Stuff Ballard Wrote

Tag: Iraq

2004 letter against Bush & Taylor

Sentinel, September, 2004

[An Iraq soldier responded in support of this letter]

I’m actually writing this to those who voted for George Bush and/or Charles Taylor in the last couple of elections. I understand the professionals don’t bother with voters who maintain their support for the other side.  But I hate to see anybody repeat the mistakes of their past.

So…what have Bush and Taylor done for you?

They gave you a tax cut. You like that.  You got a few hundred dollars, maybe.  But does it bother you that Bush and Taylor’s friends, the millionaires, got mega-thousands in their tax refund envelopes?  And that this giveaway resulted in a massive national debt that our children will inherit?

They went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  You were all for that.  We had to strike back.  But does it bother you that they were CLUELESS as to HOW they went to war?  Months passed before they went after Osama in Afghanistan and never with adequate forces.  They had no understanding of what occupying Iraq would mean, even though volumes had been written on the subject.

They passed legislation. Yes, indeed.  For four years they passed legislation.  But can you name one item of legislation they passed?  Does it bother you that EVERYTHING the Republican Congress did from 2001, when Bush took office, until now has been for political purposes, to please their base of support, not to solve our country’s problems?  Everything.

If you’re a conservative Christian, does it bother you that they have passed or proposed law after law designed to keep you happy? Maybe not – unless you think about it.  With all the problems our country faces, they spend week after week on matters of abortion and gay marriage, for example – because they think they can get you worked up and you’ll forget about jobs being lost, the record national debt, their poor planning and handling of the war, their inaction on healthcare, etc., etc.  Do you feel insulted that they think you can be led around by your nose like that?  Do you feel like a sucker?  I would.  As soon as they’re in trouble, they hold a press conference against gay marriage or abortion in an effort to pacify you.  It would make me mad.

Have you noticed that they don’t hold press conferences to denounce their own sins of pride and arrogance and greed – the things Jesus preached against. Their objective is to divide the country into “us” and “them” factions.  That’s the only way they can win.

I guess what I’m saying to you who have recently voted for Bush and Taylor, especially you Democrats, is this: THINK.  If you can look at what Bush and Taylor have done – and I say DONE, not what they’ve talked about – and you can say, yes, they’ve done their jobs, I have no quarrel with your voting for them again.  But I’m betting if you were to look with a truly open mind, you’d say it’s time for a change.

Good war? Bad war?

Daily Planet, 7/2015

A Washington Post survey last March asked people what concerned them about a possible U.S. involvment against ISIS in Iraq– that we would go too far or that we wouldn’t go far enough.

Republicans responded 34% that we would go too far and 57% that we wouldn’t go far enough. Democrats: 62% that we’d go too far, 25% that we wouldn’t go far enough.   Independents: 56% that we’d go too far, 28% that we wouldn’t go far enough.

Many polls have asked whether the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were worth fighting. In every one, Republicans say “yes, they were” by wide margins over the general population – like the CBS News poll last year that had Republicans 27% and non-Republicans 18%.

There’s a message in these numbers about Republicans.

Right: the numbers say that Republicans are very different from other Americans in their attitudes toward war. They are far more likely to favor military solutions.

We all remember March, 2003, when U.S. forces invaded Iraq. Suddenly, streets were a forest of fluttering car flags. America was at war!

Before the invasion, there were protests and vigils.   After the invasion, a storefront displayed a sign saying protesters should be ashamed. Our troops, it said, were risking their lives to protect the protesters’ right to protest. And soon ribbons appeared urging: “Support the Troops.”

They missed the point: the Iraq War was a bad war. It had nothing to do with American freedoms. Sure, I supported the poor clods who had to obey orders and do the fighting. It was the war itself that was wrong.

Vietnam was also a bad war. Like Iraq, the basic rationale for the Vietnam War was untrue and even dishonest.

By contrast, there are good wars. I watch American Heroes Channel more than any other (except baseball). The Marines in the Pacific, the Army in Europe – the best of our young men dying to stop aggression. WW2 needed to be fought.

My wife and I read a lot about the Civil War and marvel how the hand of God acted to end slavery. We’ve stood in long meditation on Little Round Top at Gettysburg and felt a deep emotion as we recreated what happened there – the courage and devotion of both the 20th Maine and the exhausted 15th Alabama. The outcome that afternoon doomed the Confederacy.

It’s easy to look backward and judge “good war, bad war.” Wars yet to be fought are tough.

Senator Marco Rubio has said, “We need to begin to prepare people” for war with Iran. Yikes, he’s running for President!   Iranians are increasingly influenced by Western ideas. The general population is a lot like us.

This series of columns has been critical of conservative Republican values – how they use the Bible to support pet positions, how they’re being led into unwise positions on guns by a self-serving NRA, and how they try to use the American flag to show themselves super-patriotic.

This column is less critical of the conservative Republican value regarding the military. Yes, they glorify war, and they push us toward military involvement.   And yes, they mistakenly see themselves as more patriotic than others.

But we need them. We need people who are disciplined, subordinate and, yes, warlike, for our national defense. (But interestingly, while our military’s officer corps is lop-sidedly Republican, our total 1.4 million military personnel are not. Both men and women are about 47% Independent. Men are 28% Republican and 16% Democrat. Women are 28% Democrat and 19% Republican.)

And they provide one side in our national debates on war, an opinion we need.

For example, our involvement in Iraq against ISIS.   Good war or bad war?

I’m open to the idea that such a war might be necessary. I’m listening with one ear to Lindsey Graham.


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