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Murtha Breaks the Dam

After 9/11, President Bush built a dam behind which he esconced himself in the presidency. He built the dam with the bricks of militarism and patriotism and cemented it with fear. Protected by this seemingly impregnable dam, Bush attacked Iraq, and the Democratic officeholders went along. Though events in Iraq went from bad to terrible Democrats, except for a brave soul like Feingold, were afraid to say anything. Yesterday, the dam broke when Democratic Representative John Murtha, a decorated veteran of the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and up to now a strong hawk, called for immediate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

You remember how Bush blanketed the country with fear? There was talk of an "imminent threat," "mushroom clouds," and "destroying terrorists there instead of here." The "war on terror" seemed to grow more ominous when he changed the threat color codes, usually before some important national event. Bush and other administration officials talked and the rest of us shivered.

Bush was bent on attacking Iraq before 9/11. Richard Clarke, who worked in the White House at the start of the administration, told us so. Before Bush went to present his case to the UN, he had already deployed all the necessary ships, planes and arms to areas close to Iraq. When UN inspectors said they could settle matters with a little time, Bush ridiculed them. He could not wait to attack with what was called "shock and awe." He did not need "permission" from anybody.

If anyone was bold enough to criticize anything, he was immediately called unpatriotic. Some anti-war activists demonstrated and were immediately labeled as traitors. This is war, they were told. They were hurting our troops. In time of war no criticism of the commander-in-chief is allowed.

Democratic officeholders were scared too. Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress voted to authorized the use of force against Iraq. To his credit, Senator Feingold voted against hostilities.

The war went fast and well, but the aftermath has been awful. After 2-1/2 years of deaths and destruction in Iraq, the majority of the public has finally decided that the Iraq war was a mistake. Feingold has recently stated that we should withdraw our troops by the end of 2006.

All this time Representative Murtha has been a hawk. He is a decorated Marine and has been a strong voice for a strong defense in Congress. Yesterday he said this:

"Our military's done everything that has been asked of them. The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It's time to bring the troops home."

President Bush was taken aback by Murtha's statements. After saying in a statement that Murtha is "a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America," he continued:

"So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists."

Vice President Cheney also unleashed his vituperative mouth. To which Murtha retorted:

"I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done. I resent the fact, on Veterans Day, he criticized Democrats for criticizing them. This is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public knows it. And lashing out at critics doesn't help a bit. You've got to change the policy."

Murtha broke the dam. People are throwing off the blanket of fear. They are beginning to realize that militarism is destructive to our way of life and is not effective. As for patriotism, Republican Senator Hagel is setting our values straight when he says:

"To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic. America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."

Hagel, too, is for leaving Iraq, although not suddenly.

Now that the fear-militarism-patriotism dam has been broken, the president is exposed and naked. We are no longer afraid. Soon, with a little coaxing, we will switch from a policy based on militarism to one based on diplomacy. And we will not be prevented from expressing ourselves because we fear being branded "unpatriotic."

What a great day! Murtha broke the dam!

Posted by Paul Siegel at November 18, 2005 6:51 PM