Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Let's Cut the Backseat Driving, Okay?

Over the past few months, the public seems to have decided the Iraq War is now a quagmire and is certainly not worth the cost. I've concluded the only reason for this is the incredible historical ignorance of many Americans (thanks to the Publik Skools). The Iraq war has been an unequalled military success, especially when compared to past wars. Yet a majority of Americans now want to raise the white flag and quit.

President Bush has taken alot of criticism for his dogged determination to see the war through. It is understandable that the Democrats would bash him; what is inexplicable that supposed supporters of the war are his worst critics. It seems to validate Napoleon's observation that "Success has a thousand fathers; failure is an orphan". There's alot of butt-covering going on in Congress and the punditry right now.

This is not the first time an unpopular wartime president has had to fight his enemies and his friends at the same time. Abraham Lincoln was mercilessly criticized by his staunchest supporters for failing to crush the Confederacy within 90 days. Many were openly questioning his competence, and even some members of his cabinet were working against him.

President Lincoln generally stuck to the task at hand, but every now and then he lost patience. When a group of abolitionist ministers lectured him on the lack of progress in the war, he responded with one his characteristic folksy metaphors. Likening the government to a famous tightrope walker, he said:

Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was in gold, and you had put it in the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River. Would you shake the cable or keep shouting out to him 'Blondin, stand up a little straighter!' 'Blondin, stoop a little more' 'Go a little faster'; 'Lean a little more to the north'; 'Lean a little more to the south'? No. You would hold your breath as well as your tongue, and keep your hands off until he was safe over.

The Government is carrying an immense weight. Untold treasures are in their hands. They are doing the very best they can. Don't badger them. Keep silence, and we'll get you safe across.
(Foote, The Civil War, Vol. II, p. 109, emphasis added)

President Bush is carrying an immense weight. The future of the entire Middle East, indeed, of the United States, is in his hands. If he fails, we fail. And if we fail, we lose. If we give in to pessimism and give up, we will not have peace now, or any time in the foreseeable future.

Let's help our president and our country. Keep your mouth shut, at least until Iraq is functioning on its own. The enemy is listening. I'm sure he likes what he hears.


At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Granted, there is a certain amount of backseat driving going on.

But your suggestion to "Keep your mouth shut" is ludicrous. How many atrocities and coverups have we found in the last 50 years from having people question the status quo? Think of Watergate, Abu Ghraib, Big Tobacco, civil-liberties abuses, overspending at the Pentagon...the list goes on and on.

Yes, short-term questions can distract from the long-term vision. But they can also improve society by increasing transparency and accountability. Weigh the two and decide what kind of society you want to live in.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Captain Holly said...

There's absolutely nothing wrong with legitimate criticism of the President in time of war. But that's not what's going on here.

What we are seeing now is a massive, masochistic self-flagellation of the US in general and President Bush in particular by persons who largely don't care about Iraq or democracy or terrorism, but who do care about obtaining political power for themselves and who will do or say anything to make it happen.

Which is why I provided the historical perspective. President Lincoln was one of the few persons who knew just what kind of sacrifice was necessary to save the Union. He was unfortunately surrounded by ambitious back-stabbers who didn't care one whit about slavery or anything other than their own political agendas.

Had Sherman not captured Atlanta in September 1864, it is likely that Lincoln would have lost the election, and the Confederacy would have probably survived. In fact, Jefferson Davis recognized that the 1864 election was the key to their survival.

The terrorists recognize the same thing about the 2004 election.


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