Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Anti-war debates

I have just been driving in my car and listening to Rush Limbaugh. The last several times I have listened to Mr. Limbaugh, he has been complaining that the country is not unified about the war in Iraq. A few days ago it was lauding the fact that 9 out of 10 Israelis support the action against Hezbollah/Lebanon. Today he was criticizing William Buckley, who criticized the Iraq war and President Bush. Of course Mr. Limbaugh also blasted Democrats for their anti-war views.
I have to say all of this whining about unity has always bothered me. There is a saying that politics ends at the country’s edge or at the oceans. That is nice and idealistic, but very, very untrue. War is really just politics, and is at least often motivated by political ideology, and thus separating it from political differences is impossible. In fact, with the sole exception of WWII, it has never happened in America. The American Revolution had its share of Tories (British sympathizers). The War of 1812 was not supported by any of the New England States, which were actually in the midst of demanding concessions from the government when the war ended. The Mexican American War was wildly unpopular with Whigs, and Northerners because they (probably rightly) suspected the motivation was to expand slavery. The Civil War was unpopular in the North, and there were still plenty of Unionist left in the South, especially the boarder states. They had their own political party in 1860 including men like Sam Houston and John Bell. Don’t forget that Kentucky refused to help either side, showing the unpopularity of the war. The Spanish American War was also opposed by many as a fabrication of American Imperialism. World War I was also not very popular. In fact, President Woodrow Wilson was re-elected as an anti-war candidate. His campaign slogan was “He kept us out of war.” Korea was not a wildly accepted conflict/war either, and Vietnam needs no discussion. Desert Storm did not last long enough for anyone to really oppose it. Only WWII had bi-partisan support from every section of the country. In fact, only one person voted against declaring war on Japan. It happened to be the first female elected to Congress, Jeannette Rankin. She hid in the coat room after her vote, and she had also voted against WWI.
So with this long history of opposing wars, why do men like Rush Limbaugh get so worked up when Democrats come out with an anti-war platform? America has only one experienced such support for a war, and we are still here and still fine. In fact, such opposition to war is healthy in my opinion. The debate needs to happen, which is exactly what the founding fathers thought as well. That is why the power to declare war is placed in the Senate. The only problem with Iraq is that this debate is taking place now, rather than prior to sending troops. It is taking place now because the Senate passes stupid things like ‘the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution’ and whatever the name for the resolution this time. The Senate has grown cowardly in their duties. The job of the Senate is to debate war, prior to its occurance. The President and the Senate let us down by by-passing it this time. I think we would all be in a better place if we would stop wishing for unity, and started airing our differences in the prescribed manner. Differences are not meant to be ignored, they are meant to be debated. That is the beauty of our American system.