"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating
things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of
catapult the propaganda." -- George W. Bush, 5/24/05
I supported George W. Bush in the presidential election
in 2000, believing then that he best reflected my love for America and for our
tradition of liberty. I supported the war in Afghanistan. In March of 2003, I
believed that the invasion of Iraq was justified based upon pre-war revelations
presented to Congress and to the American people. Accordingly, the indictments
contained herein apply, first and foremost, to myself.
Many Americans whom I know and love, including many
current supporters of President Bush, remain conflicted over both his ultimate
intentions in Iraq as well as domestic curtailment of civil liberties.
Many have given the benefit of the doubt to President
Bush, and, in a misdirected spirit of unity, have supported, as did I,
administration policies that conflict with our essential values.
This essay explores many of the issues that led me
personally to the recognition that the policies I was supporting in Iraq were
not consistent with the justifications made for the invasion in the spring of
2003, that implicit in our post-invasion actions was the goal of permanent
occupation, which would ensure endless war and the resultant degradation of
our liberty, our security, and our moral authority.
For me, recognizing that I could no longer support the
president for whom I voted, and the occupation of a land we had invaded,
remains personally painful.
I have learned that while it is difficult to admit being
wrong, such recognition is a prerequisite for redemptive action, necessary both
for individual growth and for the healing of our nation.
It is in this spirit that I submit these reflections.
William Frey, M. D.
"Nations, like individuals, are punished for their
transgressions." -- Ulysses S. Grant
Heeding the admonitions of battle-hardened generals is
scarcely a strength of the Bush administration.
Dwight Eisenhower's presidential leadership was forged in
his experience as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during
WWII. Facing, in the dawn of the nuclear age, an arms race with the Soviet
Union, he cautioned:
"There is no way in which a country can satisfy the
craving for absolute security, but it can bankrupt itself morally and economically
in attempting to reach that illusory goal through arms alone."
In his farewell
address, Eisenhower was the first to describe and warn Americans of the
dangers he observed in the rapidly expanding military industrial complex,
"The total influence -- economic, political, even
spiritual -- is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the
federal government . . . The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced
power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination
endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for
granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper
meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our
peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper
Eisenhower's judicious leadership and balanced priorities,
despite a unified, nuclear-armed, and assertive Soviet Union, averted nuclear
catastrophe and preserved civil liberties.
In contrast, despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union,
the Bush regime, not content with America's current status as the world's sole
superpower, has adopted a
National Security Strategy which seeks American hegemony and total dominance,
entailing a military industrial complex far greater than any of which
Those familiar with the Project for the New American Century
(PNAC), whose founders include Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld among many who
went on to serve in the Bush administration, are familiar with their long
advocacy of increased reliance upon the assertion of American military force,
supported by an expanded worldwide network of permanent military bases.
Regarding the Middle East, the PNAC policy statement
published in 2000, "Rebuilding
America's Defenses," plainly stated the objective of an increased
military presence in the region as a reason for invading Iraq, "While the
unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need
for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of
the regime of Saddam Hussein."
An Administration Astray
"Conquest is not in our principles. It is
inconsistent with our government." -- Thomas Jefferson, Instructions to
These goals of total military dominance, pursued by
civilian, mostly non-combat-experienced, war-hawks, despite opposition and
warnings from many of our most experienced
generals, not only conflicts with American ideals, but is irreconcilable
with administration rhetoric. Indeed, President Bush and members of his
administration have taken precautions to dispel any notion that they have plans
for a permanent military presence in Iraq:
On April 13, 2004, President Bush said,
"As a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite
occupation and neither does America."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, testifying before the
Senate Armed Services Committee February 17, stated,
"We have no intention, at the present time, of putting permanent bases in
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Zadeh, said in an
interview on Iraqi television, August 15, "We are not seeking to
maintain permanent bases in Iraq."
But concrete speaks louder than words. In March 2004, the
Chicago Tribune reported the planned construction of 14
"enduring bases" in Iraq. By May 2005, the Washington Post
reported that plans called for consolidating American troops into four large,
more substantial facilities, designed to withstand direct mortar attacks,
centered around the airfields in Tallil in the south, Al Asad in the west,
Balad in the center and either Irbil or Qayyarah in the north. These were
Operating Bases" in February 2005. Funding for the first group of
redesigned barracks was included in the $82 billion supplemental war-spending
bill approved by Congress in May. Also included was funding for construction of
largest embassy, located on 104 acres with a staff of 1,020 and 500 guards.
