Picking Your Battles

Figuring out military strategy is never easy.  But it’s a particular pain when you’re trying to make heads or tails out of the typical liberal solution to unrest in international hot spots.

A case in point:  Iraq vs. Darfur.  While these countries are not fighting each other, a number of liberal activists would have you believe that U.S. involvement in Iraq is siphoning much-needed American troops away from Darfur.  Here’s the typical scenario:  A liberal talk show host attacks the Bush Administration for daring to venture into Iraq and attempting to establish the rule of democracy there.  Yet, in the next breath, he rebukes the U.S. for not providing military assistance to Darfur.  It’s really a "Clinton-esque" way of viewing the world:  Let’s not use the military for, say, customary military operations, but for non-military undertakings that help us soothe our guilty consciences.

If the United Nations has failed the people of Iraq, it stands to reason that the disordered league of nations will also shortchange the people of Darfur.  When the world police refuse to do their job, international activists come running to Uncle Sam.  And then, some of our own citizens attack the very efforts that are designed to bring stability and order to a given nation.  The New York Times, for instance, is always quick to judge a U.S. military effort as short-sighted and dangerous, just because the man who ordered it happened to be of the Republican persuasion.  Failed Presidential candidates, such as U.S. Senator John Kerry, are also quick to board the blame-America-first bandwagon.

We will remain a fractured nation until such hypocrisy ends.  It’s easy to criticize the Bush Administrations policy in Iraq when the major media are deliberately hiding a number of major successes there.  The reconstruction effort in the one-time kingdom of the brutal Saddam Hussein may be slower than hoped, but progress has been made.  Aren’t most difficult ventures slow and laborious?    Doesn’t any undertaking that’s truly worthwhile require extensive effort?

As Vice President Dick Cheney has been quoted as saying, the U.S. has recorded "enormous successes" in Iraq, but the media and other critics "are so eager to write off this effort or declare it a failure" that they are hurting our own troops, endangering them in a war zone.

Granted, the war in Iraq has not yet been won.  But I wonder if the Bush Administration caved into demands to launch an offensive in Darfur, would liberals also be calling for a full-scale withdrawal of troops, only a short time after we had committed them?

Don’t get me wrong — the fact that the people of Darfur are suffering is call for alarm.  No one should have to live with the constant threats of murder, torture, and eviction from their homes.   But it makes little sense to go forward with a large-scale commitment of U.S. troops when support for troops in other troubled areas of the world is sorely lacking.

In a different time, those who engaged in political posturing during a time of war, threatening the safety of our troops, would be labeled as traitors.  

Perhaps it’s time to reassess where our freedoms end and our responsibilities begin. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are to be cherished.  But we also have a responsibility to the men and women who put their lives on the line for their country — whether that’s in Iraq or anywhere else that the fight against terror leads us.