Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
America conservatives are quick to label unpatriotic and even treacherous any of their fellows - liberals, for example - who question U.S.military operations in Afghanistan,Iraq, or indeed anywhere U.S.troops are stationed. To question and protest military policy, to counsel withdrawal from those war zones, to challenge Pentagon budget and acquisition requests are called defeatist and, therefore, unpatriotic, as if patriotism hinges primarily or even solely on the prestige and victory of a country’s army and the measure of it is the citizens’support. I suppose the notion is premised on the idea that military personnel in a professional army have volunteered to risk their lives for the defense of the nation and as such are unquestionably entitled to everyone’s utmost respect and support, right or wrong, as if it was a sacred vocation. Furthermore, it seems to be a common notion that all U.S.wars are good wars, because Americais good.
But I think that if a policy is a bad policy, contrary to a nation’s best interests, contrary to intelligence, predicated on obvious fabrications - as was the case with the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq - and contrary to law, then a patriotic person has an obligation to protest, resist and expose the perfidious policies. Dissent is eminently patriotic.
In the post 9/11 environment of the former Bush administration the scope of legitimate dissent from government policy was limited by the hitherto unprecedented range of restrictions of acceptable speech and opinion. Advocates of the War on Terror, which is continuing despite the Obama presidency, use lingering neoconservative sentiments to maintain their attack on honest, accurate and free thought to successfully thwart the truth. It worries me because American military policy increasingly is monopolizing its foreign policy as it evolves further towards a society that is permanently at war. This degeneration is unavoidable if we are prohibited from disputing policies.