With the House debating this week how much "non-binding" grief to lay on President Bush about Iraq, I e-mailed a soldier friend of mine for his impressions of the increasingly amplified protests.
Army Sgt. Daniel Dobson, 22, of Grand Rapids, Mich., is on his second tour in Iraq. I asked him what he thinks of the growing opposition to the war. Writing from Mosul, he says he appreciates the freedom Americans have to protest, but adds:
"The American military has shown a stone-cold professional veneer throughout the seething debate raging over Iraq. Beneath that veneer, however, is a fuming, visceral hatred. We feel as though we have been betrayed by Congress."
Sgt. Dobson believes the military is being hamstrung against an enemy with no reservations or restrictions:
"It is our overwhelming opinion that we have not been allowed to conduct the war to the fullest of our capability; neither do we feel that we should pull out because of a lack of results.' War is not a chemistry set with predetermined outcomes or complications. With a great army matched with an equally cunning enemy, we find ourselves in a difficult, but winnable fight. We do not seek results; rather, we seek total and unequivocal victory."
It's been a while since anyone spoke of "victory." Critics ask war supporters to define the word. Sgt. Dobson makes an effort: "That victory is close at hand. With nearly 80 percent of all terrorist and insurgent activity within 50 miles of Baghdad, the sheer thought of not taking out this stronghold is madness. If we can eliminate 80 percent of terrorist activity, the war is nearly won. To throw away a battle of this magnificent importance would be to waste the suffering and the sacrifice of American service members."
What of the effect on the troops from anti-war remarks on the streets and in Congress? Some assert it doesn't hurt troop morale. Sgt. Dobson disagrees:
"The question has been posed to me recently what congressional resolution hurts troop morale the most. No doubt we would be happy to come home tomorrow. But the thought is bittersweet. Most service members would tell you the same thing: there is no honor in retreat Š and there is no honor in what the Democrats have proposed. It stings me to the core to think that Americans would rather sell their honor than fight for a cause. Those of us who fight for (peace) know all too well that peace has a very bloody price tag."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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