeners a week applaud as a mocking
Rush Limbaugh maligns Sen. Graham as a "Republican in Name Only"
and shamelessly promotes
Ghraib Day" parties?
Most sobering is that these perverse sentiments do not result solely, or even
primarily, from the shameless exploitation of fear. Rather, they arise as the
unintended consequence of a worldview that derives its strength from a direct
appeal to and diversion of American's most honorable instincts.
Support for virtuous goals may mutate over time into support for malignant
policy. Many, perhaps most, who now tacitly support perpetual occupation would
never have supported such a policy at the time of the invasion. Many supporters
of President Bush applauded his repeated
past assertions that any commitment of troops requires an "exit strategy," and
opposing conquest, occupation, and "nation-building." Congressional Republicans
cited similar convictions in opposing the war in the Balkans.
Support for misguided war policy evolves incrementally with shifting justifications
for the war. After support solidifies, the "goal posts" may be moved to align
with a prior hidden
agenda. Doubts as to the soundness of the policy or the propriety of its
circuitous implementation are deflected by appeals to patriotism. Ultimately,
anesthetized supporters may dismiss abhorrent consequences with such mantras
as "Bad things happen in war."
Increasing casualties may paradoxically galvanize support as it becomes ever
more consequential to acknowledge error. Culpability is negated by increasing
commitment to the initial noble goals, and to the contention that the policy
fits those goals. Conflicting information eliciting cognitive dissonance is
met with increasing denial. Views calcify.
In this manner, good people may become inexorably committed to malignant policy.
That such a flawed paradigm can be based upon noble values both underscores
the import of the proper framing of the issues and illustrates the formidable
challenges of achieving constructive change.
Fear perversely augments this process. In a perilous world, authoritarian measures
that exploit an insatiable desire for security become especially seductive.
Our present policies provide ample evidence of the perverse outcomes of such
an illusory quest for security. In Iraq, the pursuit of "stabilization" by means
of perpetual occupation is bearing instead the fruit of endless war. And in
America, the upward ratcheting of the "national security state" in pursuit of
"safety" can only deliver one result: the abdication of our individual liberty
and our open society. Countless refugees from tyranny know that suppression
is no guarantee of safety.
When Edmund Burke observed, "The people will only give up their liberty
under some delusion," he presciently foretold our current paradox: a "freedom-loving"
people not only acquiescent to the surrender of their liberty, but welcoming
in the pursuit of the mirage of security.
Rejecting such beguiling but false promises requires more than the courage
to face uncertainty. Although authoritarian solutions are counterproductive
in securing liberty, a frenzy for safety may reward the unscrupulous politician
at the polls.
Reestablishing an American consensus for an honest, reality-based
policy of national defense and domestic liberty requires the integrity to refrain
from exploiting the twin passions of fear
But this is the challenge we must overcome if we are to avoid endless war and
preserve for our children a free and open society.
This will be difficult. The cult of empire is propped up by a ubiquitous and
machine. Megastar media surrogates saturate the airways with their 24/7
presence. They advance a creed of conquest that confuses the strength to defend
the nation with the pursuit of world domination. Their message thrives on the
demonization of both foreign power and domestic dissent. While they peddle a
creed that holds in contempt both the actual exercise of liberty and the practice
of authentic faith, these false prophets cloak their message with a veneer of
moral and patriotic values. And they have infected our culture with their audacious
claim that their values reflect the values of America. The challenge of properly
reframing these issues is amply demonstrated by the 22 percent of Americans
who say they rely on talk
radio as their primary source of news.
But cracks are appearing in the ideological foundation beneath this ahistorical
and insupportable view of America as empire.
The moral blind spots displayed by those who profess respect for the rule of
law and moral values regarding a presidential "right" to "set aside law" and
legitimize torture are symptoms of the "moral bankruptcy" of which Eisenhower
These blind spots reflect a void in the soul of America. Filling this vacuum
requires rejecting false idols, repairing a flawed paradigm, and restoring a
consensus based upon authentic American values. No simple formula will address
all issues. But the "common ground" to be found in the still revolutionary vision
of America's founders a vision embracing individual
liberty, opposing wars of conquest,
protecting the rights of dissent,
limiting presidential powers,
and maintaining the moral high
ground with unambiguous rejection of any legitimate role for torture maintains
its power by virtue of its moral authority. This compelling vision provides
unifying objectives to America's growing antiwar majority.
