Those rallying behind Bush’s war in Iraq say that it is impossible to support the troops without supporting the war itself. They also tend to lump everyone opposing this war - both conservatives and liberals - into a single, anti-American, unpatriotic group.
Consider the following remarks made by Rush Limbaugh during his radio program on June 1:
The fact of the matter is, when people on the left say, “We support the troops. We oppose the war,” they are trying to camouflage the fact that they’re anti-military. They are all anti-military. It’s a defining characteristic of the left. ... You can’t sit there and say, “I support the troops, but I don’t think they should be sent to war. I support the troops, but I don’t want them getting hurt.” Well, hell, if you want to have troops that don’t get hurt, don’t have troops. The purpose of troops is to kill people and break things, and if you don’t support that, you don’t support the troops. Nice try, but BS.
Notice how all who oppose the war are considered part of “the left.” The caller to whom Limbaugh was responding never used the words “left,” “right,” “Democrat,” “Republican,” “liberal” or “conservative.”
Naturally, most of Rush’s listeners agreed with him. Jesse, a soldier calling in from North Carolina, had this to say:
You could sit here and you say you support the soldiers, but if you’re sitting here and saying you don’t support the president, you don’t support the administration, then I got news for you: you’re not supporting us. I can speak for quite a few people, especially in my own unit, that we all believe in what we’re doing, and, you know, it’s our duty to do so, and when our country calls it’s our duty to answer to it. Wherever they send us, whatever we do, we’re going to do it, get the job done and that’s just the bottom line and we’re all very proud of what we do.
There you have it. If you are critical of the president’s war in Iraq, it is impossible for you to support the troops. The funny thing is that the righteous rhetoric coming from so-called “conservatives” betrays their hypocrisy. For example, prominent figures on the right were bitterly opposed to Bill Clinton’s actions as commander in chief of the armed forces - and they were hardly shy about it.
On the May 13, 1999, edition of “The Crier Report,” Joe Scarborough was extremely critical of U.S. military action in the Balkans:
The reason why we didn’t achieve our goals during Vietnam are the same reasons we won’t achieve our goals [in Kosovo], and it’s because they’re not clearly focused and they’re not based on good strategic decisions. ... This is a remarkably undisciplined action. ... NATO, after being around for 50 years, has taken the radical, extreme, and I think very dangerous step of going from being a defensive alliance to becoming an offensive alliance.
Sean Hannity, addressing New York Congressman Joseph Dioguardi on “Hannity and Colmes” on March 23, 1999, asked, “Would you go fight over there? And how do you explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why did their son or daughter give up their life?”
Radio talk show host and author Michael Savage, in a November 30, 1999, column for NewsMax.com, detailed his position on the Balkan conflict:
Kosovo was about oil and nothing but oil, with maybe some uranium thrown in and a dash of ‘wag-the-dog.’ And you thought it was to save the poor Kosovar Albanians. ... Big Oil required a pipeline through Kosovo and the poor Serbs just happened to own the wrong real estate at the wrong time.
... During the shameful and cowardly NATO bombing of the historic bridges across the Danube River, the mouthpieces of the Government-Media complex ceaselessly propagandized. Jamie Shea, the English soccer thug; James Rubin, Mad Half-Bright’s Stooge; Solana, the Spanish socialist; an unnamed Luftwaffe general; and others continued the Big Lie. They were bombing Serbian civilians (hospitals, schools, trains, powerplants, apartments, orphanages) to save Albanians!
They were also destroying Kosovo to save it. These international war criminals were led by General Wesley Clark (a Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas) who clicked his shiny heels for the commander-in-grief, Bill Clinton (another Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas).
Even high-ranking Republicans in Congress voiced their dissent. House Majority Leader Dick Armey said that troop deployment to Kosovo was “poorly considered and unlikely to achieve our desired ends.” House Majority Whip Tom Delay said it was “just another bad idea in a foreign policy without a focus.”
Why weren’t these men accused of demoralizing U.S. troops in the Balkans? Why weren’t anti-American charges leveled against them? If the military deserves our undying, patriotic support in every undertaking, what difference does it make who’s giving the orders?
Not surprisingly, the defenders of the Bush Doctrine will quickly point out that the most ardent supporters of Clinton’s war in Kosovo are now the harshest critics of the current war in Iraq. Yes, that is hypocritical on their part - but hypocrisy is by no means a stranger to “conservatives.”
June 7, 2004
Lee Shelton resides with his wife in Minneapolis, Minn., and is the founder and editor of EverVigilant.net. He is a self-described “paleoconservatarian”— someone adhering to the founding conservative and libertarian principles that built this nation of states—and hopes to return to the days when government was small and elected officials actually sought to protect the inalienable, God-given rights of the American people. Lee is currently working on a book that addresses a wide range of controversial issues affecting American politics today: from airport security to abortion, from the Supreme Court to Southern heritage. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.