Friday, August 19, 2005

I Just Can't Leave Mrs. Sheehan's Issues Without Comment

I need to say a few words about Mrs. Sheehan wanting to meet with the President. I know I shouldn't, but I need to so I can let it go.
I've always felt that ad hominum arguments are really a pretty crummy basis for making policy decisions. My personal axe to grind is with the California mother who, unable to convince her son to wear his helmet before he killed himself, wept a motorcycle helmet law onto the books a few years ago. (I see you people in your shorts and shower shoes wearing a full-face helmet.)
I can empathize with Cindy Sheehan. I would only point out here that for every parent who has lost a child and wants to bring the rest of the troops home there is another parent who wants to "complete the mission" so that their child will not have "died in vain." Mrs. Sheehan does not speak for all Gold Star mothers.
My experience has been that the same thing holds true among the troops. There are guys who volunteer for back-to-back combat tours... regardless of the conflict... and there are guys who can't wait to get back to the world... and there are, of course, guys who want to "complete the mission" so that their buddies will not have "died in vain."
For the record, and in my humble opinion, the guy who made it back from Iraq to be killed in a drive-by shooting in Pomona died in vain. Dying in the honorable service of one's country is not in vain. Whether the war amounts to a hill of beans in the long run or not has nothing to do with it.
I've said before that I believe we have an ongoing responsibility to the Iraqis whose country we've smashed to pieces. That doesn't make the war right. That's just accepting responsibility for what we've done. We've made Iraq a breeding ground for terrorism and insurrection, and we ought to do what can be done to leave them in some semblance of stability.
Having said all that, I think Mr. Bush should meet with Mrs. Sheehan. I think he should spend five weeks (wasn't his vacation five weeks?) spending a day apiece in their home with a family that has lost a loved one or had a loved one come home with a catastrophic injury. I think he needs to bear a little of the consequences of his war.
There's nothing to be done now about the 1800 American lives that did not need to be lost in Iraq. The only thing to be done now is to mitigate the damage we've done as much as possible and withdraw, but we must do what we can to mitigate the damage.


Anonymous Ronni Bennett said...

While I think the president is a churl for not meeting with Mrs. Sheehan, and while I believe the U.S. should never have gone into Iraq, and I sympathize will all the parents/families of the dead and maimed soldiers, I haven't been able to put my finger on why Mrs. Sheehan bothers me.

I don't think it is that other gold star families and other soldiers feel differently about the war, but I appreciate these new thoughts to ruminate on while I try to figure it out.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Died in vain?..hard to beyond a reasonable doubt. Is there a mission that can be completed? I don't think so. to 'die in vain' in the past or future?

11:08 PM  
Blogger Clint Carrens said...

I also wavered on writing something about Sheehan, but I eventually did. I don't agree with her on many things, especially not immediate troop withdrawal, but I certainly think her point of view is worth listening to. Plus, I find it shameful they way both the left and the right are exploiting her.

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Winston said...

A strong statement indeed coming from a former military man. I agree almost 100% with everything you said, but one item keeps nagging at me. Being an engineer and not a political or military strategist, I really need help on this one.

Yes we have destroyed a country and have an obligation to make it at least as good as it was before we arrived. Yes we opened the borders and doors for any terrorist group to just waltz in and raise hell. It has been duly noted that as bad as he was, as much as he needed to go, Saddam Hussein did not allow terrorists into his country. He knew how to keep them out. Why can't we?

We need to end the war and get our troops out of Iraq, but how do we do that AND fulfill our re-building obligation WHILE the terrorists we allowed into Iraq are doing what terrorists do? Is there a way out of this mess that reduces the death count, lets us rebuild, and restores some level of peace and safety in Iraq? Help me...

8:45 AM  

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