A Loyalty Test
By David Peterson at Jan 11, 2006
"President Addresses Veterans of Foreign Wars on the War on Terror," White House Office of the Press Secretary, January 10, 2006
And while we're on the subject of honest Americans, perhaps you will indulge me to excerpt here six paragraphs (actually seven, if we count the obligatory "God bless" - line that occurs at the very end) from the close of the American President's speech today:
We face an added challenge in the months ahead: The campaign season will soon be upon us -- and that means our nation must carry on this war in an election year. There is a vigorous debate about the war in Iraq today, and we should not fear the debate. It's one of the great strengths of our democracy that we can discuss our differences openly and honestly -- even in times of war. Yet we must remember there is a difference between responsible and irresponsible debate -- and it's even more important to conduct this debate responsibly when American troops are risking their lives overseas. The American people know the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate when they see it. They know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted and partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people. And they know the difference between a loyal opposition that points out what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right. When our soldiers hear politicians in Washington question the mission they are risking their lives to accomplish, it hurts their morale. In a time of war, we have a responsibility to show that whatever our political differences at home, our nation is united and determined to prevail. And we have a responsibility to our men and women in uniform -- who deserve to know that once our politicians vote to send them into harm's way, our support will be with them in good days and in bad days -- and we will settle for nothing less than complete victory. (Applause.) We also have an opportunity this year to show the Iraqi people what responsible debate in a democracy looks like. In a free society, there is only one check on political speech -- and that's the judgment of the people. So I ask all Americans to hold their elected leaders to account, and demand a debate that brings credit to our democracy -- not comfort to our adversaries. Support for the mission in Iraq should not be a partisan matter. VFW members come from all over the country, and both sides of the political aisle -- yet your position on the war is clear. In a recent resolution, the VFW declared, "it is critical that the United States succeed in Iraq, which will result in stability and security in the region." I appreciate your support for the mission in Iraq, and so do our troops in the fight. Your lives of service, from the first time you put on the uniform to this day, are a credit to our country and an inspiration to our military. A new generation of soldiers, and sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen is now carrying out an urgent and noble mission -- and they're doing so with the same determination and courage as you who came before them. Some of our finest men and women have given their lives in freedom's cause. Others have returned home with wounds that the best medicine cannot heal. We hold all who sacrificed and their families in our thoughts and in our prayers. And I'm going to make you this pledge: We will not waver, we will not weaken, and we will not back down in the cause they served. (Applause.) By their sacrifice, we are laying the foundation of freedom in a troubled part of the world. And by laying that foundation, we're laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. Thank you for letting me come by today. God bless. (Applause.)"Irresponsible debate." "Partisan critics." "Defeatists." Commie-Symps. Terror-Symps........ Observe the way the folk who draft these public exercises for the American President define their terms:
The American people know the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate when they see it. They know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted and partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people. And they know the difference between a loyal opposition that points out what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right.But now tell me something. Strictly between ourselves. Okay? Which group do you count yourselves among? The “responsible,” the “honest,” and the “loyal opposition”? Or the “irresponsible” and the “partisan” and the “defeatists”? Among those who bring “credit to our democracy”? Or those who provide “comfort to our adversaries” instead? (Pssst. Come on. You can tell me. And don't worry: I won't tell another soul.)
These days, with the regime's approval and overall polling data mired somewhere far to the south of the heady "Mission Accomplished" period nearly three years ago, when the regime still believed it could militarily seize sovereign countries at will, without generating armed resistance on the soil that it sought to steal, and counting on the captive American mind to remain undivided and loyal to the hilt, the regime is willing to concede that an honest American very well may "question the way the war is being prosecuted." But it adamantly denies that an honest American would ever "claim that we," i.e., this regime, "acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people." Let alone recognize the more fundamental fact that, in the historial record as written by the actions of the United States of America over countless generations, a whole uninterrupted series of regimes has seldom, if ever, acted on any basis other than material self-interest and worldly power.
"President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended," White House Office of the Press Secretary, May 1, 2003 "President Addresses Veterans of Foreign Wars on the War on Terror," White House Office of the Press Secretary, January 10, 2006
Postscript (January 15, 2006): From the ranks of better late than never---however timid and apologetic in their approach to the altar of the Imperial Presidency both the Washington Post and the New York Times may be:"Super Predator," ZNet, October 7, 2005 "American Jackals," ZNet, January 5, 2006 "A Loyalty Test," ZNet, January 10, 2006
"Unchecked Abuse," Editorial, Washington Post, January 11, 2006 "The Imperial Presidency at Work," Editorial, New York Times, January 15, 2006 (as posted to Truthout)Now. If only they had the nerve to invoke the same obligations erga omnes-, Chapter VII-, and "coalition of the willing"-type principles when it comes to the conduct of their favorite Power. I for one can think of a failed state in need of dramatic fixing. And a planet in need of liberation. But---in another 12 months time, perhaps?
"Treason and the American President," ZNet, December 18, 2005 "A Failed State," ZNet, December 30, 2005 "Attacking Domestic Society," ZNet, January 8, 2006