Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Forum on the War

I was on a panel at the Mansfield campus of Ohio State University last night that opened a two-day Forum on the war. I spoke in favor of the war, while a Christopher Phelps, a professor of history there, argued against the war. The conversation--friendly and congenial both with Phelps and the audience--went on for over two hours. There is no reason to recount it all. I had no idea of the kind of arguments Phelps would make and I’m glad I didn’t know before I agreed, or else I wouldn’t have. He used the kitchen sink approach: we are in it for the oil, Halliburton, it’s a conspiracy by neo-conservatives, we are building an American empire, we hate all other peoples, or at least have contempt for them, Arabs hate us and will now hate us more, the war is likely to increase terrorism, because Iraq will be governed by the US military no democracy will be possible, the US is the rogue state, we are culturally arrogant, everything America touches in the world turns into something bad, the money we spend on the war should be spent on social programs, etc. You get the point. Not only is this stuff boring, it is wrong. The heartbreaking thing about it is the tremendous contempt it shows for America and the American character. It is pathetic and beyond reason. The only good news is that you will find this kind of opinion mostly in the academy. Real people don’t think this way. Real people don’t hate their own country, even if they question their policies. It is sad, very sad. It is heartbreaking. I went home, had a beer and watched the news from Iraq for a couple of hours. I saw Iraqis cheer, they welcomed us, and thanked us. It felt good and my heart started to reassemble itself. And then I saw an interview with a Marine corporal; he was in Baghdad. An American boy from Modesto. You know, one of those good looking young men, bright eyed and inclined to smile. He had come all the way up to Baghdad, fighting when necessary. He was asked to characterize the best thing that had happened to him in the war. Without hesitating he said something like this: "It was nice to see the Iraqi people welcome us, they waved to us, they smiled at us, they even kissed us. It made my heart feel good. That’s why we are here." I need to spend more time with men like this, and less time with people who have Ph.D.’s. It would do my aching heart good. Here is the story on the Forum from the

Mansfield News-Journal.

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