Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Discussion Topic for Tuesday, January 4, 2004

From: Titus Livy@xxxx.com
To: Yankeedoodle@gmail.com

I think your blog makes a very important point, and it makes it well. To make it even better, I'd like to suggest that you avoid casting issues in terms of "liberal" and "conservative". Those labels will only tend to divide people who must ultimately be united if the carnage is to end.

I'm thinking of your reply to Tim Estes, for instance. I see why his mail made you mad. It would have made me mad, too. But why should you let him undermine your effectiveness by baiting you into an anti-conservative tirade?

To illustrate my point, I am a conservative -- an authentic, hardcore conservative -- but I strongly disapprove of the way the war is being conducted, and I regard George W. Bush as a raving idiot. I didn't vote for him, and I don't support most of his programs. In fact, I think he's a closet Liberal who has only pretended to be a Conservative so he could leverage his family's political assets. But that's another story.

My real point is that I'm sympathetic to your claim that the war is spiraling toward a disaster of horrific proportions. I was in college during Vietnam, and I recall the anxiety and conflict that men my age faced: join or not join; go to Canada or go to jail; submit to the draft or blow your big toe off with a handgun (a ticket to 4F status). I knew men who fought. I knew men who died. I knew men who were maimed for life. I knew men who went to jail and to Canada. When I was ordered to report for my draft physical, I told them I would go to jail rather than be inducted. So...they classified me as 4-Y, which meant I was fit but not draftable. Their way of keeping another dissenter out of the headlines.

And I see it all unfolding again in Iraq...but the long term consequences will be much worse. The son of an acquaintance of mine was recently killed in Iraq. All over America people are finding carnage at their doorsteps. There are more than 1,300 American dead -- men and women who will never again see their parents, their children, their spouses, their friends. And those who knew them will never fully recover. There will always be a hole in their lives. Upwards of 10,000 Americans have been wounded -- many of them will never ski again or ride a bike or go dancing with their girlfriend, because they lost a foot or a leg. Others will never drive, because they are blind now, or they will never live independetly again, because they suffered a serious brain injury. Iraq is the mistake that will go on hurting forever.

At some point, America will come face to face with the realization that Iraq has been a disaster. Not just a mistake, mind you, but a great, avoidable catastrophe of unspeakable proportions. And then the real challenge will confront us all. What shall we do then? There are no easy answers, but it is better that we should reach that point sooner rather than later. And that's why I'd like to see you be as effective as you can be.

Help us see the light sooner. Please don't let the Tim Esteses of the world distract you from your mission. You're doing something important...so stay on goal.

Focus on the issues: the war is going downhill, Bush's game plan is broken, American casualties are accelerating, the Iraqis neither understand nor want to embrace democracy, and there is no hope...absolutely no realistic hope whatever...for a happy conclusion to Bush's greatest mistake.

Be effective today, so that tomorrow Tim Estes will be ashamed to say that he ever disagreed with you.

Hope this is useful.



From: Yankeedoodle@gmail.com
To: Titus Livy@xxxx.com


Thank you for your thoughtful email and thank you for reading my blog.

I think we both love our country and we both agree that the war in Iraq is a disaster of unprecedented proportions and its effects will haunt America for generations. I focus my attention (and my blog) on Iraq because of the terrible – and deliberately misleading – American media coverage of that war, and because I'm a retired soldier. My comrades and the soldiers I trained are fighting this war, and the Army I devoted my career to building is being destroyed by an incompetent gaggle of ideologues. I've already posted the names of friends in the Casualty Reports, as well as the only son of one of the finest NCOs I ever served with. I can remember when that boy was selected for West Point and how proud his daddy was. So this blog is kinda personal and I sometimes lose my objectivity when I get monkey mail.

I don't consider myself a "liberal" except in the sense that I believe in liberal democracy, meaning every adult citizen is enfranchised with the right to vote regardless of property, status or parentage, enjoys constitutionally-guaranteed civil liberties, and equal protection under law. I voted for Republican presidents in every election from 1972 until 1992 when I held my nose and voted for Bill Clinton, mainly because I was so disgusted with Bush I's handling of the Savings and Loan bailout, the deficit, and the military drawdown in 1990 – 1992. (Republicans like to accuse Clinton of "gutting" the military, but the 1991 drawdown designed and implemented by Cheney and Bush I did enormous damage to the Army, especially in terms of personnel, training and military housing. Our current troop shortage is directly attributable to the short-sighted decisions made in the Bush I administration. I know this is true. I was there.)

I disagree with you about labeling. People like Tim Estes have stolen the label "conservative" from people like you. If you oppose Bush, you will be smeared as a "liberal." If you oppose his war, you are a "traitor." If you question his foreign policy, you "hate America." And it isn't just Tim Estes; go over to Town Hall and read the venom spewed by the columnists there and directed at any Americans who oppose Bush, his war, his foreign policy or his domestic policies. The Republican Party has been hijacked by a bunch of religious fundamentalists, corporate crooks, racists and neo-Nazi loons who call themselves "conservatives," and Tim Estes is their base constituency.

So my use of labels is deliberate, just as Republican propagandists use labels to smear their opponents. I'm not out to smear Tim Estes (he does that just fine all by himself) but to shock real conservatives like you about the people who have stolen your political identity. I don't think our country will become united until we realize who is dividing us.

I've started a new blog called Reader Contributions. It's linked on the right side of the Today in Iraq page, and its purpose is to stimulate discussion among readers. With your permission, I'd like to publish your email as a discussion topic. If that's OK with you, let me know.

Again, thanks for the email and for reading the blog.


From: Titus Livy@xxxx.com
To: Yankeedoodle@gmail.com

Thanks for taking the time to send your thoughtful reply. I see where you're coming from, and I really hope you're successful. Go with your instincts, and I'm sure you'll be on the right track.

You're right about partisanship and its effects, too. The country is so drunk on partisanship that people have lost their minds. We are so busy screaming at one another that there is no time left to think. I can't imagine any other explanation for the fact that Bush II -- whose administration is a self-evident disaster of catastrophic proportions -- was re-elected.

In any case, if you continue to confront people with the plain facts of the war, your influence will keep growing. People must be made to look at the facts, since they speak for themselves. No argument is necessary...just look at the carnage. That will eventually overcome the partisanship. Your graphic of the war's course (charting attacks over time, etc) is especially effective. Accelerating deterioration does not suddenly terminate in success. There will be no happy ending.

I don't think Rumsfeld and Cheney are stupid men...so I wonder what they think about when they are alone in the middle of the night. They must know. In the same way that McNamara knew back in the 60s, they have to know that they've led America into a disaster. And when I look to the future, when America recognizes its mistake, what will we do then? The terrorists will be back in New York and Chicago and LA, but our military will be wounded and demoralized, and the public will have lost the will to fight. That's when things will get really bad.

I feel truly sorry for the brave American men and women who are dying in Iraq. Their spirit and dedication is the best example of what America can and should be. They are like the people who joined up after Pearl Harbor...but this time they are led by fools. Bush's abuse of their patriotism and dedication is a crime that will not be forgotten, even if America does not yet fully recognize it.

In the meantime, good luck! Oh...and feel free to post my mail on your site if you think that'll help.



On Edit: Thanks to ThePaper for taking the time to provide a readable text.