Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Not Military, But a Poignant Letter
I am the daughter and granddaughter of career Army officers. I had a many-greats-grandfather who raised a regiment to fight for the Union in the Civil War; and since my grandmother was active in the DAR, I obviously had at least one ancestor who served under George Washington in the Revolution.
I was raised on Army bases and thought of the Army as my home town, since we never lived anywhere civilian long enough to feel that we belonged. I attended a church-related college in the Midwest and cast my very first vote for Richard Nixon--I was a true-blue conservative.
Then I went to grad school. In the 1960s. At Berkeley.
For the first time I was exposed to leftist ideas, which at first I regarded as diabolic. But as the decade--and the war, and the civil rights movement--wore on, my attitude changed. Oddly enough, the thing that converted me finally away from conservatism was reading one of the conservatives' sacred books, Burke's REFLECTIONS ON THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. Because most of his arguments were completely irrelevant to said revolution.
In Berkeley, I was considered a fonatical conservative. When I returned to Arizona to visit my father in his retirement, I found myself regarded as a wild-eyed radical. So I think I can safely assume I am right smack in the middle. I have always felt that there was room for debate from all sides--in fact, that that was just what Jefferson & Co. had in mind.
I think there is no question, judging by their actions, that the other side in Iraq are evil. But while fighting them, we must not adopt their methods--terror, torture, and demonization of those who disagree with us. And we must do what Bush, Rove, and their cohorts have failed to do--give the troops what they need to get the job done, or at the very least not treat them as cannon fodder by giving them defective equipment!
I and some friends who belong to a chatgroup about Siamese cats, of all things, have a adopted a Blackhawk helicopter squadron in which the brother of one of our members serves. They are not living the country-club life over there; they deserve everything we can give them: from properly armored vehicles to red licorice (which our squadron fancies). And, most of all, practicing the fair-minded, small-d democratic, reasoned debate that is what they are standing up for.
I have no idea if we will succeed in bringing democracy to Iraq. Since there is no extant democratic tradition to build on, I think it unlikely. But I know darned well that we won't succeed by stifling it at home.