BOB KATRIN: Critics of War Getting Bum Rap
I question the logic of suggesting that critics of the war in Iraq encourage enemy aggression. Does the present crop of terrorists in the world look like they need any encouragement? I don't think so.
We are the ones who need encouragement, because they appear to have the edge, and we don't know what to do about it after we foolishly invaded Iraq without a plan, sufficient intelligence or common sense. What half-decent military historian could not have told us that we would soon be embroiled in another guerrilla-style war that humbles conventional armies?
Look at what just happened to Israel. Conventional armies of established powers cannot cope with insurgencies from the countries they are fighting in without winning the hearts and minds of the people or occupying the country for years to establish strong government.
It's not, as J.C. Zumwalt said in his Aug. 25 column, that critics are encouraging the enemy, but -- rightly -- that they are weakening the American people's resolve to continue what one recent writer of a new major book on the Iraq war calls a "fiasco." It's obvious we don't belong there anymore and we know it, although what to do about it is the sticking point.
Israel has no choice. Terrorists have been attacking it since it was created, and its smack-dab in the middle of terrorist central, and we don't know how to help them anymore. We can sell them all the conventional weapons and planes in the world and it won't make any difference. They will have to virtually destroy the country they invade, as they were doing in Lebanon, to have even a minor effect on Hezbollah -- which emerged as the hero to many Lebanese after Israel's destructive assault.
It makes less sense to cut and run from our friends like Israel than our enemies, and the horrible truth is that when we leave Iraq the situation in the world will be worse because of our impatient use of military power as political clout. But this is not new. War has always had a political aspect to it, and countries like Iran, like it or not, know this.
On one hand, writers like Mr. Zumwalt go out of their way to recognize our right to protest and speak out against the war, and I admire his equanimity on this very difficult subject. But on the other hand, he says, like many others have already said that the critics make the situation worse.
As far as I can see, the situation couldn't be much worse. Blaming the victims of our unnecessary war, like Cindy Sheehan -- and undercutting their equality and love of country -- suggests, or says directly like Mr. Zumwalt, that they are doing a disservice to their country. This is a common theme among supporters of the war.
Treading on the ground of dissent and trying to weaken it because it gets our enemies attention is a difficult position to take. What if we admit that it does encourage them? Doesn't any adversary, from your local high school football teams to nations at war, benefit from its enemy's problems and ambivalence any time and anywhere?
Does that mean you shouldn't protest? Did we lose the war in Vietnam? Should we blame it on the protesters? Is that a bad thing -- if we lost the war and the protesters won and we cut and ran in Vietnam? It depends on your point of view.
Think of what Patrick Henry said, not as a call to arms, which it was, but also as a statement affirming our right to be passionate, steadfast and reasonable about our beliefs. All of us.
Bob Katrin is a retired Sandhills Community College instructor.
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