Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Popular Opinion....

Being in Iraq, it's hard to get a feel for things at home sometimes, the attitudes and ideas of those many we left behind when went to fight. Sure, we get the news outlets, and of course we know everyone wants the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airman they know and love home. What we don’t get, though, is to see the debate rage everyday. It's not forced constantly into our line of sight by the media, or by popular culture promoting the "can't we all just get along" mentality. Our focus isn't colored by the hourly death tolls, the news of one more 'American Hero' killed, which is always followed by ( trumpets blaring!) The Great Debate of Our Time..... "why are our sons and daughters being sent to their slaughter by a corrupt, greedy, selfish government?", or so it goes. Well people, let me tell you, you’re being manipulated and lied to, and here is why.

I came home on recently on leave, and since the day I arrived I have been met an outpouring of support from almost everyone I have met. Usually this support is followed by a blessing to come home soon, which inevitably leads into the quagmire of why we’re there. But see, there's the rub! Sure, I miss my wife and my family, and sleeping in my own bed would be great, but that’s not what I volunteered for. It's not what any soldier volunteered for, and believe me, we all did volunteer (read the fine print). What many people can't see, with no help from the media mind you, is the good that has been and is being done in Iraq and other places where the US military does not fear to tread. The American Public demonizes these places and people, because it makes it far easier to accept that some evil took their sons and daughters, and we should cut our losses on a lost cause. Well, I can't do that. I see these 'evil' people everyday. I see what they have been through, what they strive for, and I will not be the one to tell them "sorry, no one said I would be in danger, got to go now, thanks". Being a soldier is a dangerous business, I knew that coming in. We do what many can't, or won't, do. They should have found another line of work.

For the people who think we are going about this all wrong, "invading" other people's homelands, killings thousands of peolple to further our agenda, that's not realistic at all. That's not what we do and the world would not stand by and bear it. I ask what have you done, though? Have you found another way? Do you know what it is that we are actually doing, or do you believe everything the media tells you? It's it a wonderful privilege to stand up and voice your opinions and philosophies, and not one that every human being has mind you. Thats why it is a privilege that must be earned, through our actions and dedication. Now this doesn't mean run off and join the military, that's not understandably not for everyone. Activism takes many forms though, and sorry, but watching and regurgitating Fox News and MSNBC does not count. Bill O'Reilly is NOT a force for change. Most times he's not even accurate.

(By the way, though this rant may sound like I do, I don't agree with him and I am not a fan. He is one thing that is wrong with the media, in that he doesn't take an objective, or even factual, view on anything. Regardless whether your Liberal or Conservative, you have to look at things without exageration from a central viewpoint, without letting mass-idealogy to cloud your judgement.)

Myabe goups Unicef, Human Rights Watch, The Red Cross/Crescent, and Amnesty International aren't really your thing, right. Isn't enough to have an opinion of things outside your daily lives? You bet it is, but know what your talking abut first, and help with a solution. It is very easy to denounce actions or pass judgment on events you have no part of. Watching from the sidelines is not enough. Mistakes are made in every human endeavor. You support freedom and democracy and chance at real freedom for everyone, as long as you don't have to sacrifice for it. Well, we are all connected; politically, economically, socially, globally. If your neighbor’s house is on fire, do you ignore it? You better do something, or yours will catch fire too.

We need to be here, period. So maybe there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction. Does it make what we did here any less important? No nation can stay a secular entity forever. Japan and Commodore Perry proved that fact on 31 March, 1854. It's not being world police; it's not imposing our ideology on everyone else. The Iraqi people were being kept under a brutal dictatorship being run by the political minority. He had delusions of grandeur that he could be a world leader. After an eight year war with Iran, which he "won" politically because Iran had other problems and had to back out, Saddam invaded Kuwait under the pretense of an oil rights dispute. This was a thinly veiled attempt at power mongering, picking on someone smaller than you because you can't stand up to the big guys. This alone proves that Saddam was never content to stay within his own borders, and would inevitably become an increasing problem had we not take action. Don't believe he was truly a bad guy?

Growing up in the 'Nineties, all I heard was how the world was becoming a 'global community', how everything that happens one place affects everywhere else to some degree. This is a fundamental truth of the world now more than ever. We as a nation cannot turn a blind eye to the rest of the world. We cannot afford to, not matter the cost. But that’s what we seem to want to do. Even more so, it would be flat out wrong to ignore the abject suffering of people around the world simply to remain safe in an increasingly violent world. We didn't start these conflicts. Even in Iraq, Saddam Hussein's history of reckless leadership and bloody violence predates any involvement we had in that country by a long shot. Although not always the most peaceful government system, the suffering and tragedy that Iraq has dealt with for almost thirty years is a direct result of Saddam's rule. We owe everything we have in this country to ourselves because we have always been strong, always been fighters. This is not to assume there is no place for diplomatic solutions, as that should always be the first option explored in any conflict. Unfortunately though, in many place in the world, diplomacy is still exercised at the end of gun, with or without our involvement. And it’s the defenseless who suffer. If we have the chance to help stop that, by force if necessary, shouldn’t we do whatever we can?


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