IRAQ AND THE CONSERVATIVE DIVIDE
By Chip McLean
September 2, 2007
Everyone seems to agree that we as a nation have become increasingly polarized. Any semblance of meaningful dialogue on virtually any issue, has seemingly faded into a distant memory. Nowhere is this more evident than the cacophony of conflicting opinions over Iraq.
Why is it so difficult for Americans to discuss Iraq? The simple answer is that it is an emotionally charged issue, but what is unique about the political dynamics of Iraq is that the usual delineation between “conservatives” and “liberals” doesn’t necessarily apply. The fact is that there are a large number of conservatives who either oppose the war, or at the very least harbor reservations about aspects of its prosecution - albeit for very different reasons than most liberals.
For those of us on the right who believe the U.S. Constitution means exactly what it says, every “war” fought since the conclusion of World War II has been unconstitutional. Wars in Korea, Viet Nam, Bosnia, and of course Iraq were never “declared” as spelled out by our nation’s founders. President Bush is just the latest president to involve us in what amounts to a police action, or in this case, a “pre-emptive” war.
There are those of us on the right who questioned the timing of going into Iraq. Considering the fact that there were other potential threats to peace in the region such as Syria and Iran, was this the right war at the right time? We were also still trying to stabilize Afghanistan after routing the Taliban, not to mention continuing our search for Osama bin Laden (remember him?) To this day we still haven’t captured or killed bin Laden and the Taliban have gradually reacquired a strong foothold in Afghanistan, so one is forced to at least consider the possibility that we should have remained focused there, rather than expanding into Iraq. It also raises the specter of our military being spread too thin at a precarious time in our nation’s history.
There are those of us who questioned the wisdom of allowing a civilian like Donald Rumsfeld to determine our Iraq strategy, rather than listening to those in the military. Rumsfeld’s belief that 130,000 ground troops would be of sufficient strength to secure Iraq after toppling Saddam Hussein has proven to be a mistake of horrendous proportions. Was the former Secretary of State really this naïve concerning Iraq? As despicable as Saddam was, he was the only thing keeping radical Islam and all of the other rival factions in check within his borders. Deposing a tyrant leaves a void that must be filled with something of at least equal strength if one intends to achieve any sort of stability. We did not possess adequate troop strength, nor did we assert the kind of control needed to stabilize Iraq after taking Baghdad. The Bush Administration finally reached that conclusion as well, as evidenced by their decision this year to implement the “surge.” The problem of course is that the surge should have taken place when we invaded Iraq in the first place, not four years later. Unfortunately, the “surge” window of opportunity may have passed long ago, given the mixed reports of its effectiveness.
Finally, many of us believe that our troops have been hampered by a very unhealthy dose of political correctness. In the course of our operations in Iraq, we have become far too concerned with how we are perceived by others as opposed to getting actual results. We have forgotten that the military’s job is to blow up things and kill the enemy, not to engage in nation building - something that George W. Bush said he was adamantly opposed to when he campaigned for his first term as president. Nation building is a concept he has since seemingly embraced, along with “spreading democracy” throughout the region – despite the fact that most of its people are politically stuck in about the seventh century, and about as ready for “democracy” as Mike Tyson is for nuclear physics.
The point I’m making here is that there are many valid reasons from a conservative perspective, to question our involvement in Iraq. The problem is that there are some conservatives who have knee-jerk reactions to any questioning of Iraq policy, even when coming from their fellow travelers on the right. This is quite evident with some of the recent attacks I have seen on Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Yes, it’s true that he is more “libertarian” than most conservatives, but the Texas congressman is really more of a “constitutionalist.” He certainly parts company with the “Big L” libertarians with his pro-life and anti-illegal immigration stances. The fact is that Ron Paul sees the constitution as the basis from which our government should operate, and despite the claims of some, he has consistently voted down more unconstitutional spending than perhaps any other member of Congress. I don’t always agree with his interpretations, but I can’t help but admire his principles.
So why the knee-jerk reactions from some on the right? Much of it, I think, has to do with the loony left in this country. The fact is that there are many on the left who truly do loathe our military and possess a virulent hatred of America. People like Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore, organizations like Code Pink and others of their ilk consistently say such vile, stupid things that it becomes easy to fall into the trap of dismissing all those with reservations about Iraq as being like them. I know that I personally feel my blood boil when some Hollyweird moron like Tim Robbins claims that our troops have killed over 400,000 Iraqi citizens (absolutely false), as he did recently on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. Dolts like Robbins, along with other “entertainers” such as Rosie O’Donnell (who wouldn’t recognize a fact if it bit her on her gargantuan derriere), understandably incite anger in patriotic Americans. Unfortunately, as a result, some feel the need to try to cut off intelligent discussion over Iraq policy, by lumping all opposing viewpoints together. Those who equate Ron Paul, or other “anti-war” thinkers like Pat Buchanan with Code Pink could not be further from the truth.
Conservatives of all stripes (and for that matter, the more reasonable of liberals) have nothing but respect for our troops and our nation. Despite what some may claim, it is possible to support our troops, and at the same time not believe invading Iraq was in our best interest. I urge those who support “staying the course” at all costs, to consider at least listening to other conservatives who don’t share that belief. They just may re-discover their conservative roots.
© 2007 Chip McLean - All Rights Reserved
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Chip McLean is the editor/publisher for Capitol Hill Coffee House. Chip is a former broadcaster.
His interest in politics began at the age of eight, when his parents took him to a Barry Goldwater rally during the 1964 presidential election. In addition to his work at CHCH, Chip's columns have appeared in a number of online conservative publications.
Finally, many of us believe that our troops have been hampered by a very unhealthy dose of political correctness. In the course of our operations in Iraq, we have become far too concerned with how we are perceived by others as opposed to getting actual results.