October 15th, 2005

Sword

He doesn't speak for all Republicans...

This post was inspired by Lazlo, a local FM jock here in KC. Go read his writing, it's brilliant. In one post, he brings up that we should make W comment on Eisenhower's "Cross of Iron" speech.
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I read that and wonder what happened. When did we become the Soviet Union? When did we become a threat to all countries with the temerity to disagree with us in public. Not attack us, not wage war upon us. But to simply say "I think you're wrong". When did that become a threatening action?

The answer of course, is obvious...September 11th, 2001.

For a brief moment after the attacks, I thought we would rise to the occasion and show that while we would never forgive, nor allow to go unpunished such an attack upon us, that we were not vindictive, that we would not use this as an excuse for empire-building.

I was wrong, but how wrong...I could not have imagined the degree.

We went from a beacon of hope, from a light on the hill to a schoolyard bully, lashing out against all who would question our motives and actions. We went from a thoughtful nation, for whom force was a last resort, to be applied both thoroughly and sparingly, and never without thought to when we could cease its use, to a scared, fearful nation, who rushes into combat without sound tactics or thought to when we will be able to cease the use of arms.

We unlearned every lesson that made Desert Storm work, that you respect your enemy, that you use overwhelming force, that you assume they will fight you with every weapon at their disposal, with every trick in the book. Instead, we assumed that the Iraqi forces would meet us head on in the field of battle, where our superior weaponry would make short work of them. We assumed that because they were lead by an insane dictator that they were stupid as well.

We forgot the lessons of the Viet Cong, we forgot the lessons of our own American Revolution. We repeated the same mentality of the British in the Revolutionary war, we repeated the mentality of our own defeat in Vietnam. We forgot that small and poorly armed is not the same as easily defeated. We forgot the patience that is the best weapon of a guerilla army. The Iraqi insurgents can wait lifetimes, and fight for lifetimes. The success of this tactic is proven, and known to all. We assumed that they were stupid and weak-willed. We are paying for that mistake.

But worse, worst of all, is what we as a people became. We allowed fear to guide our actions. We replaced Patriotism with Nationalism. Samuel Adams is surely weeping for what we have become, as must be Franklin, Madison, Jefferson, and the rest. We made questioning the government tantamount to aiding and abetting terrorism. John Ashcroft, former Attorney General said that, on the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor:

To those who scare peace loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics aid terrorists for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies and pause to America’s friends

Compare that with the words of Benjamin Franklin from 1759:

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

or Theodore Roosevelt's comment after Woodrow Wilson cracked down on dissent when we were in WWI:

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

Or Teddy's editorial in the Kansas City Star during that same time:

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.

Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."


Note that none of these men were pie-eyed liberals. All fought in war. With the exception of Franklin, all saw combat. All were Republicans, (even Teddy, at least for a while). Eisenhower lead the US through WWII as the SAC of Allied forces in Europe, and as President during most of Korea. During WWII, Ike made decisions that lead to the deaths of thousands. His every mistake, and every success was paid for in the blood of thousands of Americans, British, and countless other nationalities. Ike, perhaps more than any president since, knew what war was. He knew the costs that conflict imposed, at all levels.

Read this part again:

The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealthand the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms in not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.


That is what this administration has done since 09/11/2001. It has used fear to hang us from a Cross of Iron. It has robbed the weakest of its people to further the aims of the strongest. It has tried, and nearly succeeded, to deny us even the right to demand that those in power be accountable to those who put them there. It has demonized those with the worst ability to defend themselves to create more fear so that they can take away still more of our rights.

How many poor people no longer have medical insurance so that we can build space lasers and missile interceptors that would not have stopped 9/11 anyway? What good is Star Wars against a truck full of fertilizer and dynamite parked next to a federal building with a daycare center?

How many social programs that dealt with real, constant problems like hunger, health care, and mental health have been cut or so restricted as to be of use to no one, so that we can cut taxes, and raise military spending. I will happily give back that extra $400 that the Bush tax cuts gave me, if it means that a family working multiple jobs never has to choose between insurance and food ever again.

How many homeless people could we have housed with the billions spent on the war in Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 beyond cheering? Most of them? All of them?

Ike was talking about the Soviet Union in first eight years after the end of WWII.

Sadly, he could be talking about the USA in the first 5 years after 9/11.

We used to be a country of hope. Now we let fear rule our days.

Ike, I'm sorry. I'm glad you're not here for this.
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