Patriotism and asking good hard questions

January 24, 2007 | By | 1 Reply More

Did you see Virginia Sen. Jim Webb’s response to the President’s State of the Union address last night?  Here’s the text.

The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command. . .and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted – disarray that has followed.

And what about the recent remarks of Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska?

“There is no strategy,” he said of the Bush administration’s war management. “This is a pingpong game with American lives. These young men and women that we put in Anbar province, in Iraq, in Baghdad are not beans; they’re real lives. And we better be damn sure we know what we’re doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder.”

A Vietnam veteran, he fairly lectured fellow senators not to duck a painful debate about a war that has grown increasingly unpopular as it has gone on. “No president of the United States can sustain a foreign policy or a war policy without the sustained support of the American people,” Hagel said.

Until recently, the Administration and it’s many supporters (where did most of them go) slammed people who raised the above sorts of concerns as traitorous and unpatriotic. Why?  Because Bush’s (former) supporters said so. Lazy and seeking imminent satisfaction, like toddlers, they didn’t want to do the intellectual ground work.  Their reach was, indeed, greater than their grasp.

Have we learned anything about the importance of vigorously questioning our leaders?  I think that many of us have.  Many of us have learned that huddling together like timid sheep is danagerous and stupid. Many have learned that we are stonger when we treat the voices of sincere criticism with respect.  After all, if those critics are wrong, we should be able to explain why without venom; once we do this, they’ll join us.  If those critics are correct, though, we need to publicly acknowledge those criticisms and change our ways. For our own good.

Perhaps it’s because the lessons we’ve learned about communicating are so patently obvious that the President is bypassing communication alltogether in his secret dealings with Iran. 

What concerns me about Iran is that (I fear) decisions are being made without any meaningful public discussion.  Unlike Iraq, where the Administration duped America, we are edging toward disaster with Iran in silence, repeatedly provoking Iran to make the first move. The American public is not being asked what they think about going to war with Iran. 

So here’s the biggest lesson our President learned from Iraq:  When no one knows what you’re up to, there’s no critics to paint as unpatriotic.  Problem solved.

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Category: American Culture, Communication, Iraq, Military, Politics, Psychology Cognition, The Middle East, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Cleptomanx says:

    Well, I can't think of a single thing in this post to argue with. Although, I would like to point out that these statements, the same that they were back a couple of years ago, are now much more bold and loudly championed. Such outcry was but a whisper when it truly mattered.

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