This dissonance between President Bush's rhetoric of
democracy and self-governance and the reality of his actions has yet to be
Once again, we may find guidance in
Eisenhower's words, which are relevant not only to Iraq, but within our own
"We know that freedom cannot be served by the
devices of the tyrant. As it is an ancient truth that freedom cannot be
legislated into existence. . . . And any who act as if freedom's defenses are
to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien
"The problem in defense is how far you can go without
destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without."
Indeed, within America, in the name of defending our
freedom, we witness the ongoing and significant erosion of fundamental
civil liberties, and of the rule of law, erosions so egregious that it is
indeed difficult to comprehend their reality and future implications:
- We witness the administration concocting legal theories
to evade both the Geneva Conventions as well as American legal prohibitions of
torture. These legal theories have now expanded to include the remarkable
proposition that the president, as commander-in-chief, has the "inherent right"
to "set aside" American law. When the Senate requested the relevant
legal memos advocating this proposition that "The President is above the
law," we have witnessed the administration not only refuse congressional
access, but classify the legal memos so as to be inaccessible until 2013.
- Despite military leaders and Republican senators,
including former POW John McCain, cautioning that American observation of
Geneva Conventions prohibitions against torture have been vital to protecting
our own servicemen, we have seen the administration systematically oppose
congressional efforts to reinstate these prohibitions.
Of the consequence of loosening the prohibition against the
obtaining of confessions by torture, Patrick Henry said
in 1789, "We are then lost and undone."
The moral gymnastics a
patriotic American must perform to reconcile support for these positions with
long honored American traditions of justice grow greater with each subsequent
How has it come to this?
Framing the Issues
"No speech about homeland security or Iraq should
begin without a reference to 9/11 . . .
"If you describe it simply as a 'preemptive action,'
some Americans will carry deep reservations about the rightness of the cause.
Americans are conditioned to think that hitting first is usually wrong . . . By
far, the better word to use than 'preemption' is 'PREVENTION ' . . ." --
from GOP spinmeister Frank Luntz's June 2004 talking points
Even the corrosive influence of a coarsened public dialogue
dominated by personal invective and focus-group tested, predigested talking
points is not sufficient to blind observant Americans to the dissonance between
these actions and our values. The repercussions of perpetual war, unwanted
occupation of a foreign land, a reviled America abroad, and permanent erosions
of our liberties have rendered the rents in the fabric of our democracy all too
apparent. Rationalization for such egregious departures from our values can be
accomplished only with the generous use of denial and self-deception.
A predictable pattern has developed. Misguided policy --
most specifically, policy which convinces Iraqis
that we are intent upon permanent
occupation -- fuels
increasing insurgency. With each set back, President Bush has reacted by
rhetorically "upping the ante." Each escalation of rhetoric is
accompanied by increasingly strident claims that those taking exception to his
policies are "siding with the terrorists."
In his call to arms, "You are either with us or against
us," by paraphrasing the words of Christ from the twelfth chapter of
Mathew, President Bush appropriates the language of faith for the cause of
total and unquestioning support for administration war policy.
Such framing of the issues encourages a view of reality with
only two options: siding with an infallible, virtuous, freedom-spreading
America led by George Bush, ordained by God to democratize the world, or siding
"Upping the ante," as well as the redefining of
both patriotism and divine will so as to be in accord with administration
policy, solidifies our emotional commitment to the premise that every act of
war, every Fallujah, every death of a son or daughter, every "liberated"
Iraqi civilian who becomes "collateral damage," every new infringement upon
our civil liberties, is all for the greater good. By such a process, we may
find solace, avoid recognition of the actual horrors we have come to support,
and psychically deflect responsibility for the unintended, but predictable,
consequences of our actions.
When faced with facts that do not fit this worldview, a
"true believer" may resolve the cognitive dissonance by simple
confronted, on Hannity & Colmes, with the revelation that American hero
Tillman, killed while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, opposed what he
viewed as an illegal war in Iraq, Ann Coulter could only express disbelief.
Hannity agreed, "I don't believe it either . . . He signed up because of a
desire to fight." Coulter then incorrectly speculated that this must be a
fabrication of the media. The reality of a patriotic American who would give up
a lucrative sports contract to risk his life defending America in Afghanistan,
while simultaneously opposing the war in Iraq, appeared, to both Ann Coulter
and Sean Hannity, simply incomprehensible.
