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Michael Russnow Headshot

Patriotism is not Synonymous with the Republican Party: It's Time They Stopped Using the "P" Word

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Whether Obama or McCain is better fit to deal with defense and overseas issues, I'm constantly amazed how those who can't really defend our failed foreign policies choose to hit below the belt using the "P" word, hoping such an asinine emotional response will promote the Republican candidate. You may agree or disagree about the war in Iraq or how we got there. However, suggesting that those who are in opposition are either less than patriotic or, worse, are giving aid and comfort to the enemy is irrational and undemocratic.

It's ironic that most people now believe the war was entered into on a false premise -- that there were weapons of mass destruction -- that we as a nation were somehow in jeopardy. Even the current administration has stated that the original rationale was bogus, but refuses to back away from the current course, using the excuse that Iraq is better without Saddam Hussein. Or alternatively mind-blowing that, since Iraq is full of terrorism now, it's terrific that we are there -- even though our actions motivated the terrorists to move into Iraq in the first place.

What boggles the mind, however, is the view that by stirring up debate on the issue, in particular the infusion of new troops into the conflict morass, those who oppose such actions are putting the troops already there in additional harm's way. Or that to diminish our forces or withdraw would be an insult to those whose lives were lost or whose bodies were permanently maimed.

Another fallacy is that the families of all those who suffered would either be shamed or see little purpose in the loss or wounding of their loved ones. So, rather than admit a mistake that might save countless others, it is better to throw lambs to the slaughter. This is an opinion which makes no sense at all. Although we are usually more than willing to sell our stocks when they are on a nosedive, rather than throwing good money after bad, we are loathe to do this about something more precious, the expending of human life.

Why do these families feel an admission that the war was a stupid mistake will reflect on the honor of those who simply followed orders? It was not their decision to go to Iraq. All they did was submit to their superiors, which was part and parcel of the contract they signed when they joined the armed services. A charge that the war was ill conceived is a reflection on the civilian leaders who ordered their military subordinates to follow their bidding. They are the ones who will be dishonored. This is a fact many people refuse to accept.

It is sad these people lost their treasured family members or continue to watch them suffer, but how does it really help their grief or sorrow by sending countless others to share the same fate? Their children or siblings or parents are gone or permanently disabled. There's little we can do to alleviate their pain. Why should we send others to participate in a war that's so obviously a mistake, as if they were lemmings going over a cliff? It's simply outrageous.

Even more so as the news from Iraq makes it clear that there's no end in sight. People should cut their losses as they would when they've reached their limit at the blackjack table, instead of reaching into their pockets for their credit cards, jeopardizing the rent or mortgage or possibly worse.

The bottom line is that people should never regard those in opposition to their point of view as unpatriotic. If they want to view the other person as mistaken, that's okay, but to castigate us as somehow less decent and honorable than they are goes against the grain of exactly what their loved ones, who suffered or lost their lives, were in fact fighting for.

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