It’s no secret that I am against the war in Iraq. I have been since the beginning and my opinion has not changed. It fact, it has been reinforced. It is also no secret that I am, and always have been, an ardent supporter of the brave men and women who serve this country. Contrary to what the neo-cons would have us believe, the two positions are not mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite - it is because I support the members of the Armed Forces that I want them out of Iraq - now. This little pet project of the Bush-Cheney machine (or is it Cheney-Bush?) has proven to be an unmitigated disaster on so many levels, the most profound of which is the senseless loss of so many lives.
In the past year, I have also written about another of Bush’s “accomplishments,” the No Child Left Behind Act. I’m not going to go into all of the intricacies of the Federal government meddling in the states’ affairs again, save one. Part of NCLB requires high schools to provide student information to military recruiters. Well, they don’t actually have to - the Feds cannot force the states to do anything of the kind, but they can withhold NCLB monies (another rant I won’t get into today. Hint: What money? The act is seriously under funded…). Regardless, my problem with the whole idea is that recruiters were given access to my son without my knowledge or prior approval. His options, whether it is to join the military or otherwise, are ours to discuss - I resent my government undercutting my parental influence.
But all that is history now. My (youngest) son has graduated high school; he is a legal adult, making adult decisions. Although Bush, Cheney and the entire neo-con machine had my attention and my ire for some time, that too, is nearly history - I can’t wait to see how historians document these past eight years. The very idea that questioning my country’s leadership makes me less than “a real American” is laughable. Patriotism has nothing to do with blindly following our leaders’ lies and everything to do with speaking out against their follies. I can support our military men and women in Iraq without supporting the idiot who sent them there. Period.
But there is change in the wind. It doesn’t mean the world will be less dangerous overnight and it doesn’t mean fanatics of all sort will not try to kill in the name of whatever the cause of the day is. It just means hope. Hope that we can again establish more than just a military or police authority in the world - Bush didn’t create that, we already had it - but a moral authority as well. It is hope that we will use our might wisely and not needlessly risk the lives of those serving to keep us free. It is hope that the world will become a better place from intelligent, open-minded leadership. I hope that we have turned the corner.
I am glad those recruiters were not able to influence my son to do something we had not discussed. Not because I am fearful for his safety if he enlists - I am. Not because I am against the military - I am not. And not because I somehow believe that I get to dictate this young adult’s direction in life - I don’t. But because we have a relationship today that is based on mutual respect, he seeks my opinion. And he is thinking about enlisting in the Army or Navy. It came from him, not my government and he came to me with it, not the recruiter. We are talking about it - I have no intention of talking him out of it. But we will speak of the reality of what his proposal entails. Not just the bad stuff, but the benefits as well - there are many.
I just don’t want him fighting Bush’s war… and I am hopeful that will soon be over.