Karen Kwiatkowski (a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force) says that American troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan are changing the way we view those conflicts and the way we view the administration that sent them in the first place.
We still wonâ€™t see this level of honesty in all the major national papers, but we no longer have to rely solely on the independent or international news for the truth. Talk to the reservists and guardsmen and active soldiers and marines who have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan, on leave and between tours. Hear their words across your kitchen table and your local bar, listen to their pillow talk and their advice to their children, nieces and nephews.
The soldiersâ€™ words advise us not to believe the senior spokesmen at the Pentagon because these spokesmen have been lying for a good long time. The soldiersâ€™ words do not echo, and in fact contradict, the foot-stomping and fist-raising rhetoric of the neoconservative voices in the White House and Congress and at the American Enterprise institute. The soldiersâ€™ words warn their younger friends and relatives to stay far away from the deadly and immoral grip of federal service in uniform.
Most of these military men and women have no political agenda â€“ although congressional campaigns by Paul Hackett in Ohio, Patrick Murphy in Pennsylvania, David Ashe in Virginian, and Tim Dunn in North Carolina have been launched on the wings of the truth about Iraq as seen by a soldier who was there. Three of these four campaigners are military lawyers, and only one has featured a truly antiwar message. But all four candidates have emerged as fiscally conservative, morally sound, Republic-cherishing Democrats.
Given the presumed political nature of the military today as traditionally conservative â€“ and yet contradictorily historically very supportive of George W. Bush â€“ perhaps we are seeing an early psychological breakthrough in the treatment of the two faces of the Republican Party.
Veterans like Tim Dunn no doubt know what it is to be proud to be an American, and they may know better than many of us when that pride should give way to action for change. We can be a stronger, safer, and saner country because of recent conflicts, but it that won't happen unless we listen to those who learned from the experience first hand.