Saturday, January 13, 2007

But what about the children?

Sen. Barbara Boxer says she wasn't taking a dig at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for being childless; rather, she was pointing out that like the senator herself, Rice has no family members in the military, and thus doesn't appreciate the personal toll that Iraq War is taking on military families:

Senator Boxer read excerpts from a radio interview with an American family that lost a son in Iraq. “You can’t begin to imagine how you celebrate any holiday or birthday,” Ms. Boxer said. “There’s an absence. It’s not like the person’s never been there. They always were there and now they’re not and you’re looking at an empty hole.”

It's no doubt true that unless you have a loved one in the military, you don't what it's like to watch them go off to war, nor what it is like if they don't come back. Every kind of loss is different, and any kind of grief you've experienced is no doubt unlike what someone else has, and vice versa.

But is that any kind of basis for setting foreign policy? Don't get me wrong; I feel the same way about the war as Barbara Boxer. But a person's right to agree or disagree with the president's policy should not be diminished by the fact that they have no relatives in uniform, any more than the opinions of those with children or other relatives in uniform should count for more than those who don't.

I'm reminded of the pointless criticism of the president for waging a war in which his own daughters will not have to fight. Would you be more in favor of the war if the president's daughters were patrolling Baghdad right now? Perhaps you think he would not have gone to war in the first place were his daughters in the military, or subject to a draft. Somehow I don't think it would have changed matters much. After all, not every parent of a child lost in Iraq feels the same way as Cindy Sheehan.

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6 Comments:

Blogger two_dishes said...

When I look at her original comment, I see no implication of an empty womb.

3:21 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I take the senator at her word. I just don't think what she said is a rational basis for criticizing a military action.

7:36 PM

 
Blogger EdHeath said...

Well, the President and Congress are policy makers, making strategic rather than tactical decisions. Presumably they would have no specific control over whether their offspring were sent into harm's way.
I don't know what the Senator's criticism was in this specific case, but I think there is a general arguement that this war has been one of the elites sending the poor to fight. The President likes to talk about the volunteer army, but from the behavior of the children of the administration and Congress, doing your duty is something people with few other choices do. I think it is part of the same republican spirit that fights every policy that tries to reduce the level of income disparity in the country, because those policies "hurt the economy". Well, they hurt the economy of super-rich Bush supporters.
I think Senator Boxer was getting at the notion that we are not sacrificing for this war on terror, something even tonight on the News Hour the Presdient said he would not ask the American people to do. He wants us to have energy independence, but not ifit is uncomgfortable or bothers the oil companies.
Maybe if the sons and daughters of the President and Congress were in the miltiary, maybe we still would hav gone to Iraq, and conducted a lean, mean military campaign (it worked). But maybe the occupation would have embraced the Powell doctrine and the lesson of Czechoslovokia 1968, and had twice as many troops. And maybe we would have actually rebuilt Iraq fast. In other words, maybe having loved ones there would make policy makers want to do it right.

12:08 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

You raise some good points. As far as the military goes, we're seeing the consequences of having an all-volunteer force. I'm guessing that a majority of the members of Congress never served in uniform. Many people over the last few years have discussed the consequences--none good--of a growing rift between military and civilian culture. The only solution would seem to be a draft, and Charlie Rangel aside, I don't see much widespread support for it.

I agree that after Sept. 11, the president missed a great opportunity to ask Americans to change how they live their lives. Instead, he told them to go shopping.

6:43 PM

 
Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

the real point is not lean armies in iraq or rebuilding fast enough. here's why, it's an unnecessary war. always was. it's like saying if i had only used six people to rob my neighbor's house instead of three, i might have got caught because i had to make so many trips in and out. get the point?

as for rebuilding the place fast enough...was this really a humanitarian mission? was the administration really concerned about iraq's electrical grid outside of baghdad?

give me a fucking break.

as for bush asking americans to sacrifice...that's funny. for what? how? i watched an inconvenient truth this weekend. a few scenes after al gore says that the one way everyone can help stop global warming is to reduce your carbon emissions. a few minutes later, he leaves his home, with his computer on and every light you can see in the frame. and they didn't look like low wattage fluorescent bulbs.

way to practice what you preach, al.

laugh if you want. I get around more than ever on my bike. I keep my thermostat at 60 during the day (55 at night. i sleep with a harem to keep warm). and i throw non-meat garbage into the woods for the birds, squirrels, and other creatures to feast on. it may not be much. but i'm trying.

3:32 AM

 
Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

damn, i meant to say i "might not have got caught" in the previous post.

3:33 AM

 

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