I have no problem with people telling me I'm wrong (even when I'm not). I don't like it when people tell me to shut up, or suggest that speaking out would be dangerous or disloyal. I haven't been writing about the war, other than how it's become a fact of life like the weather. It's not that I'm afraid. It's more that I don't want to keep repeating myself. I've already said most of what I have to say, and I haven't changed my mind.
This isn't about the war being fought in Iraq. It's about some of the same principles we say we're trying to bring to the Iraqis, though.
Guess what? I'm an American. I'm proud to be an American, and I'm proud of the people in our armed forces. They did a great job in Afghanistan, and they're doing their work in Iraq with skill, dedication and courage. I hope they all come home, and that when they do they are hailed as heroes. They're fighting for a cause that's worthy of their sacrifice, and the world should thank them for it.
I'm an American, and part of being an American is the freedom to think for myself, listen to all sides of a question, and speak out against my government if I feel the need. This country hasn't lasted more than two hundred years by stifling independent thought and forcing all its citizens to toe the party line. That's exactly what we're supposed to be fighting against.
Anyone who believes the policy that puts people in harm's way is misguided (or worse) has the right to say so. Not an obligation — nobody has to speak up if they don't want to. But nobody has a right to condemn someone for speaking up, either. We've fought the battle for that right, and we're in a position where we might have to fight for it again.
An indictment of the policy isn't a criticism of those who carry it out in good faith. They don't get to decide where they go and what they do, and they're not responsible for any bad results after they've done their job. It's not our soldiers' fault the politicians failed to follow through on establishing stability in Afghanistan. Perhaps they'll do better in Iraq, eventually. That's not the troops' concern, though.
Many good Americans oppose this war, on moral grounds and on practical grounds. Saying so doesn't make them bad Americans, any more than voicing support for the policy does. We get to the truth by sorting through facts and opinions and beliefs and biases. And oh my, do we have plenty of all of those, even facts. I think we can get to that truth without destroying what we stand for.