A "With us or against us" dichotomy forces
Americans to choose between blind support for misguided policy, or painful but
necessary patriotic dissent while simultaneously being unjustly maligned as
"siding with the enemy."
Like the courageous and patriotic Pat Tillman, many
Americans share a more nuanced view of the world, and are committed to proper
moral action. But rejecting a falsely polarized, overly simplified "Us or
Them" administration view may be painfully difficult for those patriotic
Americans who share a deep commitment to our values of liberty, but who also
feel a moral obligation to speak out to correct misguided policy inconsistent
with those values.
Breaking free from this false framing of reality requires
independent vision, intellectual honesty, and the courage to face painful
realities. Skillful control of the framing of issues has
been a significant factor in advancing the Bush/Rove agenda. Utilizing the
skillful linguistic and psychological cunning of Frank Luntz's talking points,
pre-digested prior to delivery to legions of surrogates in the media, the
Bush/Rove machine has mastered the art of issue framing and spin.
But just as the fabled unclad emperor learned, there are
limits beyond which a false version of reality cannot be sustained. There comes
a point at which the price at which believing the prevailing myths becomes too
Such is now the case on the ground in Iraq.
Voices of Reality
"The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth
among the wise." -- Proverbs 15:31
While President Bush emphatically rejects
the suggestion that "extremism has been strengthened by the actions of
our coalition in Iraq," senior military and intelligence officers report a
Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, tells the
Senate Intelligence Committee, "Our
policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment."
Director Porter Goss testifies, "Islamic
extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S.
George Casey, the most senior commander of coalition forces in Iraq, tells
a congressional panel that coalition forces "feed
the notion of occupation" and "fuels
John B. Abizaid of the U. S. Central Command testifies that it is critical
to "reduce our military footprint" in the region to "make clear to the
people . . . that we have no designs on their territory and resources."
Diamond, former advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq,
states, "Intense opposition to U.S. plans to establish long-term
military bases in Iraq is one of the most passionate motivations behind
the insurgency . . . There are many different strands to the violent
resistance that plagues Iraq: Islamist and secular, Sunni and Shiite,
Baathist and non-Baathist, Iraqi and foreign. The one thing that unites
these disparate elements is Iraqi (or broader pan-Arab) nationalism --
resistance to what they see as a long-term project for imperial domination
by the United States . . . Neutralizing
this anti-imperial passion -- by clearly stating that we do not intend to
remain in Iraq indefinitely -- is essential to winding down the insurgency."
Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a veteran of Vietnam, states, "We should start figuring
out how we get out of there . . . I think our involvement there has
destabilized the Middle East. And
the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."
But President Bush is undeterred by these patriotic voices
As with his threats to veto congressional attempts to
reinstate American bans on torture, the president rejects congressional action
to neutralize the greatest source of Iraqi resistance by committing to a policy
rejecting a permanent military presence in Iraq.
On a national level, the "moral bankruptcy"
of which Eisenhower warned may be reflected in a loss of American moral
authority. Not only may this be a factor in worldwide loss of esteem, but
it may provide passion and longevity to the widespread resistance to our leadership.
The most tragic moral consequences, however, accrue to those
who suppress their more noble instincts to blindly accept ill-fitting and
ever-changing rationales for policies that
conflict with our most cherished principles.
That this may be done out of a misdirected sense of patriotism or faith is of
Reclaiming the American Consensus
Emerging from moral bankruptcy requires that we properly
reframe the issues:
We must not surrender flag and faith to those who would use
both to support a war which honors neither.
To those who would attempt to silence Americans with the call
that "We must support our troops," we must meet squarely on the
issues: The troops are our sons, our daughters, our husbands, our wives. They
volunteered to defend our nation, not to pursue a hidden agenda of those who do
not honor our nation's values. We must never abuse their courage, their
patriotism, and their sacrifice.
To those who insist we must spread liberty: Our
founders established our nation as a beacon of liberty. We must never confuse
the defense of liberty with the pursuit of an agenda of domination that is
offensive to our democratic values and counterproductive to our security,
inflaming the passions and determination of those less powerful.
