We Unhappy Few

Okay, I’m going to break my vow of silence on things political for a moment. I wrote this a while ago, but it’s still very relevant…


I’m the only one I personally know who wants to win the war in Iraq.

What of us, we band of brothers, we unhappy few who do support this war? Who find it repellent, as all wars are, but also recognize the clear and present danger Iraq still presents in one of the world’s most volatile regions? Our opinions are discounted. The debate, according to my Gen-X peers, is over, and we have already lost.

If this attitude wins, we have already lost.

The number of war supporters has shrunk dramatically as too many Americans press the snooze button on the terrorism alarm. For the remaining supporters, it’s now a world of whispers and long silences when people ask us our opinion — nobody really wants it. At social functions, I clam up so self-consciously that it’s almost physically painful. I don’t want to get up on the stump and wave the bloody shirt, but being surrounded by people who assume you must agree with them in your heart of hearts when you don’t is a decidedly unpleasant feeling.

I’m a political pariah. My liberal friends, over ten years out of college now, sometimes seem as if they were trapped in amber the first time their Political Science 101 professor warned them of that creeping evil that is known as the conservative. And though they “support the troops”, when they speak of setbacks and casualties, their eyes light up with a feral intensity. They want Uncle Sam’s nose bloodied. They’d actually enjoy defeat. Those of us who support the war are regarded as some sort of annoying rash to be treated with a topical Political Correctness cream. It is all too obvious that many of my fellow Gen-Xers have never had occasion to learn what earlier generations of Americans knew in their bones: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. But that message, taught to me by my parents, wasn’t lost on me — something for which I am eternally grateful, even as my peers regard it as pitiful: what a shame it was he attended U.C. Berkeley and escaped without the proud badge of liberal guilt!

My friends interminably explain where I went wrong. And after scratching that itch, they can’t fathom its return; why I refuse to budge. They wonder if I’m a dangerous infection – while ignoring the diseased insanity of radical Islam.

Conservative defectors I know mostly concur that it’s time to withdraw and let the sects sort themselves out, no matter what the price in blood. They echo the sentiments of House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey: “The only hope for the Iraqis is their own damned government, and there’s slim hope for that.”

Yet there is so much hope.

The war is treated in tragically American fashion; “Hurry up!” we shout, as if operations in Iraq were a frozen dinner that should take less than five minutes to microwave. Yet to withdraw prematurely from Iraq is to lose. America toppled a bloodthirsty dictator – and made him pay for his grievous crimes against humanity. We forged an interim government – shaky, yet it’s there. Surely these are good things. But winning means stabilizing Iraq before we leave and preventing genocide afterward. Is that a day or decade away? Unknowable. What we do know — or should — is that this war is a crucial test of our resolve in the international terrorism arena. This is a war that is necessary, a war that could have a profound positive effect – if we steel ourselves and win it.

There is no quick fix. Consider post-WW II Japan and Germany. How did those countries fare when they lay merciless at the hands of America? We would not even accept their defeat, because we are American, and we are a good people. We – as much as the defeatists hate this phrase – stayed the course. Indeed, we are still in Japan and Germany, and both would be in a shambles had we not labored for years to help them recover.

But the clarity needed to understand that this a just war and a war we must win is being systematically bled from the populace. Detractors rush us, like Orwell’s Winston Smith, into Room 101 in order to re-educate us; to hammer into our skulls that good is evil, evil is good; that war is never necessary. That two plus two equals five. Yet true freedom is the freedom to say:

My name is Kip Lange, and I support the war in Iraq.

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