Editorial / The Cap Times – 2011-05-30 23:01:28
WASHINGTON, DC (May 30, 2011) — It is unfortunate but true that this Memorial Day — when we pause to honor those Americans who have fought the good fights against British colonialism, the sin of slavery and the menace of fascism — is marred by the painful reality that US troops are currently bogged down in a lingering mess of George Bush’s creation in Iraq and a quagmire of George Bush’s creation in Afghanistan.
Appallingly, Barack Obama has maintained these undeclared wars of occupation. And he has now steered the United States into another fight with Libya.
The soldiers involved in these fights are good men and women. But these are not good fights. Nor are they necessary fights for the US military.
There are arguments to be made, some of them sound, some of them not, that people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have reasons to be fighting. But the fights are their own — not America’s.
The cynicism of the previous administration, which was led by a president whose family pulled strings to keep him out of the Vietnam War and a vice president who dodged the draft five times during that conflict, was beyond contempt. But so too is the cynicism of many Democrats, who, despite their disdain for the failed foreign policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney, continue to echo the empty rhetoric of the administration when it comes to the debate about how best to end the war.
The best way to “support the troops” who have been placed in harmâ€™s way in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya is to bring them home.
Congress considered the prospect last week and more than 200 members of the House voted for a proposal to begin taking steps to exit Afghanistan. Unfortunately, a few more members opposed that necessary step.
The growing opposition to the misguided mission in Afghanistan, as well as the clear opposition to any expansion of the Libya mission, is encouraging.
America is growing weary of endless war.
Wars of whim, fought without congressional authorization and without exit strategies, are not fights for democracy.
Fights for democracy can only be considered successful when American democracy is open and vibrant enough to allow for a realistic discussion of the nation’s circumstance. Those “my-country-right-or-wrong” politicians and pundits who would shut down dissent on Memorial Day, or any other day, make a mockery of the oath to defend the US Constitution, which protects the right to speak truth to power and to assemble for the purpose of petitioning for the redress of grievances.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Vietnam War-era counsel to Americans holds true this Memorial Day. Americans who love their country and its promise must move beyond “the prophesying of smooth patriotism” toward “a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history.”
No honest reading of the history of America’s founding, or of recent events, can lead to a conclusion that the current wars of whim are justified.
Americans have fought and died in pursuit of noble and necessary causes. It is right to celebrate their memory. But is right, as well, to recognize that not all wars are noble and necessary. And when a war is not justified, it is time to honor the troops by bringing them home.
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