To those who exploit a
climate of fear to assert that we must now abridge fundamental liberties for
the sake of security, we must remind of the insights of wiser Americans,
"Any people that would give up liberty for a little
temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin
"Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest
thing we have." -- Harry Emerson Fosdick
"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it
will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." . . ."We are right
to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties." -- James
To those who claim that we who oppose the war in Iraq are
"un-American," we must confront with the truth that we who oppose the
occupation come from all points on the political spectrum -- Democrats,
Republicans, and independents, left, right and center -- and include the majority
of Americans. To those who persist in challenging our patriotism, we must
remind of the words of Theodore Roosevelt,
"To announce that there should be no criticism of the president, or that
we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, it is not only unpatriotic
and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American people."
The issues that unite the growing American "antiwar majority"
today are principles that since our founding have defined what it means to be
an American. So ingrained have these core American values become in our
national psyche that even those who seek entirely opposing goals routinely give
them rhetorical lip service:
Americans, with broad bipartisan support, have not only
embedded our unambiguous rejection
of torture into American law (establishing legal constraints which the Bush
administration is now determined to dismantle), but have for generations been
in the forefront of establishing such standards worldwide through treaties,
including the Geneva Conventions.
Similarly, previous generations of Americans -- left, right,
and center -- have been unified in the belief that not only is such conduct
essential for the safety of our own captured servicemen and women, but that any
nation which does not adhere to its own basic values (regardless of any
self-proclaimed virtue) would cease to possess the moral prerequisites for
Our present need for "the decent respect
for the opinions of mankind" is no less compelling than it was for our
founders. But the primary need for realigning our actions with our values is
not improved public relations. The most compelling need is, for the benefit of
our own society, to reaffirm moral constraints upon our actions, individual and
collective, without which the character of our nation will be diminished.
Accomplishing this can only be done by reframing the issues in
a manner which befits our American values.
This will be contentious. The unifying values implanted by
America's founders -- values of liberty, non-aggression, and antipathy to
authoritarian government -- have historically prevailed only despite significant
opposition from Americans with less honorable priorities. Indeed, the very
eloquence with which Jefferson, Madison, and other founders defended civil
liberties and warned repeatedly of the dangers of unrestrained executive power
and the pernicious consequences of war and empire is primarily because their
views were not universal. Their beliefs in liberty, defended by non-aggressive,
anti-imperial foreign policy, and the right of dissent have survived to become
the "common ground" of the American civic vision only after bitter
and divisive political battles. During such times these cherished principles --
now universally claimed (even those whose oppose the substance of their beliefs
claim them rhetorically as their own) and taken for granted -- have not
infrequently been severely threatened.
Today the rhetoric of this consensus American vision of
liberty and non-aggression remains unscathed. But the substance of the beliefs
of our founders (which constitutes the basic "common ground" of our
political compact) is under assault. Certainly no one overtly challenges our
commitment to "liberty" and "democracy." Yet we witness
proponents of "freedom" at home and abroad advocating perpetual
military occupation, rationalizing permanent detention of American citizens without charges or trial,
and those who claim to respect the "rule of law"
remaining silent while administration lawyers concoct methods for the president
to evade American legal prohibitions of torture and promote the legal theory
that the president has the "inherent authority"
to "set aside" American law.
How have conscientious and patriotic Americans come to
support policies so antithetical to our values?
can so many remain unmoved when all evidence shows our stated
justification for our first ever preemptive war is unsubstantiated?
can a self-proclaimed Christian, writing in his weekly column
in National Review, the "flagship
of the modern conservative movement," bemoan that our nation is
not willing " . . . to fight this war the
way it needs fighting, with grim ferocity and cold unconcern for
legalistic niceties? To lay waste great territories and their peoples,
innocent and guilty alike, to level cities, to burn forests and divert
rivers, to smite our enemies hip and thigh, to carry out summary execution
of captured leaders . . ."?
can anyone have their "faith renewed" by British police putting
the Noggin" of a suspected bomber?
can so many who profess "moral values" remain missing in action
as the president claims the right to
legitimize torture? How can they remain in denial even as Sen. Lindsey
Graham (R-SC), an Air Force colonel with congressional access to suppressed Abu Ghraib
evidence, reports, "The American public needs to understand we're
talking abou trape
and murder here. we're not just talking about giving people a humiliating
experience."? How can 20 million radio listeners a week applaud
as a mocking Rush Limbaugh maligns Sen. Graham as a "Republican in
Name Only" and shamelessly promotes "Abu Ghraib Day"
Most sobering is that these perverse sentiments do not
result solely, or even primarily, from the shameless exploitation of fear.
