An Apology

No, it’s not what you think.

Think, instead, about a defense.

I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Billmon. He mentioned that he had read an article by Dr. David Hilfiker, of the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT). So why is this interesting, and why am I telling you about it?

Because Dr. Hilfiker visited my unit here in Balad, in a quest to see how Coalition Forces were treating detainees. His group, CPT, is one of many human rights groups that have opened up shop here in Iraq since the war began.

I’m not going to talk about CPT’s visit, or what happened. That’s not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is to talk about me.

I wrote Billmon with my account (however removed), of what happened. He posted my email to him on his blog, and the gates were opened. His commenters, for the most part, are a civil lot (unlike the guys who patrol, say, Little Green Footballs or Free Republic). Bit by bit, a pattern emerged:

1. There’s no way an Army NCO wrote that email; it’s too literate.
2. A guy who wrote that must be in PsyOps.
3. There’s no way the guy is a leftie; he must be a troll for the CIA/NSA/the Gnomes of Zurich

Well, you get the visual. Those of you in the comment thread who stood up for my, well, erudition, I thank you.

I’m not in PsyOps. I’m not in Army Intel. I’m not with the CIA/NSA, and I haven’t spoken with the The Man recently. (Kidding. I was kidding. I haven’t spoken with The Man at all. Swear.)

Look, I am who I am. I’m a soldier. I choose to post anonymously because there’s a long tradition of being apolitical in the Armed Forces, and my opinions (which I post here) are political. So I choose not to mix the two. Believe me, it’s better that way. You don’t want a political military.

I am, if anything, an RFK/JFK liberal. I’m fiscally conservative, socially liberal. I happen to think America’s a pretty nifty country, and I base my opinion on having lived and visited several other countries. I believe in a strong defense, and I’m proud to be a soldier. I happen to think that America belongs to us, just as much as it belongs to those who would cynically wrap themselves in red, white and blue. I’m not going to apologize for any of that.

I happen to believe that the Perfect is the enemy of the Good. There is a disturbing tendency, among my lefty friends, to exalt the perfect, and demonize the good, which only serves to have us wind up with the bad.

I’d like to ask my lefty friends: whose foreign policy should America emulate? Britains’? France’s? China’s? Germany’s? Russia’s? Whose? And why? Do we think that any of those countries, based on past performance, would have done any better than America in Iraq? And if so, why?

Do we really think that America is such a sinister country? If so, then what is it in comparison to? Canada? Australia? Gabon? Please tell me. I’d like to know.

I know some of you will read this, and answer the questions by listing all the many bad things that America has done. Fine. That’s your prerogative. But for every bad thing that America has done, I can think of things just as heinous that other countries have done. Canada, with its treatment of the Inuits. Australia & New Zealand, with the Aborigines and Maoris. Britain. France. Germany. On down the line.

Others will read this and remain convinced that I am but a tool of The Man’s, sent to sow fear, doubt and uncertainty among the righteous few. Again, fine. That’s your prerogative.

I hope that some of you, however, will read this, and decide that I am what I say I am, and choose to join with me. Choose to rise up with me, as we labor together to make this a better country than what it is today. We are America, all of us. We were great once; can we not be great again? We cannot be, if we are divided. We choose to unite because we love America, and the idea of her.

I am proud to serve, not a political agenda, but a great nation. I want to continue to serve. Help me serve.


5 responses to “An Apology

  1. “I’d like to ask my lefty friends: whose foreign policy should America emulate? Britains’? France’s? China’s? Germany’s? Russia’s? Whose? And why? Do we think that any of those countries, based on past performance, would have done any better than America in Iraq? And if so, why?”

    Perfect. You set up a straw man and then strike it down.

    Who said one has to emulate another country’s policy to be better than what the current state is?

    There are alternatives to the myopic path of tough love. The immediate term may present cowering Iraqis who fall in line. What do you think they will do the first chance they have to undermine you without adverse consequences for themselves. This is not a policy that can build stability in the long term.

    The alternative to current American policy is not another country’s – it’s what the better elements of America have been clamoring for – non-military engagement, not bludgeoning innocents and hiding behind the veil of “collateral damage”.

  2. Lest you think I didn’t read your statement about the Perfect versus the Good, I did. It holds no water in my book, however, for it is the Perfect that we should strive towards, not settle for the Good. Otherwise we may as well accept the world as it is now, making no effort to improve it, for who is to say that it is not Good already.

  3. I still think you troll. I can’t explain (or won’t) but think of it as a visceral reaction to the lack, whatsoever, of your former prosestyle here — which was after all what lit the fire of any flak you took at Whiskey Bar. Reading this ‘blog’ now is like talking to two separate people dressed in the same attire. But, I had no disatisfaction with your analysis of the situation (admittedly one I have a sum zero knowledge of, and less interest). What was more interesting was the discussion /comments it evoked. Anyway, take care of yourself –wherever you are– and have a safe and happy landing.

    God Bless all Our Soldiers!
    (me: lacking any religeous affiliation)

  4. I’m puzzled by the hostility toward you, obviously a thoughtful, moral person.

    I may agree with your critics that the dynamics of occupation preclude a happy ending to all this, but I admire and sympathize with the people there in that awful situation, trying to do the right thing.

  5. I’m not concerned with how are foreign policy compares to other countries. I’m concerned with our government having a foreign policy that makes sense for America. And for the life of me I can’t see how team Bush’s foreign policy makes sense for America. At best it seems ill advised and naive. At worst, it is ideologically driven and decisions are made without regard to the facts. In reality it’s probably a mixture of both.

    Team Bush hyped up intelligence that supported its march to war, and downplayed intel that made the case for war weak. That much seems clear. The Bushies formed their own intel agency precisely because they were not getting what they wanted from the CIA vis a vis Iraq.

    Now they seek to blame the CIA while at the same time praising the agency up and down. The press pretends not to notice the cognitive dissonance of such doublespeak. In essence, what we are watching is team Bush dancing on a razor’s edge of shifting the blame to the CIA while trying not to ruffle so many feathers that the CIA says “hey, wait a minute!”

    Saddam was a bad guy, true enough. So should we all echo Bush and say “what’s the difference?” The answer is no, for many reasons.

    Iraq will become a pro US democracy creating a domino effect in the ME? This is the most misguided and myopic idea floated by Bush’s foreign policy team. What we have predictably created is a larger ME mess. What else should we have expected? If Islamic fundementalist were to overwhelm this country with force, would Americans be persuaded to renounce democracy for theocracy? Hardly, although plenty of the christian right would probably join in the effort.

    Iraqi’s are better off? Perhaps, at least someday, and then only marginally. But in this time and place, is that where are priorities should be? With our military stretched thin, budgets deficits as far as the eye can see, and real threats to deal with, can we afford to waste our blood and treasure on righting human rights atrocities that happened more than a decade ago? No, of course not, which is why team Bush did not argue its case based on humanitarian nation building in the run up to the war.

    Our credibiliy, throughout the globe, has been shattered, and the doctrine of pre-emption is dead after its first turn at bat.

    In short what we have is a ill advised, myopic, ideologically driven FP policy that has been foisted upon the American public backed by lies. And as my daddy always used to tell me, when people lie it’s a sure sign that they know the truth wouldn’t get them what they wanted.