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Jewish World Review June 27, 2005 / 20 Sivan,
The limits of dissent
No country can win a conflict the way the USA is fighting the
war on terror. Every move the Bush administration makes is scrutinized,
criticized and roundly chastised by dissenters who firmly believe the
president, himself, is responsible for much of the anti-American hatred
around the world. The chorus is deafening. Bush "lied" about Iraq. Bush is
violating civil liberties by supporting the Patriot Act. The president
sanctions torture and is a major human rights violator. Every day there is
another page one story telling Americans we are the
The dissenters claim that what they're doing is patriotic, that
they love America and just want to improve it. They claim that loyal dissent
is one of the finest traditions of democracy.
But there is a difference between dissenting from a war and
trying to undermine a war, which is clearly what some Americans are doing.
Sen. Richard Durbin's recent comments comparing a few rough interrogations
at Guantanamo Bay to what the Soviets and Nazis did was No. 1 with a bullet
on Al Jazeera. That anti-American network couldn't get enough of Dick
Durbin. For days his opinion echoed through the Arab world inflaming even
more hatred toward the USA.
Like Jane Fonda, Durbin claimed he was just trying to stop an
immoral policy. But that argument is hollow in the face of the facts. More
than 68,000 interrogations have taken place since 9/11, and the alleged
abuses number in the hundreds. The Pentagon says it is actively prosecuting
valid cases of abuse, and, in a time of war, it might be wise to give the
U.S. military the benefit of the doubt.
During World War II, widely considered the last "good" war,
there was tight government control of information. No pictures of dead
American soldiers were released to the public until 1943, two years after
the conflict began. The Office of War Information made it quite clear to the
press that any intentional undermining of the conflict would be punished.
Even Hollywood scripts and newsreels were vetted. The U.S. government
strictly censored what Americans saw and heard about the war even where
atrocities were concerned.
After German SS troops massacred 86 American soldiers at Malmedy
in Belgium on Dec. 17, 1944, some units like the U.S. 11th Armored Division
took revenge on captured German soldiers. In the Pacific, relatively few
Japanese prisoners were taken in the brutal island fights. But the folks
back home never heard about those things or what techniques were used to
interrogate prisoners who might know where the next ambush would be. The
American military did what they had to do in order to win. As General Patton
once said to his army: "I do not advocate standing Germans up against the
wall and shooting them so shoot the sons of b before you get them
to the wall."
It is true that the United States must stand above the Huns. We
must not stoop to torturing detainees or committing battlefield atrocities.
But mistakes happen in all wars, and we are now fighting an invisible enemy.
They wear no uniforms, they obey no rules of engagement.
It is time for Americans to decide exactly who is looking out
for them. The government and military, both of which are trying to defeat
vicious killers, or those who are on a jihad to undermine the war on terror
in the name of patriotism? The battle lines are clearly drawn. Which side
are you on?
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