- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 20, 2005

As an Iraq War veteran, I never cease to be amazed at the type and level of dissent about this war among certain elements of the population.

First, I notice the dissent is largely based on hatred of President Bush. Friends and relatives who hate the president can find no thoughtful rationalization for supporting the war. The interesting — but not surprising — thing to me is these same folks couldn’t wait to drop bombs on Serbia over Kosovo in 1999. Now as a reservist, I was alerted for Kosovo, but our unit did not have to go. But at the time, I had trouble understanding why the United States needed to get involved. None of our national interests were threatened. It was in Europe’s back yard. No Serbian terrorists had flown planes into buildings in New York City or were connected to al Qaeda or were trying to produce weapons of mass destruction to use against us. The nearest I can come up with is guilt over doing nothing in Rwanda — and the more sinister notion we have no compelling “equities” in Rwanda.

In any event, the pro-bomb-Serbia-back-to-the-Stone-Age crowd used humanitarian necessity as the reason for intervening. When I point out Saddam killed 1 million of his own people (more Muslims than Israel has ever killed), and I helped liberate a mass grave of 5,000 bodies, I get one of two reactions: either their eyes glaze over or they say Mr. Bush should have given that as his reason for invading and not WMD.

We didn’t invade Normandy to liberate Jews from concentration camps. We did it to free Europe from the Nazis. In the course of doing so, we discovered and liberated the camps. We didn’t fight the Civil War initially to free the slaves, but to preserve the Union. The slaves were freed in the process. The whole world thought Saddam had WMD, so we invaded — and liberated a people in the process.

Second, I notice dissidents in this war are very touchy about their rights. If you disagree with them, they accuse you of accusing them of being unpatriotic. Touchy. They view themselves as dissenters in the heroic mold: standing tall, leaning into the wind of orthodoxy, likening themselves to the Founding Fathers, etc. In fact, in their dissent they sacrifice nothing, they risk nothing, they live in their comfortable homes, have satellite TV, drive luxury cars, and complain about the war and the president at cocktail parties. In the morning, they can be found in Starbucks coffeehouses reading the New York Times. At night, they populate the theaters and Opera Houses.

A crisis for a dissenter is when his landscaper goes out of business for hiring illegal aliens. No one watches or harasses them; they need not go underground. Dissent in silk slippers.

When you mention the consequences of their dissent include undermining the war effort, providing aid and comfort to the enemy and — most important — hurting the morale of the troops, you get one of two reactions: Their eyes glaze over or they say it’s Mr. Bush’s fault. When they come to, they launch into the predictable “you’re trying to stifle dissent” speech.

It’s not about stifling their dissent, it’s about understanding and acknowledging the consequences of their dissent. This they will never do. Don’t hold your breath.

Third, the definition of “patriotism” for the dissenter seems to depend on whatever their current state of mind is at the time. It’s a moving target. To them, “patriotism” is opposing the war, attacking President Bush and caring for the troops (which has a totally different meaning for the dissenter).

The whole subject of “caring for the troops” is a subject unto itself. To the supporter of the war, this means ensuring the troops have everything they need to carry the fight to the enemy. It means sending troops care packages, writing them letters, seeing them off, cheering them on, welcoming them home, and — most important — saying “Thank you.”

To the dissenter “caring for the troops” means attacking Mr. Bush when the troops don’t have armored Humvees (Note: We didn’t know we needed them until we got there), providing platforms for them to dissent via blogs and Web pages, aiding and abetting desertion and otherwise treating them as pawns, helpless beings from America’s backwoods and small towns who only joined the Army because they couldn’t find work (also Mr. Bush’s fault).

On my return home, I called a dissenting friend to tell her I was back. Her first words were: “Do they have counseling for you?”.

The dissenters want another Vietnam. They want their dissent to cause the troops to come home early, before the mission is finished. Then, Iraq war vets will get five bonus points on their applications for federal jobs, a host of veterans benefits, the Republicans voted out of office, a new totalitarian regime in Iraq that will make Saddam look like a Girl Scout and a chance to show their compassion by allowing thousands of Iraqi refugees to settle in America.

And it will all be George W. Bush’s fault.


Jay Bachar is a Civil Affairs Army Reservist who was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 and returned home in April 2004.

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