Keeping My Mouth Shut

You know, I’m tired of hearing soldiers telling that if I disagree with the Iraq War, I should honor their and their families’ sacrifices by keeping my mouth shut. It’s stunning that these soldiers believe that they are helping to establish democracy in Iraq are incensed by its free exercise at home. The Iraq War was started over a pack of lies, for no more reason than that the members of The Project for the New American Century (whose members include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, Jeb Bush, Gary Bauer, Dan Quayle … any of these names sound familiar?) thought it’d be a nifty way of opening up the Middle East to American businesses (Dick Chaney’s former company, Halliburton certainly profited).
It is a soldier’s duty to obey his orders, whether or not he agrees with the action. Whether or not a soldier agrees with the Iraq War or the reasons behind it, he is honor-bound to go there and do his duty and fulfill his oath if so directed. I respect what that means to a soldier. But even soldiers have a right to their personal opinion. It’s chilling that many think that I, as a citizen, do not. Or at least that I should keep them to myself.
There is a big difference between the responsibilities of soldiers and those of of a citizen. As a citizen I swore an oath of allegiance to this country, not to any political party and certainly not to any particular president. It is the duty of the American citizen to speak out when the country’s political leaders stray from legal, Constitutional and moral law. It is one of the very foundations of this country that American citizens can do so without fear of arrest and imprisonment by his or her government. It is, in fact, the duty of the American citizen to speak out when our leaders have done wrong, and if those leaders refuse to do right, to work against their re-election.
President Bush has committed enough fraud and crimes against the American people, because of Iraq, wiretapping of Americans, and rejection of human rights under the Geneva Convention, to be impeached and possibly imprisoned. The only thing preventing that is the protection of his own political party, which is fully in power and would never allow a move against him.
It is a soldier’s duty to obey the orders of his Commander-In-Chief. It is the citizens’ duty to ensure that those orders are legal and moral, and if they are not to see that the Commander-In-Chief is held accountable, whether that be in the court of public opinion or at the ballot box. It is the very definition of patriotism to speak out in defense of your country’s legal and moral precedents. It is the very definition of patriotism to expect, and demand, that American soldiers’ lives, limbs and blood not be spilled to enrich the political allies of a certain group of people.
I am an American patriot because I expect, and demand, that our political leaders carry out their obligations according to the legal and moral precedents of our Founding Fathers. This is how I support the soldiers, by trying to ensure that no two-bit dictator sends them forth to commit crimes in the name of political ideology. Any student of history will be aware that only under a dictatorship will the citizens be expected to censure themselves so as to not offend the government. And only under a dictatorship would the military demand the unconditional support of the citizenry.
History shows that Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito were wildly popular among their own people. They did not have to reckon with the free exercise of democracy, but expected and demanded the full support of the people. When Americans are made to feel that they do not love their country or support their soldiers unless they silence their dissent, we are on a slippery slope indeed.

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