My Turn: Finding it a privilege to serve

Posted: Thursday, April 03, 2003

I'm concerned about the letters that accuse our leadership of conducting an illegal and immoral military campaign against Iraq. Let's not forget how we arrived where we are today. We are in the implementation stage of our national security strategy. This strategy was in concept and draft form for the past decade, and only since October 2001 has it become the national security posture of the United States.

"Illegal" supposes the Coalition forces are doing something other than sanctioned by an authoritative body. UNSCR 1441 demanded that Iraq immediately disarm or accept the consequences. The complexity here is that the Bush administration led the effort in demanding the removal of Hussein's regime in addition to disarmament. The U.S. national security strategy gives our leadership the initiative to conduct pre-emptive strikes against those entities abroad that threaten our security. That means the terrorist ilk and the nations that share and support their agenda are threats to the American people, and they will be dealt with accordingly. This is a U.S.-led initiative to remove Hussein's regime because (1) he refused to disarm in accordance with a UNSCR and (2) his regime is a threat to our national security.

We simply cannot rely on the diversity of the U.N. to broker the security of our nation. Please consider that the U.N. has Libya heading the Committee on Human Rights, and Iraq presiding over the Global Disarmament Conference. If you argue that foreign entities with expressed agendas of the destruction of the United States do not pose a direct threat, then the message in September 2001 did not register.

"Immoral" supposes that the Coalition forces are doing something that is other than accepted by moral standards. If the principles we Americans live by are not moral standards, then every one of us stands in contempt. Our constitution is grounded in these principles. Although we cannot export our constitutional rights, throughout our history we have come to the aid of other nations and peoples on behalf of these principles, and the only thing we have ever asked for in return is enough land to bury those Americans who did not return. We have the moral imperative to remove Hussein's regime because (1) he is a ruthless dictator cast from the same mold as Stalin and Hitler, (2) his regime is the antithesis of everything we hold essential to human entitlement, and (3) his regime is a direct threat to our American way of life.

The leadership of our nation did not fail in its efforts to reach a diplomatic solution that did not compromise our principles. Diplomacy is not always gentle or cordial. To some "American principles" sounds pompous, but elsewhere in the world, these liberties are the worst sort of enemy to despots who exercise their diplomatic initiative with brute force and mass terror. Edmund Burke's words are appropriate: "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

Many of the recent anti-war letters are thinly veiled pot shots at our leadership. I have a great deal of respect for the sincere advocates of peace; a world at peace is a noble notion that I hope will never be quelled. But to espouse this notion as a platform to attack the resolution and fortitude of our president is nothing short of cowardice.

Those of you in the vocally uninformed camp should take your creative energy and put it to use against an enemy worthy of your stature - one we can all agree on - the rampant dog poop that surfaces in the spring. You with the "gorilla kicked in the shin" triviality - grab the same little orange baggie your Empire came in and do some social justice. The witless crawdad with the LAPD disconnect - grab a baggie and aim your misguided hands at some husky biscuits. Stop the self-deprecating whining.

I have been recalled to active duty and am leaving my family and this community I love because American principles are worth my time, even my life.

It is a privilege to be called upon to serve this great country, and an honor to be counted among those that recognize that to whom much is given, much is to be expected. Liberty is not some nebulous concept, and it is not a freebie. By the grace of God I am an American.

Jamie McDermott of Juneau is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

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