Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Well, I have absolutely no time for blogging today, between spending all day in JP1 and then Crack practice. Instead of my usual ranting, however, I am publishing an email rant which was sent to me by my former roommate and lifelong friend, Lee Thweatt. Lee is a father of three, husband, lawyer, and former JAG officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Lee is a really good guy, and he is a an observant fan and critic of both the American political machine and the U.S. military. Heed his words carefully. If he wasn't living in the reddest state in the union, this guy might already be governor...

So without his permission, either explicit or implied, I give you the words of Lee Thweatt:

I would ask each of you to listen to the President and give pause before you have the temerity to ask whether or not the President or his administration played fast and loose with pre-war intelligence. In the name of civility and patriotism, refrain from participating in your right of free expression or your right to petition the government for redress on these unimportant matters. If you do not, by the President's express logic, you are betraying the troops fighting abroad and you are aiding and abetting the enemy's will, if not the enemy themselves. Instead, the proper measure is to remain mute. If you must act out, then do so appropriately by placing a yellow ribboned "support our troops" magnet on your SUV to demonstrate whose side it is, precisely, that you are on. After all, the war on terror permits no equivocation. Remember that you are either with us or against us. The President is asking the American people to trust him on this issue. That's fine. He is after all, the President of the United States and ought to be afforded some measure of credibility by the sheer magnitude position he holds. Putting aside whether there are legitimate reasons to question the President on this issue (e.g. the absence of any located weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Colin Powell's near total abandonment of the speech he gave to the U.N., Scooter Libby's recent indictment, the more than $300 billion and counting spent on the war thus far, etc.), the President should remember that trust is two-way street. While he has every right to defend his actions and to do so vigorously, it moves from the defensive well into the deeply offensive to cast aspersion on the motives and integrity of the American people who question him. None of the President's critics wish to see even one more young American die or be harmed in Iraq. The feeling is identical I'm sure for the President's supporters. The fact of the matter is, however, that Americans, along with a whole host of others, are dying right now in Iraq. Some will be hurt of killed today. It is undisputed that nearly all of America's troops would undertake their duties in Iraq for as long as it takes or anywhere else for that matter if the President ordered them to do so. That is the nature of their jobs. For the most part, they wouldn't complain about it, or if they did, it wouldn't be anything more than quiet grumblings among themselves in the squad bays or chow halls. Under no circumstances would any of them refuse their duty--none that I ever knew at least. That loyalty and devotion is precisely why the greatest of care and consideration is demanded from any President, and indeed, any military leader, from a four-star general down to a corporal. These folks will do as they are ordered to do, and they will do so instantly, without hesitation or questioning pursuant to their training and the chain of command the President himself overlooks. So you'd better be right and play it straight with them and their families in the formation of orders they are under a legal obligation to follow. The President, above all others, should realize that you have to be very careful issuing orders to people who will follow them: if you are not, your troops will get hurt or killed. I'm not talking about death in the general sense that everyone dies eventually. That is far too distant and obtuse to have any real signficance. I'm talking about in the sense that someone's son, father, husband, brother or sister will cease to live because a sniper's bullet rips their carotid artery or an IED shears off their legs from their torso while they are thousands of miles away from their home. Compounding the death is this undeniable fact: given the makeup of the military, the likelihood is that they will die from any ill-considered orders at a very young age, leaving much ahead of them and world of pain behind. So it is a damned important job to lead soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and to do so with integrity. It is too much then, far too much, for a President to demand that citizens or opposition voices refrain from questioning him under the guise that doing so does violence to the lives, efforts, and memories of those serving in the military. The President has it exactly wrong and has made his large misjudgment in a small and petty manner unbecoming of his considerable position. There has been enough time in this administration for the sycophants. Perhaps that is one of the reasons the President is in this mess at all. It is the failure to question, the complicity and complacency of those who might have, and might still, otherwise remind the President of his solemn duty to lead without misleading which does violence to their memories and their ineffable heroism. Vote how you want, and support whomever you desire. That is the very essence of America. Do not, however, under any circumstances sit idly by and let any elected official in this country, particularly the President of the United States, get away with a personally attacking the loyalty and devotion of the American people when they have sacrificed their sons, their husbands, their daughters and their families for a policy of premption they neither created nor asked to install.

Semper Fidelis,


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