The losses are catastrophic. Over fourteen times more Americans dead than we lost on 9/11, and almost fifty times as many as have died in Iraq since Saddam Hussein’s statue fell.
In 2003, 42,643 people died on America’s highways.
I cite this number to put some of the outrageous claims made by the Left into perspective. To listen to their rhetoric, you’d believe that our efforts in Iraq are a bloody disaster with few parallels in history. But the fact is that more Americans are going to die on our roads this Labor Day weekend than we’ve lost in the occupation of Iraq.
This isn’t to make light of our military losses (or those of 9/11). As someone who actually served in our military for more than two decades, I value the life of every American serviceman or servicewoman. But those of us who served or are serving now understand that you cannot reach great achievements without costs.
The truth is that, although every American soldier lost is painful, our casualties have been astonishingly low considering the magnitude of what we have done and continue to do. We liberated twenty-six million human beings from a monstrous dictator; we’re fighting the forces of terror and oppression on their home ground; and we are giving the broken world of the Middle East a chance to become whole again.
No American service member died in vain.
Which brings me to the ugly heart of this issue: Overwhelmingly, those who have been crying for a year-and-a-half to “bring our troops home,” and whose fervor is now renewed by the electoral contest, don’t give a flying latte about our soldiers. Whether we speak of the irresponsible, self-important celebrities suddenly pretending to care about those in uniform, or the “useful idiots” (to use the Marxist-Leninist term) who crowd the streets to condemn a war of liberation because “America must be wrong” and who weep crocodile tears for brave young Americans they privately despise, the truth is that there are no more repugnant creatures on the American political scene than those who pretend to represent the best interests of our troops while secretly celebrating every one of our casualties.
When someone who has never served in uniform, who will never serve in uniform, whose children will never serve in uniform, whose relatives don’t serve in uniform, and who doesn’t even know—or want to know—anyone who actually serves in uniform tells you that they’re speaking on behalf of our troops, you know you’ve met an Olympic-level hypocrite, a vampire sucking the blood of America’s best.
No soldier I know believes that Howard Dean’s intolerant disciples, or the brownshirts from MoveOn.lies, or the “activists” cowering on campus speaks for him or her.
Those who do not scruple to exploit our soldiers as a political tool—against the wishes and convictions of the soldiers themselves—and who previously had no time for the sort of “inferior” human being who was “foolish” enough to join our military, deserve a taste of reality, a first-hand introduction to the cruelty of the world beyond our shores.
They won’t get it, of course. Because our troops are overseas fighting to protect them. And even the terrorists don’t think the liberal-arts faculty lounge is important enough to bomb.
Let one former soldier say it plainly to the repulsive phonies from sea to shining sea, from Cambridge and the Upper West Side to Malibu and Marin:
You don’t speak for those of us who wore or wear our country’s uniform. And you never will. Before you discovered us as a useful tool, we were all bullies or babykillers from an Oliver Stone fantasy to you. And you loved it because it absolved you of all responsibility to serve your country. Now you portray us as helpless victims of American imperialism (although you showed your true colors during the Abu Ghraib affair, when you were delighted to claim that the actions of a handful of renegades exemplified the behavior of our entire military). Well, the truth is that you were right about one thing all along: We’re not your kind, dahhling. We believe some things are worth fighting for—and yes, worth dying for, if necessary. We believe that the United States of America is the greatest force for good in human history. And we’re proud of our service, our comrades and the flag you deface to make a fashion statement. But we’ll defend your right to have your say and live in safety as our fellow citizen. As we have done so many times before, we’ll bleed to keep you free to be a fool.
Oh, one last round of the numbers game: The New York Police Department expects a quarter of a million protesters during the Republican convention. Just how many of them will have served in our military? For that matter, how many of them came out to protest Saddam Hussein’s massacre of the Kurds? Or his slaughter of his fellow Arabs? While in Manhattan, do they plan to protest Europe’s refusal even to recognize the genocide in Darfur Province in Sudan? Why aren’t they protesting the Islamic extremists’ monstrous oppression of women? (The answer, you see, is that women’s emancipation is only for college-educated white women.)
Will they cry out against Robert Mugabe’s destruction of Zimbabwe and his policy of starving black Africans? Why don’t they protest Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons intended for use against Israel? (We all know the answer to that question. Don’t we?) For that matter, will a single one of them protest the inner-city violence that continues to slaughter generations of young black and brown Americans? (At least half as many young African-Americans will be murdered in the Washington, D.C. area alone this year as American lives will be lost in Iraq in the same period).
And why do those on the left refuse to have an honest debate about such issues? We know the answer to that one, too.
The American Left is out of ideas, out of morals and out of simple decency. All they can do is to shout, lie and pretend to care about those American citizens—our troops, inner-city minorities and the average working man and woman—for whom they don’t give a tiny shred of a damn.
The protesters are going to do a lot of shouting in New York. If you hear one honest voice among them, call me.
Ralph Peters is a retired military officer and the author, most recently, of “Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace.”