Rather, they arise as the unintended consequence of a worldview that derives
its strength from a direct appeal to and diversion of Americans' most honorable
Support for virtuous goals may mutate over time into support
for malignant policy. Many, perhaps most, who now tacitly support perpetual
occupation would never have supported such policy at the time of the invasion.
Many supporters of President Bush applauded his repeated past
assertions that any commitment of troops requires an "exit
strategy," and his rhetoric
opposing conquest, occupation, and "nation building." Congressional
Republicans cited similar convictions in opposing the war in the Balkans.
Support for misguided war policy evolves incrementally with
shifting justifications for the war. After support solidifies, the "goal
posts" may be moved to align with a prior hidden agenda.
Doubts as to the soundness of the policy or the propriety of its circuitous
implementation are deflected by appeals to patriotism. Ultimately, anesthetized
supporters may dismiss abhorrent consequences with such mantras as, "Bad
things happen in war."
Increasing casualties may paradoxically galvanize support as
it becomes ever more consequential to acknowledge error. Culpability is negated
by increasing commitment to the initial noble goals, and to the contention that
the policy befits those goals. Conflicting information eliciting cognitive
dissonance is met with increasing denial. Views calcify.
In this manner, good people may become inexorably committed
to malignant policy.
The noble values upon which such a flawed paradigm is based
both underscores the import of the proper framing of the issues, and
illustrates the formidable challenges of achieving constructive change.
Fear perversely augments this process. In a perilous world,
simplistic authoritarian measures that exploit an insatiate desire for security
become especially seductive.
Our present policies provide ample evidence of the perverse
outcomes of such an illusory quest for security. In Iraq, the pursuit of
"stabilization" by means of perpetual occupation is bearing instead
the fruit of endless war. And in America, the upward ratcheting of the
"national security state" in illusory pursuit of "safety"
can only deliver one assured result: the preemptive abdication of our individual
liberty and open society. Countless refugees from tyranny are witness that
authoritarian suppression is no guarantee of safety.
When Edmund Burke observed, "The people will only give
up their liberty under some delusion," he presciently foretold our current
paradox: a "freedom loving" people not only acquiescent to the
surrender of their liberty, but welcoming "Big Brother" in the
pursuit of the mirage of security.
Rejecting such beguiling but false promises requires more
than the courage to face uncertainty. Although authoritarian solutions are
counterproductive in securing liberty, a frenzy for safety may reward the
unscrupulous politician at the polls.
Reestablishing an American consensus for honest, reality-based
policy, one which pursues non-expansionist national defense while
protecting civil liberties, requires the integrity to refrain from short-sightedly
exploiting the twin passions of fear and hope.
But this is the challenge we must overcome if we are to
avoid endless war, and preserve for our children a free and open society.
This attainment will be difficult. The cult of empire is
propped up by a ubiquitous and effective spin machine.
Megastar media surrogates saturate the airways with their 24/7 presence. They
advance a creed of conquest that confuses strength to defend the nation with
the pursuit of world domination. Their message thrives on the demonization of
both foreign power and domestic dissent. While they peddle a creed that holds
in contempt both the actual exercise of liberty and the practice of authentic
faith, these false prophets cloak their message with a veneer of professed
moral and patriotic values. And they have infected our culture with their
audacious claim that their values reflect the values of America. The difficult
challenge of properly reframing these issues is amply illustrated by the 22
percent of Americans who state that they rely on talk
radio as their primary source of news.
But cracks are appearing in the ideological foundation
beneath this ahistoric and insupportable worldview of America as empire:
The moral blind spots displayed by those who profess respect
for the "rule of law" and "moral values" regarding a
president's "inherent right" to "set aside law" and
legitimize torture are symptoms of the "moral bankruptcy" of which
These blind spots reflect a void in the soul of America.
Filling this vacuum requires rejecting false idols, repairing a flawed
paradigm, and restoring a consensus based upon authentic American values. No
simple formula will address all issues. But the "common ground" to be
found in the still revolutionary vision of America's founders -- a vision
liberty, opposing wars of conquest,
protecting the rights of dissent,
limiting presidential powers, and
maintaining the moral high ground
with unambiguous rejection of any legitimate role for torture -- maintains its
power by virtue of its moral authority. This compelling vision provides
unifying objectives to America's growing antiwar majority.
