wNov 17, 2005

What is Patriotic?

If you immediately stop reading this post, then that's your business, but I guess I'll preface it by letting you know that nowhere in here will you find my own opinion regarding the War in Iraq (I don't think I even really know what it is any more...). Just know that it's not a simple news piece - I do raise some questions of my own. Feel free to discuss them, and preferably not the war itself, in the comments.

While the president is away in Asia, political fires have been burning here at home regarding the War in Iraq. Two days ago, the Senate passed a statement saying that 2006 should be a transition period of restoring full sovereignty to the Iraqis.
Of particulary interest (to me, anyway, and that's what matters most) is a Senator from Pennsylvania named John Murtha. Murtha is a Democrat, although he tends to side quite heavily with the military, being a veteran himself. Indeed, this senior Senator was the first Vietnam veteran elected to the United States Congress.
Mr. Murtha is upset about the current state of the war in Iraq. He feels that a change of direction is in order. "Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily." He called the war "a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion."

Some Democrats are accusing White House officials of deliberately changing information so as to garner support for the war. Dick Cheney said that Democrats accusing the White House of information manipulation was "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city." He also accused Democrats of playing politics in the middle of a war.

Murtha's rebuttal was sarcastic and sans bullshit. Steph said he talked like me. I'm inclined to agree. "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done." Is it bad for Murtha to question the government? To call an end for a war that is increasingly being compared to Vietnam - a war that this man knows all to well, having earned a Bronze Star with Combat "V", two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for his combat service? Is John Murtha totally out of line for voicing his opinion as an official elected to govern the nation?

Indeed, this debate is not split strictly on partisan lines. Republican Chuck Hagel took contention with Cheney's statement that it is unpatriotic to question the government during a war. In a press conference today with the South Korean President:
Q: Mr. President, Vice President Cheney called it reprehensible for critics to question how you took the country to war, but Senator Hagel says it's patriotic to ask those kinds of questions. Who do you think is right?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The Vice President.

Q Why?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, look, ours is a country where people ought to be able to disagree, and I expect there to be criticism. But when Democrats say that I deliberately misled the Congress and the people, that's irresponsible. They looked at the same intelligence I did, and they voted -- many of them voted to support the decision I made. It's irresponsible to use politics. This is serious business making -- winning this war. But it's irresponsible to do what they've done. So I agree with the Vice President.

Q -- (inaudible) --

PRESIDENT BUSH: I think people ought to be allowed to ask questions. It is irresponsible to say that I deliberately misled the American people when it came to the very same intelligence they looked at, and came to the -- many of them came to the same conclusion I did. Listen, I -- patriotic as heck to disagree with the President. It doesn't bother me. What bothers me is when people are irresponsibly using their positions and playing politics. That's exactly what is taking place in America.

If Democrats/Republicans/WHOEVER are "playing politics," then isn't that for us, the people who elect them, to grapple with? Perhaps Cheney is "playing politics" by making this suggestion to begin with. Perhaps, since we're talking about politicans, everything is "playing politics."
Is it impossible to debate the issues without accusing each other of playing politics or questioning each others' patriotism? If someone is an elected representative in the United States Congress, I should certainly hope that they are patriotic to their nation. Is it not patriotic to question your government? How would we ever improve if we never questioned authority? If we never strived to be better? How would we oust criminals in power? How would we spur the nation to progress? Discuss.

Articles used as reference:
Transcipt of Bush in South Korea
Murtha's speech

Learn about the noble cause of Great Pointed Archers.
scribbled mystickeeper at 6:50 PM

I think you make an important distinction between "blind" patriotism and the ideal of patriotism- someone who loves his or her country enough to critique it.
It worries me that our President can say in the same paragraph that it's patriotic as heck to disagree with the President, but that it is also irresponsible to do so. Even if the senators all looked at the "very same intelligence" and came to the same conclusion as Bush, that conclusion is by no means set in stone. A good politician should take each new piece of information into consideration and should be willing to revise his or her conclusions based upon new information. In other words, even if Congressmen decided that the war was perfectly justifiable when it began, they must reserve the right to call for it to end later on down the line, when circumstances, intelligence, and Iraqi and American attitudes shift.

As for English classes... eep. I have some friends who want me to take Nabokov, does that sound interesting? I register tonight at 8.


By Blogger Gretchen, at 8:53 AM, November 18, 2005  

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