We’ve begun the war in Iraq, the peaceniks and those of us who espoused further diplomatic means have been pushed aside. So now what?
I live in “alternative” Boulder, Colorado, so it was no surprise to me that this afternoon there was a big peace rally with “impeach the president”, “what’s the real story, George?”, “oil is not a good justification for war”, “war is terrorism” and similar banners. Yesterday would have been a different story (I’m not at all in favor of what I believe is our heavy-handed action in the Middle East and have agitated for us paying more attention to the United Nations as a primary diplomatic body) but today I really wanted to ask the demonstrators “so what exactly do you think is our alternative now that the war has started?” Surely no-one is na�ve enough to think that we can just ‘back out’ and say ‘sorry’ at this point, even the most confirmed peacenik?
It’s a dilemma for many Americans, I believe, because as much as we might not want to be a part of the current military action, we can’t pull out. So we must rally and support our troops and pray for a quick, bloodless end to this fracas and madness.
To try and address the inevitable comparison, I don’t believe that Vietnam was the same situation at all. In fact, now that I think about it, wasn’t it the fault of the French that we were suckered into the region in the first place? In Vietnam we were “keeping the world safe for democracy” and were less concerned about the welfare of the South Vietnamese peoples. In this case our rhetoric (at least) is all about the welfare of the Iraqi peoples and our desire to ensure that, by acting preemptively, we minimize and contain the threat ostensibly posed by Hussein and his minions. Vietnam dragged on and on because we were in a tactical situation where we had a substantial disadvantage. In Iraq we have every advantage with an overwhelming force armed with the most advanced weaponry in the world, a strong air force with little, if any, meaningful resistance, etc. If it comes down to a door-to-door struggle in Baghdad, I believe that, again, it’s a finite and easily contained space and that, while inevitably bloody, it’s doable. The jungles of Vietnam were quite a different story, even after defoliants were used to ‘eliminate’ the jungle regions entirely.
That’s my two cents.
And being able to express my opinion without worrying about Brownshirts or Stazi knocking on my door tonight is one primary reason that we’re a great nation. The right to disagree, even vehemently, is a powerful and amazing right, one that precious few other nations share. And while I might not agree with the demonstrators today, I definitely and wholeheartedly support their right to demonstrate and even call for an impeachment. That’s what differentiates America from Iraq (along with a lot of other things!)