Those supporting current policies will continue to use all
the resources of their propaganda machine to attempt to perpetuate their
distorted view of the role of power, of empire, and of America's role in the
world. And they will continue to appropriate the rhetoric of
"freedom" to promote policies which repudiate the substance of the
American vision of liberty.
We must reframe the terms of debate to reclaim America's
We cannot permit a war allegedly begun for the purpose of
disarming a tyrant to be used to justify the permanent unwanted occupation of a
We must never enable the rhetoric of patriotism and faith to
support a policy of domination pursued through deception.
Nor the rhetoric of fear to blind us to the dismantling of the
legal framework of our freedoms.
We can no longer tolerate business-as-usual politicians in
either party who will not act to reassert historic constitutional restraints on
executive power, end a misguided war, and repel the perilous assault
Effective action requires that we first overcome our own
We cannot absolve ourselves from responsibility by pointing
to our cowardly media.
John Locke, intellectual mentor to America's founders,
stated in his Essay on Human Understanding in 1689 "It is vain to find
fault with the arts of deceiving, wherein men find pleasure to be
Overcoming this human frailty remains a formidable
The False Comfort of Self-Deception
Many besides myself can attest to the difficulties
associated with effecting genuine personal change. Denial remains a potent
disincentive to change precisely because of the compelling subjective benefits
it affords. These transient emotional comforts can present a formidable barrier
both to personal growth as well as to the correction of a dysfunctional
For many reasons it may be problematic to move beyond the
illusory comforts of denial to experience the uncertainties of reality.
is much easier on our moral sensibilities to believe we invaded for the
noble cause of disarming an outlaw than to face the shameful truth that
the rationale we used for our first ever preemptive war was based on false
evidence for weapons is lacking, it is much more gratifying to believe we
are on a mission to democratize grateful oppressed peoples than to grapple
with the unpleasant understanding that they regard us as unwelcome occupiers.
is less depressing to imagine we are stabilizing a volatile region than fueling
and hardening hatred.
is less disconcerting to delude ourselves with the belief that our leaders
are on a mission to liberate all humanity than to comprehend that, in a
climate of fear, the legal infrastructure protecting our own liberties is
being systematically and permanently dismantled.
is more reassuring to believe in the truthfulness of our president, than
to grasp the fact that while he continues to claim no intent
for permanent occupation, permanent
base construction continues unabated.
is more tempting to seek solace in the "With Us or Against Us"
simplicity of George W. Bush, disregarding inconvenient facts and unintended
consequences, than to heed the wise and more nuanced counsel of Generals George
McPeak, or Dwight Eisenhower.
is far more comforting to believe that the Iraq war has been sanctioned by
God than to recognize that fallible human leaders have dishonesty abused
the rhetoric of
patriotism and faith to advance
policies that dishonor our values.
is more consoling to entertain the myth that our soldiers will be there
"as long as they need to be, and not one day longer," than to
awaken to the terrible truth that those who peddled this war to
Americans as a focused military action, necessary for disarming of a
tyrant, have no intention of American troops ever departing from Iraq,
regardless of Iraqi wishes, and contrary to administration rhetoric
of Iraqi democracy,
But the price of continued denial is too great. The
realities on the ground in Iraq, of which Gen. Casey tells us, cannot be
changed by wishful thinking. Occupation of foreign lands incites resistance.
And in our own land, as James Madison observed, "No nation can preserve
its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
Blind adherence to the false conceits of those whose quest
is world domination can lead only to continued erosion of our moral authority,
our esteem and influence abroad, and damage to our freedoms and democracy at
In the eloquent prose of the King James translation, the
author of Proverbs tells us, "Pride goeth before destruction, and a
haughty spirit before a fall."
The solace to be found in self-deception is impermanent.
A true solace, one more substantial than that afforded by
the denial of reality, may be more profitably sought in constructive action.
Thomas Jefferson told us, "All tyranny needs to gain a
foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
Patriotic Americans can no longer afford the hollow comforts
of blind self-deception, nor the transient respite of continued silence.
William Frey, M.D. has
practiced medicine for 26 years. He is a founding member of Republicans for Humility,
which advocates the return to the unifying American values of humble foreign
policy, constitutional government, and respect for individual liberties, and
stands in opposition to the recent dominance within the Republican Party of
policies favoring unilateral military expansion, empire, and the accompanying
erosion of civil liberties. He has authored A Time for Moral
Tragedy of a Complicit Media, and other essays.Visit his website.