Those supporting current policies will continue to use all the resources of
their propaganda machine to attempt to perpetuate their distorted view of the
role of power, of empire, and of America's role in the world. And they will
continue to appropriate the rhetoric of "freedom" to promote policies
that repudiate the substance of the American vision of liberty.
We must reframe the terms of debate to reclaim America's authentic vision.
We cannot permit a war begun for the purpose of disarming a tyrant to be used
to justify the permanent unwanted occupation of a foreign land.
We must never enable the rhetoric of patriotism and faith to support a policy
of domination pursued through deception.
Nor the rhetoric of fear to blind us to the dismantling
of the legal framework for our freedoms.
We can no longer tolerate business-as-usual politicians in either party who
will not act to reassert constitutional restraints on executive power, end a
misguided war, and repel the perilous assault
on civil liberties.
Effective action requires that we first overcome our own denial.
We cannot absolve ourselves from responsibility by pointing to our cowardly
John Locke, intellectual mentor to America's Founders, stated in his "Essay
on Human Understanding" in 1689, "It is vain to find fault with the
arts of deceiving, wherein men find pleasure to be deceived."
Overcoming this human frailty remains a formidable challenge.
The False Comfort of Self-Deception
Many besides myself can attest to the difficulties
associated with effecting genuine personal change. Denial remains a potent disincentive
to change precisely because of the compelling subjective benefits it affords.
These transient emotional comforts can present a formidable barrier both to
personal growth as well as to the correction of a dysfunctional political system.
For many reasons, it may be problematic to move beyond the illusory comforts
of denial to experience the uncertainties of reality.
- It is much easier on our moral sensibilities to believe we invaded for
the noble cause of disarming an outlaw than to face the shameful truth that
the rationale we used for our first ever preemptive war was based on false
- When evidence for weapons is lacking, it is much more gratifying to believe
we are on a mission to democratize grateful oppressed peoples than to grapple
with the unpleasant understanding that they regard us as unwelcome occupiers.
- It is less depressing to imagine we are stabilizing a volatile region than
to recognize that we are fueling
and hardening hatred.
- It is less disconcerting to delude ourselves with the belief that our leaders
are on a mission to liberate all humanity than to comprehend that, in a climate
of fear, the legal infrastructure protecting our own liberties is being systematically
and permanently dismantled.
- It is more reassuring to believe in the truthfulness of our president than
to grasp the fact that while he continues to claim no
intent for permanent occupation, permanent-base
construction continues unabated.
- It is more tempting to seek solace in the "With Us or Against Us"
simplicity of George W. Bush, disregarding inconvenient facts and unintended
consequences, than to heed the wise and more nuanced counsel of Generals George
Casey, John Abizaid,
Clark, Tony McPeak,
or Dwight Eisenhower.
- It is far more comforting to believe that the Iraq war has been sanctioned
by God than to recognize that fallible human leaders have dishonestly abused
[.pdf] of patriotism and faith to advance
policies that dishonor our values.
- It is more consoling to entertain the myth that our soldiers will be there
"as long as they need to be, and not one day longer," than to awaken
to the terrible truth that those who peddled
this war to Americans as a focused military action, necessary for disarming
a tyrant, have no intention of ever departing from Iraq, regardless of Iraqi
wishes, and contrary to administration rhetoric
about Iraqi democracy,
But the price of continued denial is too great. The realities on the ground
in Iraq, of which Gen. Casey tells us, cannot be changed by wishful thinking.
Occupation of foreign lands incites insurrection. And in our own land, as James
Madison observed, "No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual
Blind adherence to the false conceits of those whose quest is world domination
can lead only to continued erosion of our moral authority and our esteem and
influence abroad, and damage to our freedoms and democracy at home.
In the eloquent prose of the King James translation, the Author of Proverbs
tells us, "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before
The solace to be found in self-deception is impermanent.
A true solace, one more substantial than that afforded by the denial of reality,
may be more profitably sought in constructive action.
Thomas Jefferson told us, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for
people of good conscience to remain silent."
Patriotic Americans can no longer afford the hollow comforts of blind self-deception,
nor the transient respite of continued silence.