Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Asking the Troops on the Ground

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The war-supporting right is so dishonest and disingenuous. It never, ever fails. Here is Patrick Ruffini, defending the legitimacy of support for the Iraq war coming from people who have never served in the military, by pointing to an appeal to Congress from almost 3,000 active-duty soldiers who oppose any withdrawal, or timeline for withdrawal, of U.S. troops:

When we launched We Win, They Lose last week (now closing in on 10,000 signatures), the usual suspects came out of the woodwork with the "chickenhawk" canard.

They're not likely to do the same with, a coalition of nearly 3,000 active duty and reserve personnel petitioning Congress not to surrender. That's right, I said, active duty, so even veterans of past wars don't qualify to sign. And a majority have served in the Iraq theater.

As has been pointed out time and time again, the idea that only those who serve or who've served are qualified to comment on matters of war and peace is ridiculous on its face. (Actually, they usually stack the deck like this: only if you've served can you support a war, but anyone, regardless of past service, is qualified to oppose a war.) Last I checked, we do not have a military government and we do have a First Amendment. It's curious to see the left at cross-purposes with these two very basic tenets of Constitutional government.

But the case that seldom gets made is this. If we did follow the Kossacks' advice and let only interested parties decide our Iraq policy (service personnel and their families), the decision would be clear and it would be for victory. Want to know once and for all if the mission is worth it? Just ask the troops on the ground.

Be careful when you invoke Absolute Moral Authority (tm). You might not like the answers you get.

What Patrick Ruffini does not mention is that almost 2,000 active duty, reserve, and National Guard service members have signed an Appeal for Redress to Congress. That petition was submitted to Congress back in January. The appeal reads as follows:

As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.

To date, 2,843 active duty military personnel have signed the Appeal for Courage; 1,929 active duty, reserve, and guard members have signed the Appeal for Redress.

Moreover, An Appeal for Redress is far from being the only venue for opposition to the war from those most directly affected: troops in Iraq, Iraq war veterans, and military families. Below is a partial listing of organizations specifically for military members and/or their families, which actively support bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq:

Military Families Speak Out [my emphasis]: "[A]n organization of people opposed to the war in Iraq who have relatives or loved ones currently in the military or who have served in the military since the buildup to the Iraq war in fall of 2002. Our membership currently includes over 3,400 military families, with new families joining daily."

Gold Star Families for Peace: This is the group Cindy Sheehan co-founded; it is specifically for families of men and women who have died in Iraq since the war started. GSFP has close to 100 family members.

Iraq Veterans Against the War: "a national group of veterans and active-duty servicemen and women of the 'Global War on Terror' who are working to bring our brothers and sisters home now." IVAW has over 400 members all over the country.

Bring Them Home Now!: "a campaign of military families, veterans, active duty personnel, reservists and others opposed to the ongoing war in Iraq and galvanized to action by George W. Bush's inane and reckless challenge to armed Iraqis resisting occupation to 'Bring 'em on.'Our mission is to mobilize military families, veterans, and GIs themselves to demand: an end to the occupation of Iraq and other misguided military adventures; and an immediate return of all US troops to their home duty stations."

Veterans for Peace: a national organization of U.S. war veterans from many wars, including the current war in Iraq. VFP's members "... draw on our personal experiences and perspectives gained as veterans to raise public awareness of the true costs and consequences of militarism and war - and to seek peaceful, effective alternatives."

Here, again, are Patrick Ruffini's words [my emphasis]:

"If we did ... let only interested parties decide our Iraq policy (service personnel and their families), the decision would be clear and it would be for victory. Want to know once and for all if the mission is worth it? Just ask the troops on the ground."

Still want to stick to that, Patrick?

Cross-posted at Shakesville.

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