Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Editorial: Patriotism is not blind and docile
Despite flag-waving partisans, love of country requires Americans to speak up in wartime when a president repeatedly commits grievous errors.
From the RoundTable blog
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So simple, yes. Also so cynical and dangerous. While Bush partisans appeal for "patriotic" passivity from the public, the political opposition and the media - supposedly for the nation's or the troops' sake - the administration continues to commit an astounding series of ideologically driven, self-destructive and frequently deadly blunders in Iraq and elsewhere.
In the best of times, quiet acquiescence to bad governance is never a patriotic response. Under these circumstances, it's practically disloyal. The administration needs pressure from the nation to finally get Iraq right.
At the same time, many of the people seeking cover behind Americans' love of country practice the most vindictive, petty, un-American pressure politics.
• Scientists face investigation if their research findings conflict with legislators' desires.
• Baseball owners are threatened with congressional retribution if Democratic financier George Soros is allowed to buy a share of the Washington Nationals.
• Generals, intelligence agents, diplomats and even Republican members of Congress have faced professional or political ruin for criticism or deviation from the White House or party line.
The most compelling argument for the patriotism inherent in criticism is this: If the administration had heeded some of its critics, the nation could be in far better shape in Iraq and the fight against terrorism.
Those who pressed for continued weapons inspections would have prevented an invasion based on dubious and manipulated intelligence. America might not have sacrificed 1,700 of its troops, drained its military resources and racked up a bill now more than $200 billion and climbing. It might not have neglected Afghanistan and failed in its hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Those who pressed for enough troops to secure Iraq might have prevented the chaos, looting and ever-bloodier insurgency. Those who wanted pragmatism to outweigh ideology in the creation of a new government might have fostered a more inclusive, effective political process.
Their criticism would have served America's best interests - surely a most patriotic result.