Healthy Criticism

Currently, there are very few issues more portentous and divisive in America than the war in Iraq. At present, the most important matter on the table is our current direction in Iraq.

Some, including myself, cannot foresee the current problems in Iraq being solved militarily and support a gradual, tactical withdrawal of troops from the region. Others still see hope in a military solution, and support president Bush’s recent plan to include an additional 21,500 troops in Iraq to ensure security and stabilize what is clearly a deteriorating situation.

These disagreements are only natural in a republic like the United States, which allows free speech and open debate…or maybe not.

With the newly Democratic Congress, along with several moderate Republicans, challenging the president’s plan for additional troops, the Bush administration and many other conservatives have argued that opposition to the president’s plan in this time of war undermines the president’s authority as commander-in-chief and emboldens the enemy.

This claim is more than a subtle implication: it is tantamount to declaring a moratorium on open dialogue which may contain arguments that oppose the Bush administration’s policy.

Since when are we not allowed to speak our minds?

Open dialogue and free speech is an essential part of what makes our country great, and the White House and many other conservatives are trying to undermine that very fabric of our free society.

Who knows how much longer and how many more Americans would have died in Vietnam if it was not for the vociferous opposition of those in the anti-war crowd. And how in the world can the American people buy into the idea of bipartisanship when our current administration and its apologists in Congress admonish those who disagree with them for subverting their own country?

All Americans have the right to state their opinion on the war, and are in no way endangering the United States by “emboldening” the enemy or “undermining” the military. As someone against the troop buildup, I fully respect the right of those in support of it to have their own opinions and divulge them publicly.

Those who oppose the buildup are not being subversive; rather, they are using their observations about the war to draw rational conclusions and solutions which they believe would be in the best interest of their country.

Perhaps President John F. Kennedy stated this idea best when he said, “With-out debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed – and no republic can survive.” Apparently, none of this is of much concern to our administration.