Shamelessly stolen from Nitpicker. For those who don’t know, Terry was a soldier in Afghanistan, where he organized a drive for people to send pens to Afghan kids. He wrote this in response to Barack Obama’s apology for saying lives have been wasted in Iraq, but it’s apt after John McCain sort of apologized for saying the same thing:
A closer look, however, reveals that Malkin’s childish fuming is just another version of Bush’s spin point: That only by “winning” the war in Iraq can we “honor” the service members already killed in his war.
When you consider this logical result of this construct, though, Bush and Malkin are saying that those soldiers deaths–and, by extension, their service and lives–only have meaning if the war is just and finished properly. As Malkin’s anti-Catholic little buddy Allahpundit tried to spin it, those of us who oppose the war all think that soldiers lives are being wasted, but we “can’t say that because it dishonors the dead so they’re forced into rhetorical pretzels…”
I have tried to write this post several times, but it usually devolves into the sort of cursing rant which might make it easy for some to dismiss my point, but I want to be very clear here. Malkin and her followers–and, even more importantly, anyone who might think about taking them seriously–must be led to understand something important:
Nothing I can do or say can add or subtract one iota from the honor a service member has earned. Nothing Michelle Malkin, George W. Bush or the entire Fox News staff does or says can add or subtract one iota from the honor (or even dishonor, in rare cases) a service member has earned. The Iraq War does not provide the life of a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine with meaning. The Iraq War does not instill meaning in service. Those who have served know that, foolish war or just, honorable service is a meaning unto itself and has a value independent of context.
In other words, soldiers don’t need your fucking war to give their lives or service meaning. Those in uniform who both support and oppose the war have earned their honor with their own two hands. Their lives have an inherent value that cannot be affected by right wing bloggers or even failed presidents.
Think of the money in your wallet right now. Despite the value it represents, it can be wasted. Or think in economic terms of the true opportunity cost of each soldier’s life: The birthday parties of children; the creativity and drive that might have found flower in our culture; the soulmate lucky enough to end her days on this earth in the arms of a loved one. This is a high cost that, no matter the outcome of this war, cannot be won back. I have worn the uniforms of two services. My father and his brothers fought in Vietnam. My grandfather’s ship lobbed some of the 165,000 shells which helped liberate Saipan. And, if my great aunt’s research is correct, a relative of mine received his pay in the infirmary of George Washington’s Valley Forge encampment. I am no pacifist. I understand that there are times when the value of what might be earned could outweigh the cost of a few thousand American lives–or, even, a few hundred thousand lives.
But the lives we have lost in Iraq were lost due to the fever dreams of ideologues, who ignored all historical precedent in both proposing and planning their war. Every rationale for war has proven either false or foolish and the results pyrrhic, at best. We are less respected, less revered and, yes, less feared than before we began it. Our own intelligence agencies think that the war is actually creating more terrorists with even less central command and, while you argue that “we weren’t in Iraq on 9/11,” it’s clear to anyone with the eyes to see that, in the words of Don Rumsfeld, “the harder we work, the behinder we get.” Even some of your most erudite of conservative intellectuals (a near oxymoron these days) and mindless, partisan hacks have admitted the war was a mistake, closing a gap of years between them and the American public.
It is not dishonoring the troops to point out–as I do now, flatly–that their lives are being wasted in Bush’s ridiculous, pointless and, ultimately, futile adventure. It is simply the truth and does not reflect on their service, but rather on the fact that the loss of their lives has gained us less than nothing. We must leave Iraq. Most Americans and even most soldiers believe that.
Malkin and her supporters to proverbially patting soldiers on the head and saying, “Everything will be all right soon, don’t worry, it’s going to get better,” isn’t the same as supporting the troops. It’s patronizing the troops. It’s infantilizing the troops. It’s insulting the troops. And, if there are Americans blinkered enough to look at this debacle of a war and still believe the ridiculousness of Malkin and her minions, thereby lending support to those who would send more soldiers into Iraq’s grinding machinery, it might even be killing the troops.