Howard Kurtz mentions today in his Media Notes
column at the Washington Post, "An interesting letter from a soldier in Fallujah, Anthony Ippoliti, to his hometown paper, the Ridgefield, Conn., Times (via Andrew Sullivan):"
How can these groups claim to support our troops while telling us that what we are participating in is wrong? How can they support us if they are essentially saying that our blood and sacrifices have all been given in vain? How can they support us if they say that our comrades and brothers who have been wounded or killed in action have done so for a hopeless and morally questionable cause? . . .
I'll field that one.
Let me start with Ann Coulter, actually. On the Today show this morning, she said some stupid, inflammatory things to sell her book. She said 911 widows were "using their grief in order to make a political point while preventing anyone from responding. . . . I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." Which is an evil, stupid thing to say. That being said, the first part of her remark, that liberal spokespersons like Cindy Sheehan and the 9/11 widows make for unfair debate partners (criticize their views and you will be called evil and stupid -- see above) is legitimate. She's put at an immediate disadvantage by having to debate a grieving mother.
I only mention this as preface to disagreeing with a presumably brave, self-sacrificing soldier who's done more for his country than I have. So, now that the niceties are out of the way, let's zoom back to Mr. Ippolitti's point ('how can you say you support the troops while also saying the war is more or less pointless')....
First, what a specious, stupid, unhelpful point to make. And honestly, what a useless piece of hot air. One has nothing to do with the other. I support the troops so much that I'd rather they weren't fighting and dying in this war. I questioned the rationale (or questioned for
a rationale) long before the war started. Those questions were legitimate, and liberals were mocked for asking them. The war began, and it became clear that WMD inspectors should've been allowed to stay, that the administration indeed pulled them out so they would not be able to finish and conclusively declare that there are no usable munitions or weapons programs in Iraq. You called us crackpots. We were correct. We said the administration had tossed the State Department's post-war plan in the trash. You said 'so what.' Iraq has cost us a century of good will, and the saddest part is that we cannot yet leave.
Further, and apart from the straw liberals you imagine, I think the affairs of Iraq's people, suffering though they may be, are no more our business than our problems are theirs. Saddam tortures his own people? I feel badly for their circumstance, but I would not risk any American blood or treasure to help them. We've just been attacked. We have our own problems.
If we're concerned about WMD, we should focus on accounting for Russia's deteriorating and unguarded stockpiles. If terrorism is the problem, we should work to raise up the poorest and most hopeless parts of the world. If we're interested in stabilizing the Middle East, overthrowing a bad government and replacing it with no government is not a good start. (This is all slow, tedious work which makes for poor campaign advertisements, but it is what's necessary if these are our aims.)
There will not be Jeffersonian democracy in Iraq. Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds are separate populations united only by a British colonizer's relatively new and certainly arbitrary geographic border. Their territories are oddly arranged, and access to oil wealth is not equally distributed between them. There are external parties with competing interests on all borders, including Iran, Turkey, Russia, old Europe, and the USA. There is an infrastructure for the delivery of electricity, and of water, food, and medicine, which has been shorn to bits by poor governance and, wait for it, an ugly war. Anyone who wants to send another busload of our brightest, strongest, most idealistic 19 year-old nephews and neighbors to help the Iraqis sort this out needs to first explain what for, and how.
Mr. Ippoliti is braver than me, and has put his neck on the line for what he thinks are America's best interests. He's been misled, and I agree that is sad. But we are all adults, and sad is no reason for me to lie. Or for him to act like an angry fool.