Monday, March 17, 2003

Quote Of The War

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots. [Thomas Jefferson]

I am hereby coming out reluctantly and only marginally in favor of war, mostly because I believe the Iraqi people cannot even ask us for the help they want of us.

And because the anti-war camp has, as I tried to explain to Virginia this evening, not been practicing peace, especially ANSWER, primary organizer of the protests and avidly anti-Israel, as well as avidly interested in bludgeoning us with strong-arm, manipulative tactics to garner support for their cause.

And because I am scared for my daughter. I decided tonight, listening to Bush and, after him, Howard Zinn on PBS, that I would go to Iraq today, stand in the desert, bare myself to gunfire from reluctant gun-toting men, be a soldier if it would keep my daughter and her world safe.

Heinlein, in Starship Troopers, says that the moral difference between the soldier and the civilian lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not.

I stand resolved. The body politic, which I define not as a nation or country, but as a free world, doesn't feel safe, not from inside. I'm ready to sacrifice my own life, if I have to, to make it so, and I must believe that humanity, on the whole, feels the same way, Iraqi and American, no matter the nationality. I must believe, in other words, that we are all willing to die, if we need to, so that the children of all our races can live in harmony when the dust has settled. I've lived long enough and cannot live in protesting paranoia anymore. My daughter deserves no less.

An older, wiser head said this a different way:

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

Here's hoping the Iraqi people, God bless their souls, have read their Thomas Paine. No matter what happens in the coming days, if the Iraqis -- a people who fight in an army they don't want to be in at all, a people whose aid has been systematically usurped by Saddam for his own military paranoia -- end up free, it won't be free, and probably won't be cheap. But I remain hopeful that their lot will be better, in short term and long, after Saddam is removed. Period.

And if the Iraqis are finally free, no matter what the regime change, no matter what the cost? If they get their aid, and no longer suffer in the shadow of their despotic leader, and the rest of the world STILL thinks we were the bad guys here? In the words of atomic-bomb physicist Richard Feynman, What do you care what other people think? It's enough to do the right thing. And no matter what you think about haste or waste, war or peace, I think freeing an entire people is always the right thing.

Preemptively, yes, I do understand the reasons why many of my readers and peers are opposed to this war, and why less but not none are opposed to all armed conflict. I've missed nothing. I understand the issues. I am mostly still on the fence. But I am for freedom, and as long as one Iraqi is not free, my heart is not free. And as long as my daughter and I live in fear, we are not at peace. If there is a way to hasten peace, then, reluctantly, I am beginning to be for it.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:06 PM |

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