Tuesday, May 30, 2006


If There be Oceans Ahead

Owen West contributes an excellent Op-Ed essay in, of all places, that resolutely partisan New York Times.

He opens with a quote from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address:

“NEITHER party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease.”

West makes the argument that the war in Iraq has allowed both sides of the issue to retreat to bitter partisan rhetoric, thereby hastening a “crisis of expectations.”

This is ground truth, from someone formerly an active participant in the Global War on Terror, who now, along with colleague Wade Zirkle and others, founded Vets for Freedom.

West’s essay is too good not to let him have the last words:

Soldiers are sick of apologizing for a sliver of malcontents who are not at all representative of the new breed. But they are also sick of being pitied. Our warriors are the hunters, not the hunted, and we should celebrate them as we did in the past, for while our tastes have changed, warfare — and the need to cultivate national guardians — has not. As Kipling wrote, "The strength of the pack is the wolf."

Finally, today's debates are not high-spirited so much as mean-spirited. To allow polarizing forces to dominate the argument by insinuating false motives on one side or a lack of patriotism on the other is to obscure long-term security decisions that have to be made now.

We are clashing with an enemy who has been at war with us in one form or another for two decades. Our military response may take decades more. We have crossed several rivers and the nation is hoping that ahead lie streams. But if they are oceans, we should heed Lincoln's call: "With malice toward none, with charity for all ... let us strive on to finish the work we are in."

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