This I Believe

Vincent - Westerville, Ohio
Entered on January 13, 2007

The Emperors New Clothes (Revisited)

In the Hans Christian Anderson fable, the Emperor is fooled into wearing cloth made of threads so fine that the cloth is invisible to anyone “too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its quality” as described by the tailors perpetrating the scam. The Emperor, too vain to admit to the wily tailors he couldn’t see the cloth, agreed to wear his new clothes in public. All his subjects, also afraid to admit the truth, proclaimed the fine workmanship of his robes even though the Emperor was in his skivvies. It finally took an innocent boy to decry “the Emperor has no clothes”.

The Iraq Study Group could hardly be defined as innocent. The ten person bipartisan panel (known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission) was appointed to asses the war in Iraq and make policy recommendations. Not unlike the boy in the fable, they have opened our eyes to what we knew in our hearts and minds to be true: The absolute failure of the Bush policy in Iraq.

Let me say as a registered Republican, I voted for Bush, twice, and I supported his decision to go in based on what we thought we knew at the time, as did many Americans, democrats and republicans. But his strength in practice has not matched his strength in principal and the management of the war has been one disaster after another.

If you don’t have children, aren’t of military age, aren’t related to anyone of military age, or know of anyone in the military – what should happen in Iraq from this point really is not about you. It’s about personal sacrifice.

Those of us having been of military age during the Vietnam era, know the experience of possibly giving all or part of your life to your country. I didn’t like it. The losses were unthinkable. And when I think about it, was it worth it? No. The dire circumstances of communism we were warned about in Vietnam, supported by Red China that cost the lives of 58,000 did not come to pass. Not to say those boys passed or suffered in vein, no. They did what was asked of them, and for that they are all heroes.

I am a citizen of this country and dedicated to its survival. I would do what is asked of me in its defense. When a leader is elected in this country, he or she is given the power to make decisions for the overall good as they see fit within the constraints of our government. And in defense of this nation, through the faith in our leaders, we should do what is asked of us, period.

As a father, I would not send my son to Iraq. I would not have sent him to Vietnam. Hell, I would not have voluntarily sent him to Germany in WWII. I did not raise him to die in a foreign battlefield whether it’s the streets of Baghdad by the hands of insurgents, in the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta by the Viet Cong or the even shores of Normandy by the Nazis. If you asked my son his thoughts, he would say “I will do what is asked of me”. Sound familiar?

Unlike earlier confrontations, this Army is volunteer, not conscripted. This does not make the losses any easier. And the issue here is loss. These losses have a cost and take their toll on us as individuals, families, communities and as a nation. Every loss takes its toll, and it is up to our leaders to gauge those tolls and when the toll surpasses the value, it’s time to get out.

Simply put, there is no blank check of human life. Unlike the federal budget, we can’t just print up some more money to make up for the losses. Whatever the reasons were that brought us there, the question today is “Should we stay?” The answer is no. The costs are too precious.

The President has recently called for a “surge” of 22,000 troops as a new strategy to quell the violence, bringing the total amount of American souls at stake for Iraqi freedom to 150,000. It seems to me all we would be doing is providing 22,000 more targets. This seems more of a political solution as opposed to a new strategy designed to the end the conflict and save lives.

In defense of our nation and for its overall good, enough is enough, right or wrong, bring them home.

The fable ends this way …

“The Emperor realized that the people were right but could not admit to that. He thought it better to continue the procession under the illusion that anyone who couldn’t see his clothes was either stupid or incompetent. And he stood stiffly on his carriage, while behind him a page held his imaginary mantle.”

I didn’t know Cheney and Rummy could sew.

Oh, by the way, the communist country of Viet Nam was admitted to the World Trade Organization this past week.