William Jefferson Clinton has been on the receiving end of more magnanimity from George W. Bush than he has any reasonable right to expect. Ignoring the history of insults and slights his family has suffered at the hands of his predecessor, President Bush has repaid this ill-treatment with a large dose of Christian charity.
And what has the president received in return for this largesse? Much as he did when he was actively dodging the draft in the ’60s, Bill Clinton has taken to traveling the world denouncing our country’s military efforts, recently calling our handling of Iraq “a big mistake.” Worse yet, his remarks were made mere miles away from where U.S. troops are fighting and dying in defense of liberty.
Likewise, Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha has been in the news, calling for an immediate withdrawal of regular troops from the Iraq arena and tearfully rebutting criticism from Dick Cheney and others with the notion that those without combat experience should stay out of military affairs.
This absurd idea, though not a new concept, has been applied inconsistently, especially by liberals. It is interesting to note that the two most revered Democratic presidents of the 20th Century, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Clinton had no military experience whatsoever. This did not stop Clinton from defeating two war heroes at the ballot box or Roosevelt from successfully prosecuting World War II.
The truth is that battlefield experience or lack thereof should no more enhance or diminish the effectiveness of elected officials than say, Senator Robert Byrd’s ability to legislate racial issues. But the issue of military service goes more to the question of character than of any perceived insight into a person’s capacity to direct a war. And that’s the problem concerning our efforts in Iraq.
It seems from their most recent words and actions, that some on the left still do not understand that most of the troops in Iraq want to be there and that all have volunteered for military service. The next time your liberal friends shed crocodile tears over the deaths of 19 and 20 year-olds in Iraq, ask them: Did these heroes join up before or after the war started?
Liberals seem unable to comprehend the idea that there are those who see military service as a noble and altruistic calling. A great man once said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Still, many Democrats now want to undercut the mission of these brave men and women and diminish their sacrifice by suggesting that we abandon Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Helen Thomas, who seamlessly switched careers from reportage to commentary — with no noticeable difference in content — recently summed this up nicely by urging Democrats to adopt a new Iraq strategy:
The Democrats should also try to bolster the U.N. budget to finance a takeover of Iraqi security by the U.N. “blue helmet” peacekeepers… Former President Jimmy Carter, a Nobel peace prize winner, would be the best emissary to explore the possibility of a peaceful reconciliation between Iraq’s divided religious and ethnic factions — the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds.
It is hard to imagine a mind capable of suggesting that the UN, the embodiment of international corruption and appeasement, and Carter, a symbol of failed foreign policy and weakness, be allowed anywhere near the country of Iraq.
Yet however bizarre her writing on what she calls the “Iraqi misadventure,” Thomas is fairly representative of current liberal thinking in this area. To them, all war is wrong, no matter what the aim or outcome.
For a keener insight into liberal perplexity in matters of war and military service, one needs only to read the words of future Commander in Chief Clinton, writing in 1969 to excuse himself from a promise to join an ROTC program for which he had no further use after he drew a high draft number:
I am writing too in the hope that my telling this one story will help you to understand more clearly how so many fine people have come to find themselves still loving their country but loathing the military, to which you and other good men have devoted years, lifetimes, of the best service you could give. To many of us, it is no longer clear what is service and what is disservice, or if it is clear, the conclusion is likely to be illegal.
On a personal note, I’d like to express my annual Thanksgiving; to God and my grandparents for making me an American, and to the U.S. military for securing that privilege.
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